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Researchers Just Discovered How & Why Medical Cannabis Stops Anxiety Attacks

Researchers Just Discovered How & Why Medical Cannabis Stops Anxiety Attacks

When people become anxious or stressed, they usually look for a solution that makes them feel better. For many, that solution is cannabis. In fact, one of the main reasons people use cannabis is to relieve anxiety.1 A new study sheds light on the biological explanation for how anxiety is produced. In addition, “Researchers just found a natural brain chemical that can reduce anxiety by acting on the brain’s endocannabinoid receptors, which may provide some answers as to how pot helps to reduce anxiety.”2 Read on to learn more about this monumental study.

Medical Marijuana (MMJ) is used to treat a number of qualifying conditions. You can find out if you pre-qualify for a recommendation in just two steps! First, Take our eligibility survey. Once qualified for an in-person exam,  you’ll receive scheduling instructions to see one of our Ohio Medical Marijuana Doctors. Completing the survey takes only 5 minutes. Find out if you pre-qualify for an Ohio medical marijuana recommendation today!

The Anxiety “Super-Highway”

People have known about the stress relieving benefit of cannabis for centuries, but until recently, scientists had not been able to explain the biological reasoning behind it. A January 2020 publication from the journal Neuron contains a detailed study3 about how cannabis can help the brain to fight off anxiety attacks. The information contained therein enhances a past study in which scientists believe the brain is equipped with an “anxiety super-highway” responsible for anxiety attacks and disorders. They believe the “super-highway” is the connection between the amygdala, which processes emotions, and the prefrontal cortex, which controls social behavior, impulse control, and decision making. Stressors activate neurochemicals along this highway which increase anxiety. Study co-author and Vanderbilt University researcher, Sachin Patel, reported that the circuit between these two areas of the brain is stronger in people with certain types of anxiety disorders. In addition, he said, “As people or animals are exposed to stress and get more anxious, these two brain areas glue together, and their activity grows stronger together.”2

Pinpointing the Anxiety Molecule

Fortunately, the brain produces a molecule, 2-AG, that can break this connection through interruption of the neurochemicals along the “super-highway.” As a result, anxiety levels drop. “2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) is an endogenous ligand of the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), members of a family of GPCRs [G-protein-coupled receptors] best known for mediating effects of the active components of marijuana.”4 The study found 2-AG activates the same brain-related endocannabinoid receptors as when someone uses marijuana. To prove this theory, Patel and his team began their study by placing mice in a stress-induced environment for 24 hours. In the next step, they put the mice into a maze while measuring brain function and anxiety levels. The results showed that while 2-AG normally regulates anxiety, the mice experienced heightened levels of anxiety because the 2-AG had broken down.

A New Treatment for Anxiety?

Patel is hopeful that this research will lead to the creation of a new drug that can imitate 2-AG so endocannabinoid receptors in the body can halt the escalation of anxiety. He said, “If proven effective, this type of medication would be taken to cause a continuous elevation in 2-AG levels in the brain . . . We still do not know how enhancing 2-AG levels will affect humans with stress-related disorders such as PTSD, and whether 2-AG signaling is compromised in patients with PTSD or other anxiety disorders.” Still, he hopes the research leads to a drug that “would allow one to experience some of the beneficial effects people use medical cannabis for, in terms of anxiety and stress-relief, without some of the side effects.”2

While Patel is not inclined to support the use of medical cannabis as the main solution to the findings of his study, the research indirectly explains how cannabis naturally reduces anxiety. Producers of cannabis-based products can potentially use this research to develop medicines which can treat anxiety. More importantly, it could help provide natural alternatives to prescription medicines often accompanied by harmful side effects.2

Is Medical Marijuana Right for Me?

Our caring staff of Ohio Medical Marijuana Doctors is ready to evaluate your condition. If you feel you have a condition that is treatable with medical marijuana, the first step is to take our eligibility survey. In just 5 minutes, you could pre-qualify for a Ohio medical marijuana recommendation. An Ohio Medical Marijuana Doctor will then determine if you qualify during an in-person exam. For more information, visit https://docmj.com/states/ohio-medical-marijuana-card/.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2723942/?report=classic
  2. https://merryjane.com/news/researchers-just-discovered-how-weed-can-stop-an-anxiety-attack-in-its-tracks
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0896627319310906
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/2-arachidonoylglycerol