Justice

Here's What Marijuana Does to Your Stress

We already know that despite the fear mongering tactics and dangers espoused by countless politicians, marijuana has indisputable benefits that reach beyond the sensory effects of simply getting stoned. And according to a new study, its benefits now reach even further.

Neuroscientists at the University of Buffalo’s Institute on Addictions concluded that the active compound found in marijuana, known as THC, could activate chemicals in the brain that could help reduce the effects of depression brought on by chronic stress.

“Using compounds derived from cannabis – marijuana – to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression,” Dr. Samir Haj-Dahmane, the study’s lead researcher, said in a press release.

 

Researchers used rats to discover that symptoms of chronic stress caused their brains to stymie production of a naturally-occurring chemical compound called endocannabinoids, which play a role in affecting things like behavior, emotion, and cognition. Other studies have shown links between endocannabinoids and feelings of well-being, a healthy appetite, and reductions in feelings of pain and anxiety. It’s no wonder, then, that chronic stress has been shown to be a major factor in persons developing depression.

But the study shows that the THC in marijuana, which affects the same receptors in the brain that naturally-occurring endocannabinoids do, has the potential to restore levels of those natural compounds, thereby, potentially, reducing symptoms of depression.

In any case, augmented options for patients who risk forming habits around dangerously addictive, powerful anti-depressants is seen by many as a good thing.

 

For decades, research and empirical evidence has suggested that marijuana can be used to combat chronic pain, and fight off the toxic effects of physically draining treatments like chemotherapy. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, long a scourge for millions of veterans, has also been found to have diminished in patients using marijuana as a treatment. 

Back in July, 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, voiced her cautious optimism towards marijuana, as well as her faith in evidence-based reforms. “I’m a big believer in acquiring evidence, and I think we should see what kind of results we get, both from medical marijuana and from recreational marijuana, before we make any far-reaching conclusions. […] We need more studies. We need more evidence,” she said.

Maybe this new data will tip the scale.