An increasing number of diseases, conditions and mental states are investigating the role of the endocannabinoid system. over there addictedAnd Alzheimer’s diseaseAnd wadingAnd endocrine disorderAnd Gastrointestinal dysbacteriosisAnd headacheAnd ignite …and that’s not even half of the alphabet. As two new studies highlighted below suggest, depression, loneliness, and sadness — mental health conditions that have come to prominence in public discourse lately — should be on the list, too.
On the face of the broad spectrum of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) Involvement in human health is not surprising, given that What we already know On the distribution and function of cannabinoid receptors CB1 And CB2the endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG (our “endogenous hemp”), and all the other receptors, signaling molecules, and biological systems that interact with them.
But generating evidence for these effects through the scientific process is another matter. Then there is the task of translating this data into practical information and potential therapeutic interventions. This is the ultimate goal of most modern cannabis science published daily in the scientific literature, but there is still a long way to go before cannabis is tested, proven, and approved for the vast majority of these indications.
The two papers discussed below illustrate this situation well. While they represent some progress toward — or at least support an idea — cannabis-based therapies for mental health, they are still many steps removed from formal clinical practice.
Although depression is a complex and diverse disorder with many potential causes, “all currently hypothesized etiologies of major depressive disorder, whether genetic, neuroendocrine, immunological, or cellular, appear to depend on the correct functioning of endocannabinoid signaling.” A team of Spanish researchers in a research paper published in December 2021 in the journal Frontiers in pharmacology.1
As if this alone was not enough to warrant a thorough review of this relationship, they also provide in their lead an additional news hook: Corona virus disease-19. Depression and anxiety were major drivers of increased cannabis consumption during the early months of the pandemic, as a project Convention on Biological Diversity Recently mentioned.
But what the authors also point out is that researchers have been proposing a possible role for the endocannabinoid system in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder since the early 2000s.2And3
Beyond the fact that the correct balance of ECS “Necessary for maintaining homeostasis for a number of physiological, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional processes” and “when disorganized.” ECS happens, cognitive defects may arise,” the authors point to more specific findings about the actual molecular mechanisms involved. In particular they highlight:
- Role CB1 The receptor, which is believed to play a key role in the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal gland (HPA) the axis, a system connecting the brain and the adrenal glands (located just above the kidneys) that mediates the stress response;
- the role of both CB1 And CB2 in modulating neuroinflammation, also implicated in depression;
- and the relationship between cannabinoids and neurogenesis.
Finally, they identify additional avenues to explore and other future research directions and needs. to their previous view about Corona virus diseaseThis includes creating solid evidence about whether cannabis use actually helps treat depression.
loneliness and sadness
Researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine took the link between ECS And depression is taken one step further by measuring the levels of the circulating endocannabinoid in the blood of bereaved elderly people suffering from loneliness and grief.
As explained in a research paper published in December 2021 in the journal Frontiers in PsychiatryAnd4 The study population included 44 individuals who had experienced the loss of a loved one in recent months, as well as 20 “healthy controls” of similar age. All participants also completed the unit’s baseline clinical assessments.
Then, two, four, and six months after the blood was drawn, 44 bereaved participants completed an additional follow-up clinical assessment for anxiety, depression, dementia, sadness, and suicidal ideation.
By tabulating purely observational (meaning no interference) data, the researchers uncovered two primary endocannabinoid ligands. First, in a cross-sectional analysis comparing baseline data across all participants, circulating anandamide concentrations were higher in the elderly with severe loneliness than in healthy controls.
And second, in the longitudinal analysis, six months of follow-up counted between lonely and grieving individuals, those with concentrations higher than 2.AG In their blood at baseline, they then experienced faster resolution of their grief symptoms during the six-month study window.
“effective ECS The system responds to stress, which in turn leads to less physical and emotional stress.” “Our cross-sectional findings lead to the assumption that increased circulating endocannabinoids in lonely individuals reflects an efficient and normal “stress response” functioning.” ECS the system.”
They continue: “Our new longitudinal results indicate that the stimulant ECS The system in response to bereavement may be critical for better coping with attachment loss and for facilitating the transition to integrated grief in bereaved older adults who report severe loneliness.”
The researchers concluded that, in isolated and bereaved elderly, the increase in circulating endocannabinoids is a reflection of proper functioning. ECS system, with a better adaptation to bereavement. However, as in the paper on depression, they don’t go so far as to suggest anything ECS– Combination therapy or therapy, including cannabis itself. In fact, despite the growing elderly relaxing Cannabis therapy, the word does not appear once on paper