Pressure, it pushes down on me, pushes down on you. Stress works its mischief by stimulating an array of receptors in the brain. Eventually, chronic stress will cause some of these receptors to become less sensitive. It’s analogous to the way that, say, long-term cannabis use causes the body’s cannabinoid receptors to become less responsive, which creates tolerance to the drug. Can marijuana help stress-induced depression?
Unfortunately, chronic stress does not create tolerance. Instead, it interferes even more with the body’s normal functioning and can make us sick in a number of ways. A 2015 study by the University of Buffalo suggests that cannabis might help offset one of the major stress-induced ailments, depression.
Studies on rats showed that chronic stress suppressed the production of endocannabinoids, naturally occurring chemicals that affect our memory, moods, and motor control and which are similar in structure to the active ingredients in marijuana. It’s this similarity that gives cannabis its many celebrated powers, including a temporary feeling of well being. Researchers found that cannabis could supplement the rats’ missing endocannabinoids, which might offset the effects of stress.
Will this work in humans? Lead researcher Dr. Samir Haj-Dahmane hedges his optimism with a triple barrier of qualifiers: Cannabis “could potentially help” stabilize mood and treat stress-induced depression.
Typical hedging of bets. But there’s no room for cravenness around here. My Ph.D. in intuition sciences says, sure, why not? Score one for team cannabis!