Marijuana Is Effective In Treating Depression -- Latest Study

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A marijuana plant
IN PHOTO: A woman holds up a cannabis plant during a demonstration in support of the legalization of marijuana in Buenos Aires, December 4, 2014. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

A new study found that components present in marijuana are beneficial in combating stress and reducing depression. The press release of the University of Buffalo disclosed that the research was conducted by the school's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA). The team specifically studied the brain chemicals, called endocannabinoids, which are very similar to the substances found in marijuana.

Endocannabinoids reduce stress and anxiety by controlling a person's emotions and cognition. However, stress is seen to thwart the effects of the chemical. The researchers found that a reduction in this chemical causes depression rooted from chronic stress.

RIA Senior Research Scientist Samir Haj-Dahmane, PhD states that endocannabinoids control behavior and affect motor control. It was also seen that a similar component is found in marijuana as well and it is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). If this is administered to someone suffering from chronic stress it could lead to a reduction in stress and depression. Huffington Post reported that to determine this they conducted an experiment on rats and found that when they were administered with THC it substituted the endocannabinoids and alleviated symptoms of depression.

Haj-Dahmane, however, states that though a lot of people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder have credited marijuana as a source of relief, the research is still in its initial stages. He states that more work has to be done to come to a concrete conclusion. "Our research thus far has used animal models; there is still a long way to go before we know whether this can be effective in humans," he said. He also stated that the next course of action would be to check if the extract, cannabidiol can restore normal behavior in animals without getting them addicted.

Contrary to the study, Huffington Post reports there being other studies that claim, heavy marijuana smokers are at a higher risk of depression. There is no exact proof or substantial evidence to conclude that it causes depression. Medical marijuana has several health benefits, nonetheless and is legalized as a source of treatment in several states due to its medicinal properties.

The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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