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Cannabis use and social behavior

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After the horrific school shooting in Ovaldi, Texas, last week, Fox News presenter Laura Ingraham blamed the perpetrator’s “psychotic behavior” on his alleged use of marijuana. She then claimed, without evidence, that legalizing cannabis had “disastrous consequences” for an “entire generation of Americans.”

For all the wrong reasons, Ingraham is right about one thing: cannabis Can It has a profound effect on social behavior. Depending on dosage, stress, and other factors, this may lead to a range of feelings and behaviors: withdrawn meditation, peaceful calm, fun, joy, and sometimes anxiety or agitation.

However, these effects are largely mediated by cannabinoid receptors, in particular CB1the main target of psychotropic substances THC. If CB1 implicated, and it follows that the broader endocannabinoid system – including the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide and 2-AGwhich is also related to CB1and the enzymes that create and degrade them – should play an important role in modulating human social behaviour.

But Ingraham’s screaming was more of a scapegoat than common science. In fact, a newly published study reports that recent cannabis use is associated with social and “humane” behaviors, increased empathy and harmony, and greater fairness and harmlessness. Below, read more about it and two other studies that explore the link between cannabis, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and social behaviour.

Cannabis consumption enhances empathy

Noting that the current scientific literature on cannabis use generally focuses on health risks or treatment of disease, researchers at the University of New Mexico set out to investigate something different: the associations with prosocial behavior among healthy people.

Their study, the results of which were published in May 2022 in the journal Scientific ReportsAnd the1 It consists of two main parts: 1) Test THC In Paul 146 healthy college students aged 18-25 years; and 2) participants administered a series of seven questionnaires.

Almost half of the participants tested positive THC. For the analysis, these individuals were classified as ‘users’ and the others as ‘non-users’. By correlating these two categories with responses to questionnaires, the researchers found that cannabis users scored higher on “prosocial behaviours,” “moral fairness,” “moral harm,” and “empathy quotient,” but lower on “group loyalty.” Among females, cannabis users scored higher than nonusers on “aggression.” But among males, users scored higher than nonusers on ‘compatibility’.

Despite the apparent ability of cannabis to influence mood and behavior during acute intoxication, it is important to note that these findings are not causal, nor do they imply that cannabis use itself is the source of these differences. It is also possible that people with these traits are more likely to use cannabis, or that a different variable or combination of variables contributes to both cannabis use and prosocial behavior.

However, one end result seems to suggest that cannabis itself may be a major factor behind some of these more favorable traits. Among users of both sexes, researchers noted linear associations between recent cannabis use and “prosocial behaviours,” “empathy quotient,” “moral harm,” “moral fairness,” and “compatibility.”

The authors concluded, “The findings suggest that cannabis use is associated with an increased sense of social participation and a prioritization of human behaviors that decline over time after cannabis use.”

Modifying social behavior in animals

The second recent paper becomes more automated while reviewing the evidence from animal studies. Writing in the magazine Neurology & behavioral reviewsAnd the2 University of Toronto researchers describe the analysis and synthesis of 80 previous studies — one of which used capuchin monkeys, and rats, mice, hamsters or gerbils — to draw some key conclusions.

First of all, they assert that in these animals, the endocannabinoid “tone”, a broad scale ECS Its function does indeed play a role in various social behaviors and interactions, particularly play – an effect that can be modulated by gender and age. Beyond that, the results of the review are a bit vague. This is not surprising given the complexity of both ECS Job and social behaviour.

But in summary, the authors wrote, “studies consistently found that a direct cannabinoid receptor agonist”—achieved by experimental administration of a group of potent synthetic cannabinoids—“reduced social behaviors in animals, while indirect [receptor] Activation by enzyme inhibition or gene knockdown increases social behaviors.”

As for extensions of human social behavior, and more specifically, treatment of psychiatric disorders, the authors encourage caution. They wrote that “translation to clinical research is not straightforward or straightforward,” and the results may be very useful in guiding the design of future studies in humans.

The results of the review suggest that indirect regulation of cannabinoid receptor activity “may be interesting to translate into clinical evaluation and research.” Several preclinical studies have investigated the pharmacological inhibition of endocannabinoid-degrading enzymes. FAAH And the Majelbut this approach to ECS The change has so far seen limited success in a clinical context.

As the authors also note, “Some research has suggested that cannabis may provide some symptomatic relief for conditions involving social behavior disorder.” Substantial anecdotal evidence and a small but growing set of clinical findings highlight the potential of cannabis derivatives Convention on Biological Diversity As a treatment for anxiety and other mood disorders. Convention on Biological Diversity It is not a direct agonist of the cannabinoid receptor but it ‘activates’ indirectly by delaying endocannabinoid uptake.

ECS in social anxiety

Review article published in the January 2022 issue of Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry3 turn check ECS in social anxiety disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, social anxiety disorder is distinguished from everyday stress or shyness by “an intense and persistent fear of being watched and judged by others.” The risks may be hereditary, and treatment generally consists of psychotherapy, group support and/or medications including benzodiazepines or “benzos” and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.

But as the authors of the latest review argue, there may also be a role for medications, including FAAHInhibitors that target the endocannabinoid system due to their involvement in the regulation of stress, anxiety and social behavior and their interaction with neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine and oxytocin. A 2020 double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled Evidence of Concept study of 149 patients with social anxiety disorder found that FAAHThe inhibitory compound was well tolerated and, in some, significantly reduced anxiety.4

The research is still in its very early stages, but “in general, the ECS presents as a potential biological pathway in the pathophysiology of social anxiety disorder and as a promising avenue for developing new therapeutic approaches.”

Nate Seltenrich, a freelance science journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area, covers a wide range of topics including environmental health, neuroscience, and pharmacology.

Copyright, Project Convention on Biological Diversity. It may not be reprinted without permission.


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