Something still not entirely understood is why cannabis affects people differently. A study looking at THC interactions in the brain show that rewarding and adverse effects are produced by anatomically different areas. Individual experiences likely differ due to genetic variation.
A report published by the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2001 demonstrates the progress the medical community has made but also what gaps still need to be filled in when utilizing cannabis. This report found that excess consumption of cannabis leads to feelings of panic and anxiety and that 15% of those willing to respond to a survey experienced acute psychotic symptoms. It was also found that cannabis dependence can occur, as well as withdrawal, which can last for close to a week. This article was a review that synthesized relevant studies but also claimed that the casual conclusions of these papers were difficult to find or replicate.
This paper is interesting given its age considering it put out what was current data but then ended by stating the casual conclusions of each paper may not stand. 18 years later, some of the data has stood, and some have not. Users can gain a tolerance to cannabis but many are looking to mitigate it. The author uses the word dependence when discussing cannabis which is a word that holds weight and is up for debate. Intoxicating cannabinoids, like THC, affect the reward center, but non-altering cannabinoids, such as CBD, tend to work more noticeably outside of the brain, although all have mixed effects in both regions. Cannabinoids are not all the same, apply quite differently to various ailments, and have divergent effects. Blanketing an entire crop with a misinformed warning label seems irresponsible and unduly harsh. Users or those looking into cannabis-based medicine are encouraged to do their research.
Cannabis and Psychosis: Are We any Closer to Understanding the Relationship?
Despite the constant technological gains in medicine, there is still insufficient information and knowledge about who is at risk of developing cannabis psychosis prior to an individual’s exposure to cannabis. Controlled research is limited due to the legal status of cannabis but the growing number of states legalizing medicinal and recreational use of cannabis will likely provide a naturalistic experiment that will produce a prevention strategy for the condition. Current schizophrenia research is limited to western male populations and an overemphasis on the biological model; future research should extend to a more diverse population and sociocultural factors that may lead to schizophrenia.
A recently published article serves as a call for research to be conducted to discover how cannabis could impact the management of bipolar disorder (BD). Presented in the article is a full review of the advantages and disadvantages of cannabis-based medicine in the treatment of BD and provides insight into possible mechanisms might affect the pathophysiology of the disorder. The insights listed within the article provide the rationale for examining the endocannabinoid system, specifically the cannabinoid receptor 2, with the hopes of finding therapeutic targets for mood control associated with BD.
A 2019 literature review summarizes the finding on using THC and CBD on patients with dementia. Researchers found that Dronabinol and THC were associated with significant improvements in a range of psychiatric scores. Interestingly, cannabis products showed the most promising results in patients whose symptoms were previously unmanageable or resistant to other treatments.
A Budding Source of Targets for Treating Inflammatory and Neuropathic Pain ECS
The cannabinoid system provides momentum to develop cannabinoid-based medications to treat inflammatory and neuropathic pain as researchers continue to find promising therapeutic targets. These new targets may lead to the formation of novel pain-relief medications that may serve well to alleviate pain for those suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia. Cannabis-based pain medicine is also being researched for opioid-sparing effects and effectiveness in reducing the necessary dose of opioids.
In a crossover trial of 39 patients with Alzheimer’s disease, treatment with nabilone (a synthetic THC analog) was associated with significant improvement in agitation and, remarkably, cognition. Further studies should examine the effects of both THC and CBD in patients with Alzheimer’s disease because anxiety is common in dementia and may exacerbate agitation.
CNR1 and FAAH variation and affective states induced by marijuana smoking
A recent study has revealed that variations within cannabinoid receptor 1 (CBR1) and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) influences cannabis’ acute effects on affect. Variations of CBR1 and FAAH are known to be associated with cannabis dependence. The current study now adds that the variations in genes also affect an individual’s behavior when ingesting cannabis. The results of this study provide useful information for understanding an individual’s motivation for marijuana use, as well as risks and associated behaviors.
Chronic Stress Is Associated with Pain Precipitation and Elevation in DeltaFosb Expression
Researchers have identified Delta-FosB, an osteosarcoma viral oncogene, as a useful molecular marker of sustained pain. The expression of Delta-FosB is significantly elevated by stress-induced pain, exposing its role in the adaptability of nerves. This study supports theories that Delta-FosB plays an important role in drug addiction, depression, and stress adaptation. The interaction between stress, depression, and pain is something that is not yet well-understood. But, as we learn more about cannabis-based medicine, many of the age-old questions about pain have become much clearer.
The locus coeruleus is a spot in the human brainstem that is integral to our responses to stress, panic, wakefulness, and sleep-wake transitions. Both the cannabinoid receptors and opioid receptors in the locus coeruleus have a synergistic relationship that, once the medical system begins to incorporate more education about cannabinoids, just might change how physicians prescribe pain medication. The interactions of the two receptor types provide a mechanism that could easily and conveniently improve pain control, provide treatments for addiction, and will likely aid those experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. Research focusing on the treatment of opioid addiction with cannabis is ongoing… but hindered by the legal status of cannabis.