Brain Research Shows Import of Endocannabinoids

Brain Research Shows Import of Endocannabinoids

Research has yielded what a recently published article calls “remarkable progress in understanding the biological actions of marijuana and cannabinoids.” The author notes that new understanding of the actions of the body’s endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS), particularly in the brain, “will allow specific therapeutic targeting of the different components of the ECS in health and disease.” Of particular note are the “surprising new fundamental roles” that the ECS plays in “inhibition of neurotransmitter release,” an effect implicated in the myriad of therapeutic effects demonstrated for cannabis and cannabinoids. [Int Rev Neurobiol. 2009;88:335-69.]

New brain research indicates potential for new anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs that target the ECS. Italian scientists found that preventing the deactivation of one of the body’s natural cannabinoids produced “marked anxiolytic-like and antidepressant-like effects in rats and mice” without the full behavioral effects of THC or cannabis. The researchers conclude that their finding “supports the hypothesis that the [endocannabinoid] system plays an important role in anxiety and mood disorders.” [Int Rev Neurobiol. 2009;85:57-72.]

The neuroprotective qualities of cannabinoids – their ability to protect brain cells from toxic over-excitation – are well established, but recent research has shown that cannabinoids have a unique capacity to generate new neurons in older brains. An upcoming article in the journal of Molecular Psychiatry reports that researchers have shown that treating aged rats with a cannabinoid produced new neurons in the hippocampus, a major part of the brain that plays important roles in long-term memory and spatial navigation. The findings have important implications for the treatment of age-related mental impairment. [Mol Psychiatry. 2009 Dec;14(12):1067, 1068-9.]

http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=5867

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