cannabis

Research tackles some long held beliefs about cannabis' effects

Saturday, August 31, 2013 by: Raw Michelle
Tags: cannabis, medical research, medicinal marijuana

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(NaturalNews) Despite the incredible advances in modern scientific understanding, the medical community's knowledge of cannabis persists being largely limited to anecdotal evidence. Even many of the characteristic effects of the drug's use that seem firmly established and undisputed may only been surface impressions that need to be tested.

The science behind the munchies

Under even rudimentary examination, it becomes clear that not all of these claims have unilateral support.

The human body produces its own chemicals for stimulating cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These 'endocannabinoids' are involved, much in the same way as plant-derived cannabinoids, in mood elevation, anxiety relief, reduction of the effects of stress on the body, and appetite regulation.

While it may seem obvious that one of the plant's effects is to "increase appetite," this perception isn't necessarily correct. The impression that it increases appetite comes from the increase in sensory pleasure from taste, which can manifest in an increase in food-seeking behaviors. The belief is reinforced by marijuana's use in conjunction with chemotherapy. Explanations are often simplified as "improving appetite," but what the cannabinoids actually do is reduce nausea to access the body's normal demand for food. In China, by contrast, cannabis has been used as an appetite suppressant for hundreds of years. The effect would occur after, rather than during its use. When the brain's levels of anandamide, an endocannabinoid, are supplemented by cannabis use, the body adjusts its own output to normalize levels.

Anandamide is one of the chemicals responsible for the increase in sensory pleasure associated with cannabis consumption. When the cannabis is removed, the body loses some of its inclination to seek pleasure from food, effectively making it a natural weight loss aide.

Chemistry of a bad trip

Dr. Celia Morgan of the University College London is conducting an unique study by examining some of the effects claimed by users, but in interesting test settings - in their own homes, and with their own cannabis supply.

In the majority of cannabis studies, an identical cannabinoid sample is used by multiple users. These studies limit their external validity by only studying tightly controlled and naturally unavailable forms of cannabinoids. Dr. Morgan is leading a study that focuses the specific relationship between a single user, the chemical makeup of their own cannabis supply, and how changes in the levels of different cannabinoids affects the experience. The researchers hope that this will allow them insight into a macrocosm of the effects of cannabis chemicals on users in real world situations.

The second strongest active chemical in cannabis, after THC is the cannabidiol, which are found in resin pockets, nestled amongst the THC deposits. Cannabidiol brings with it a more mellow high, but also some other interesting effects. Self-reported anxiety levels, tended to be higher in users whose cannabis also contained lower-than average amounts of the cannabidiols. While only a loose correlation at this point, this indicator has some researchers suspecting that lower levels of mediating cannabidiol may be the trigger of reported marijuana-induced feelings of paranoia or dissociation, which are caused by the THC.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3282525/?tool=pmcentrez
http://www.bap.org.uk
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2906701/?tool=pmcentrezs

About the author:
Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general.

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