Natural “high” Could Avoid Chronic Marijuana Use

 avoid chronic marijuana use

Researchers find that having a normal levels of the body’s own cannabinoid could avoid chronic marijuana use as well as relieve mood and anxiety disorders.

Why do some people get addicted from smoking pot? What is the deal with anxiety and mood disorders that’s a debilitating issue for some people? A new study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center suggests that the thing these two issues have in common is the levels of endocannabinoids in your body.

The Body’s own Cannabinoids Could Avoid Chronic Marijuana Use

The findings were published in the Nov. 26th issue of the journal Cell Reports.

Cannabis contains many compounds that act on a family of receptors in the body called the cannabinoid receptors. These receptors obviously don’t exist only for us to get a “high” from a drug, they are also activated by substances produced by our own body called endocannabinoids.

The most abundant of these substances are called 2-AG. To test how these “drugs” affect behavior, researchers engineered a mouse with impaired ability to produce 2-AG in the brain. These mice showed anxiety-like behavior, female mice also showed signs of depression.

To see if this behavior could be changed researchers blocked the actions of the enzyme that breaks down 2-AG. Stopping the breakdown made the levels the natural cannabinoid climb back to normal. This change also re-normalized the behavior of the mice, removing signs of anxiety or depression.

The implication is that people who have similar symptoms of anxiety and depression might also have low levels of this cannabinoid. Though the researchers caution that this approach of raising levels of 2-AG haven’t been tested in humans.

The most common reason for chronic marijuana use is to relieve tension and anxiety, this might be due to low natural levels of their own body’s cannabinoids. Using marijuana regularly also reduces the number of cannabinoid receptors in the brain meaning chronic use of the drug can lead to a vicious cycle of addiction.

If natural cannabinoids could help avoid chronic marijuana use and treat mood disorders, many people addicted to the drug could be helped. The first step is to confirm that this system also translates to human brains and that low levels of the body’s own “drug” are found in some people.

Image credit: Flores y Plantas via flickr.com, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0