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Cannabis and Depression: How the weed can help

Medical research has suggested cannabis may improve mood, which is why the plant is even nicknamed the “green Prozac.” Users say that marijuana can help lift their spirits but does science agree it can be effective in treating depression?

It is interesting that the use of cannabis for feeling positive goes back hundreds of years. Today, many people still believe this is true. An assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, Zachary Walsh, confirmed that there are a number of people who use cannabis to treat their depression.

Walsh leads a research focused on the positive and negative effects of marijuana on mental health. According to him, the reason why there is still no definite answer as to whether or not cannabis can really help is that there are different types of depression. Although the mental disorder is generally defined as the feeling of hopelessness or sadness for an extended period of time, it is more complicated.

What Does Science Say?

There are many forms of depression and it is linked to several physiological changes, including nutrient deficiency, autoimmune diseases, and chronic infection. Often, chronic stress and depression go hand in hand.

In 2015, researchers from the University of Buffalo discovered there are some components of the herb that can help depression due to chronic stress. The findings showed that molecules similar to cannabis, known as endocannabinoids, decreased when exposed in a stressful situation regularly. It then led to a behavior that simulated depression. The study was performed on rodents.

Endocannabinoids are somewhat like our body’s very own THC, which is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. Our endocannabinoids have different functions, including helping balance our mood. They also have an impact on our attitude toward seeking rewards.

Aside from that, they also regulate appetite, sleep, and some parts of our immunity. In a way, endocannabinoids assist in maintaining balance in our body.

The lead researcher, Dr. Samir Haj-Dahmane, explained that it is possible to restore our moods when we increase our endocannabinoid system. Since the compounds from cannabis are similar, it is possible to restore the function of endocannabinoids and at the same time, soothe our mood and alleviate depression.

Cannabis and Inflammation

One of the many benefits of medical marijuana is its ability to reduce inflammation. Over the past decade, there have been studies that revealed how a depressed person had increased inflammation in the brain. Proteins known as cytokines that cause inflammation are in high amounts in the brains of people with depression.

Genetics, environmental factors, and once again, stress all contribute to inflammation manifesting as depression. As cannabis is a strong anti-inflammatory herb, it may be helpful for people with increased brain swelling. In fact, a 2014 study by Tel Aviv University researchers found that a few doses of THC can help reduce brain inflammation.

Apart from the potential of cannabis in fighting neuroinflammation, it also has antioxidants that aid in repairing cells and protecting our DNA from almost any kind of damage. The plant can speed up recovery in the case of brain injuries, resulting in the development of new cells in the brain.



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