Marijuana for the Melancholy: Pot Can Relieve Anxiety and Depression

Drop the Prozac and the Xanax — marijuana could be all that is needed to treat individuals suffering from anxiety and depression. Longtime lovers of the leaf have known for many years that smoking weed is one of the best ways of making a miserable existence more tolerable, but new research suggests that the compounds responsible for the smell of marijuana may be an effective remedy for people under the thumb of debilitating social disorders.

The study published in the latest journal Physiology & Behavior finds that beta-caryophyllene (BCP), a terpene found in the essential oils of cannabis that contributes to the plants unique aroma, acts as a cannabinoid by infiltrating the CB2 receptor in the brain, which provides health benefits without producing stoned results.

Researchers from the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain believe their latest study clearly shows that beta-caryophyllene, which is also found in common grocery store spices like rosemary and black pepper, can be used to fight against anxiety and depression. 

“The present study has clearly demonstrated the anxiolytic and anti-depressant effect of β-caryophyllene and its underlying mechanism in a CB2 receptor-dependent manner in rodents,” wrote the study authors. “The results also support the involvement of the CB2 receptor in the regulation of emotional behavior and suggest that this receptor could be a relevant therapeutic target for the treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders.”

Previous studies are consistent with this team’s latest discovery. In 2008, German scientists discovered that beta-caryophyllene was a cannabinoid that binds to the CB2 receptor. This discovery was important because it provided answers to the scientific struggle for the development of a synthetic cannabinoid that could be used to treat a variety of ailments without producing high effects. How convenient that beta-caryophyllene is a common denominator in most food…and marijuana.

Researchers believe it is because of beta-caryophyllene that marijuana users often claim relief from anxiety and depression as their reason for consuming the herb. In fact, the 2013 Trends in Pharmacological Sciences reports indicates that “epidemiological studies have indicated that the most common self-reported reason for using cannabis is rooted in its ability to reduce feelings of stress, tension and anxiety.”

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