Cannabis And Serotonin: Can This Relationship Treat Anxiety?
As cannabis consumers, we’ve all experienced how it can improve our mood and help us relax. But nowadays, we’re starting to see how these qualities may truly help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety – and it seems serotonin plays a major role.
WHAT IS SEROTONIN?
The human body uses neurotransmitters to perform various functions. These “chemical messengers” communicate throughout the central nervous system. Serotonin is one such neurotransmitter made in the brain and intestines. It works to regulate mood, nausea, appetite, bone health, sleep, emotions, and even sexual function. The vast majority can be found in the gastrointestinal tract.
Serotonin is produced through a conversion process from essential amino acid tryptophan and tryptophan hydroxylase. Tryptophan can be found in common foodstuffs like cheese, red meat, and nuts. A lack of this amino acid in our diet will result in a serotonin level reduction. This, in turn, is linked to anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. It’s because of factors like this that our diet is so closely linked to our mood and emotions.
HOW DOES CANNABIS INTERACT WITH SEROTONIN?
The relationship between cannabis and serotonin is very interesting. Not only are cannabinoid receptors found  on serotonin neurons, they’re also apparent in the corresponding inhibitory receptors.
This leads to the conclusion that cannabinoids may increase serotonin levels in certain conditions, and reduce them in others. A migraine, for example, is a condition that correlates with increased serotonin levels in the brain. In this situation, the activation of inhibitory receptors would be the best solution to the problem. When one consumes THC in high doses, it triggers the inhibition of serotonin receptors. Just a few puffs of a jay will actually worsen your migraine. Once one recognises the importance of serotonin in mood disorders and the impact of cannabis on serotonin production, it’s easy to see how cannabis can really help patients suffering from certain mental illnesses.
HOW CANNABIS CAN HELP
In 2016, a study  was performed where mice were administered a chemical that mimics CBD. This led to the antidepressant effects one might expect from this calming cannabinoid. The interesting part was that when the researchers blocked the serotonin receptors, the effects were no longer noticeable. This further suggests that cannabinoids and the serotonergic system are in fact linked.
5 years before this, a paper  was published that showed how increasing endocannabinoid levels in the body made antidepressants more effective. The study also found that blocking CB1 receptors would completely stop the antidepressants from working.
This demonstrates how the endocannabinoid and the serotonergic systems work together in helping us achieve homeostasis. It also shows that if there is going to be a medicine developed, these two systems will have to be stimulated in a way that is balanced and supportive to the other. So is cannabis the future of antidepressants?
MARIJUANA FOR ANXIETY
When comparing anxiety levels of 50 individuals who smoked cannabis regularly and 50 who didn’t smoke at all, a study  showed some interesting results. The patients who smoked marijuana experienced much lower levels of anxiety than those who didn’t. A 2012 paper  sought to assess multiple studies that looked into CBD as an anti-anxiety medication. Even though dosage and consumption mechanism are still factors that require more research, they concluded that CBD is an effective treatment for this psychological condition.
Before you embark on a healing journey with cannabis, it’s important you know what you’re doing. Not every strain will have the same effect on different people. It’s essential to keep track of how you feel in a “weed journal” of sorts. This will help you know which are your favourite strains as well as your ideal dosage and intake frequency. Another factor you need to pay attention to is THC. It isn’t always the best medicine to combat anxiety; CBD is what you really want. Look for strains that have a balanced THC:CBD profile or are CBD-dominant. Euphoria, Painkiller XL, and Stress Killer are three fantastic CBD strains from RQS to consider trying. The first two mentioned only have 9% THC, and Stress Killer has a manageable content of 11% THC.
As long as you stay informed and keep track of how you feel, you may very well feel a reduction in anxiety over time. Like many other scientific queries related to cannabis, so much more research is needed to confidently provide advice on the exact way to use cannabis as a treatment for various psychological disorders. What is encouraging, however, is that cannabis is a non-toxic substance that also seems to clearly interact with serotonin. In the future, we’re bound to see this relationship fleshed out further.
Find out how the relationship between cannabis and serotonin may help fight various psychological disorders like anxiety and depression.