Study says THC could play an important role in how we process negative emotions

Research suggests marijuana could play an important, beneficial role in how humans experience emotions and mood.

By Kristen Gwynne

August 21, 2013 3:48 PM ET

It’s no secret that marijuana can put a smile on many people’s faces, but research suggests that the drug’s positive effects go beyond just getting high. A 2012 study published in the peer-reviewed academic journal European Neuropsychopharmacology suggests that the brain’s endocannabinoid system – which is activated by THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – may play an important role in emotional processing, "an essential aspect of appropriate social interactions and interpersonal relationships."

How Harsh Is Your State? Check Out Our State-By-State Weed Map

Specifically, the study’s authors found that participants given THC in a controlled experiment showed lower brain activity in response negative stimuli than did those given placebo.  A bias toward negative stimuli has been linked to mental illnesses like depression, and evidence that THC reduces this effect suggests that the endocannabinoid system could play an important, beneficial role in how humans experience emotions and mood.

Researchers measured test-specific effects of THC administration on about a dozen men who had used marijuana at least four times in the past year, but no more than once a week. Half of them were given THC, the other half placebo; the researchers then showed all the men images of faces with expressions that appeared either "fearful" or "happy." They found that participants given THC showed significantly decreased accuracy in matching facial expressions with negative emotion, but showed about the same accuracy for positive associations. Using brain imaging technology called fMRI, they were also able to watch the effects of THC on the parts of the participants’ brains that process emotion – identifying a "network-wide shift from a bias for negative emotional content towards a bias for positive emotional content."

See the Five Reasons Cops Want to Legalize Marijuana

The researchers concluded that the way the human brain reacts to THC could have significant implications for mental health treatment. "These findings," they wrote, "add to existing evidence that implicate the endocannabinoid system in modulation of emotional reactions, and support a previously suggested role for the endocannabinoid system in abnormal emotional processing associated with various psychiatric disorders."

Related

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/can-marijuana-improve-your-emotional-state-20130821#ixzz2ckq9I4FB
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

I Went From Selling Drugs to Studying Them — And Found That Most of What We Assume About Drugs Is Wrong

A scientist with a rough past explains how he used his life experiences to blow the lid off modern drug research.

June 19, 2013 |  

This is the prologue to Columbia University researcher Dr. Carl Hart’s explosive new book, " High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journal of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Psychology."  Read a Q&A with the author here.

The paradox of education is precisely this—that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.

—James Baldwin

The straight glass pipe filled with ethereal white smoke. It was thick enough to see that it could be a good hit, but it still had the wispy quality that distinguishes crack cocaine smoke from cigarette or marijuana smoke. The smoker was thirty-nine, a black man, who worked as a street bookseller. He closed his eyes and lay back in the battered leather office chair, holding his breath to keep the drug in his lungs as long as possible. Eventually, he exhaled, a serene smile on his face, his eyes closed to savor the bliss.

About fifteen minutes later, the computer signaled that another hit was available.

“No, thanks, doc,” he said, raising his left hand slightly. He hit the space bar on the Mac in the way that he’d been trained to press to signal his choice.

Although I couldn’t know for sure whether he was getting cocaine or placebo, I knew the experiment was going well. Here was a middle-aged brother, someone most people would label a “crackhead,” a guy who smoked rock at least four to five times a week, just saying no to a legal hit of what had a good chance of being 100 percent pure pharmaceutical-grade cocaine. In the movie version, he would have been demanding more within seconds of his first hit, bug-eyed and threatening—or pleading and desperate.

Nonetheless, he’d just calmly turned it down because he preferred to receive five dollars in cash instead. He’d sampled the dose of cocaine earlier in the session: he knew what he would get for his money. At five dollars for what I later learned was a low dose of real crack cocaine, he preferred the cash.

Meanwhile, there I was, another black man, raised in one of the roughest neighborhoods of Miami, who might just as easily have wound up selling cocaine on the street. Instead, I was wearing a white lab coat and being funded by grants from the federal government to provide cocaine as part of my research into understanding the real effects of drugs on behavior and physiology. The year was 1999.

In this particular experiment, I was trying to understand how crack cocaine users would respond when presented with a choice between the drug and an “alternative reinforcer”—or another type of reward, in this case, cash money. Would anything else seem valuable to them? In a calm, laboratory setting, where the participants lived in a locked ward and had a chance to earn more than they usually could on the street, would they take every dose of crack, even small ones, or would they be selective about getting high? Would merchandise vouchers be as effective as cash in altering their behavior? What would affect their choices?

Before I’d become a researcher, these weren’t even questions that I would think to ask. These were drug addicts, I would have said. No matter what, they’d do anything to get to take as much drugs as often as possible. I thought of them in the disparaging ways I’d seen them depicted in films like New Jack City and Jungle Fever and in songs like Public Enemy’s “Night of the Living Baseheads.” I’d seen some of my cousins become shells of their former selves and had blamed crack cocaine. Back then I believed that drug users could never make rational choices, especially about their drug use, because their brains had been altered or damaged by drugs.

Pages

View as a single page

CONTINUE TO ORIGINAL LINK HERE…

Study casts doubt on link between cannabis, teen IQ drop

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Related MedlinePlus Pages

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A landmark study suggesting a link between cannabis use and a drop in teenage IQ may not have gone far enough in its research, with any falls in IQ more likely due to lower socioeconomic status than marijuana, according to a Norwegian study.

The latest work, which appears in the journal PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, also suggests that different policy steps might be needed in that case.

"My study essentially shows that the methods used and analyses presented in the original research are insufficient to rule out other explanations (for lower IQ)," said Ole Rogeberg, an economist at the Frisch Centre for Economics Research in Oslo, to Reuters.

The Dunedin Multi-disciplinary Health and Development Study is an ongoing report produced by New Zealand’s University of Otago, monitoring 1,037 New Zealand children born between April 1972 and March 1973. The study followed them for 40 years.

The participants were periodically tested for IQ and other indices including drug taking, and in 2012 clinical psychologist Madeline Meier produced a study saying there was a link between teenage cannabis use and a lower IQ.

Researchers in the Meier study compared the IQ trends of people who never smoked cannabis with four groups of those who did: people who smoked, people who scored as dependent in a follow-up survey, those who scored as dependent twice and those who scored as dependent three times.

The study found IQ declines increasing "linearly" with cannabis use, Rogeberg wrote in PNAS.

The crucial assumption in the Meier study is that cannabis use is the only relevant difference between the groups tested, he said. His use of a simulation model showed that it may be premature to draw a causal inference between marijuana use and falling IQ scores.

For one thing, other writing about the Dunedin group on which Meier’s study is based suggest that early cannabis use is more common for people with poor self-control, previous conduct problems, and high scores on risk factors linked to low family socioeconomic status, he wrote.

Given these factors, young people from lower status families tended to end up in less intellectually demanding environments, whether by choice or by circumstance, which would increase the difference in IQ levels as they aged.

"We know that the researchers have measured the IQ of the participants at various ages in childhood – but we don’t know if the IQ changes were similar for the different cannabis-using groups before their cannabis use," he told Reuters.

"We don’t know how much of the change in IQ we can explain by differences in education, jail time, occupational status, etc and whether this affects the estimates in the paper."

(Reporting by Pauline Askin, editing by Elaine Lies)

Reuters Health

CONTINUE…

From the Mayo Clinic: Cannabis/Marijuana

Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)

en2661297

 

Evidence

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Chronic pain

Cannabinoids have been reported to reduce chronic pain associated with a variety of conditions. Cannabinoids have also been used in patients for whom other pain relief medications are not working. The active components in cannabis exert their effects on the central nervous system and immune cells. Cannabis is approved in some European countries and Canada. In the United States, it is an investigational drug for pain relief in cancer patients.
A

Multiple sclerosis (symptoms)

Research suggests that cannabinoids may improve some symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis (MS), specifically neuropathic pain, muscle spasms, and urinary symptoms.
A

Eczema

Early studies suggest that taking hemp seed oil by mouth may reduce symptoms of eczema, a skin rash also referred to as atopic dermatitis. Additional research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
C

Epilepsy

Early research suggests that epileptic patients may experience fewer seizures when taking cannabidiol (CBD) together with antiseizure medication. Further studies are required before a conclusion can be made.
C

Glaucoma (high fluid pressure inside the eye)

Glaucoma can result in optic nerve damage and blindness. Limited evidence suggests that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) taken under the tongue may reduce eye pressure. Additional research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
C

Huntington’s disease

Huntington’s disease is a degenerative nerve disorder associated with uncoordinated, jerky body movements and mental deterioration. Early studies suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) may not aid in reducing the severity of uncoordinated body movements associated with Huntington’s disease. Further studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
C

Insomnia

Limited research suggests that cannabidiol may improve sleep quality in those with insomnia (difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep). More research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
C

Appetite/weight loss in cancer patients

Clinical studies have shown no effect of cannabis-based therapies in the treatment of weight loss associated with cancer. Further studies are necessary before a conclusion can be made.
D

Schizophrenia

In limited research, no effect of cannabidiol (CBD) was seen on symptoms of schizophrenia in patients for whom other treatments were not working. Additional research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
D

Key to grades
A Strong scientific evidence for this use
B Good scientific evidence for this use
C Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work)
F Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work)

 

Uses based on tradition or theory

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Acne, addiction, allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, angina (chest pain), angioedema (swelling under the skin), arthritis, antiaging, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anxiety prevention, appetite stimulant, asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autoimmune diseases, bipolar disorder (mental disorder), blood thinner, bronchodilation (widens airways and eases breathing), burns, cancer, candidiasis (yeast infection), circulation improvement, constipation, cough, detoxification (removal of toxins), diabetes, digestive aid, diuretic (improves urine flow), dystonia (muscle disorder), energy metabolism, fatigue, gastric acid secretion stimulation (increases stomach acid), general health maintenance, genitourinary tract disorders (disorders of the reproductive and urinary systems), hair growth promoter, heart disease, high blood pressure, hormone regulation, immune suppression, increased muscle mass, increasing breast milk, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), intermittent claudication (pain in arms or legs due to inadequate oxygen), interstitial cystitis (bladder disorder), irregular heartbeat, leukemia (cancer of blood cells), lipid lowering (cholesterol and triglycerides), liver protection, lymph flow enhancement, menopausal symptoms, migraine, muscle relaxation, nausea and vomiting, nerve disorders, neural tube defects (birth defects), osteoporosis (bone loss), painful menstruation, pregnancy and labor, psychosis, rheumatism (joint disease), sedative, sexual performance, skin conditions, spinal cord injury, stomach spasms, stroke, tendonitis, uterine stimulant, varicose veins, vitamin C deficiency, weight gain (patients with HIV or cancer), wound healing.

 

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

For nausea and vomiting, five milligrams/m 2 of body mass of dronabinol (Marinol®) has been taken by mouth before and after chemotherapy, for a total of 4-6 doses daily.

For weight loss and malnutrition associated with cancer, 2.5 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with or without one milligram of cannabidiol has been taken by mouth for six weeks.

For eczema, hemp seed oil has been taken by mouth for 20 weeks.

For chronic pain, 2.5-120 milligrams of cannabis has been taken by mouth in divided doses.

For epilepsy, 200-300 milligrams of cannabidiol (CBD) has been taken by mouth daily for up to 4.5 months.

For insomnia, 160 milligrams of cannabidiol (CBD) has been taken by mouth.

For symptoms of multiple sclerosis, 2.5-10 milligrams of dronabinol (Marinol®) has been taken by mouth daily for three weeks. Capsules containing 15-30 milligrams of cannabis extract has been taken by mouth for 14 days. Two and one-half milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), together with 0.9 milligrams of cannabidiol (CBD), has been taken by mouth. Cannabinoid-based Sativex® mouth spray has been used at a dose of 2.5-120 milligrams in divided doses. Eight sprays in three hours and up to 48 sprays in 24 hours have been used.

For schizophrenia, 40-1,280 milligrams of cannabidiol (CBD) has been taken by mouth daily for up to four weeks.

For glaucoma (high fluid pressure in the eye), single doses of five milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or 40 milligrams of cannabidiol (CBD) placed under the tongue have been used.

Children (under 18 years old)

There is no proven safe or effective dose for cannabis or cannabis-containing products in children.

CONTINUE READING….

Why Do Clinics Deny Painkillers To Medical Marijuana Patients?

By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~

pills0409_image.jpeg

Should health care facilities have the power to make lifestyle decisions for you — and punish you when your choices don’t measure up to their ideals? More and more hospitals are making exactly those kinds of decisions when it comes to people who choose to use marijuana — even legal patients in medical marijuana states. Apparently, these places don’t mind looking exactly as if they have more loyalty to their Big Pharma benefactors than they do to their own patients.

A new policy at one Alaska clinic — requiring patients taking painkilling medications to be marijuana free — serves to highlight the hypocrisy and cruelty of such rules, which are used at more and more health care facilities, particularly the big corporate chains (the clinic in question is a member of the Banner Health chain).

Tanana Valley Clinic, in Fairbanks, started handing out prepared statements to all chronic pain patients on Monday, said Corinne Leistikow, assistant medical director for family practice at TVC, reports Dorothy Chomicz at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.


"We will no longer prescribe controlled substances, such as opiates and benzodiazepines, to patients who are using marijuana (THC)," the statement reads in part. "These drugs are psychoactive substances and it is not safe for you to take them together." (This statement is patently false; marijuana has no known dangerous reactions with any other drugs, and in fact, since marijuana relieves chronic pain, it often makes it possible for pain patients to take smaller, safer doses of opiates and other drugs.)

LIAR, LIAR: Corinne Leistikow, M.D. says "patients who use opiates and marijuana together are at much higher risk of death." We’d love to see the study you’re talking about, Corinne.

"Your urine will be tested for marijuana," patients are sternly warned. "If you test positive you will have two months to get it out of your system. You will be retested in two months. If you still have THC in your urine, we will no longer prescribe controlled substances for you."

TVC patient Scott Ide, who takes methadone to control chronic back pain, also uses medical marijuana to ease the nausea and vomiting caused by gastroparesis. He believes TVC decided to change its policy after an Anchorage-based medical marijuana authorization clinic spend three days in Fairbanks in June, helping patients get the necessary documentation to get a state medical marijuana card.

"I’m a victim of circumstance because of what occurred," Ide said. "I was already a patient with her — I was already on this regimen. We already knew what we were doing to get me better and work things out for me. I think it’s wrong."

Ide, a former Alaska State Trooper, said he was addicted to painkillers, but medical marijuana helped him wean himself off all medications except methadone.

Leistikow admitted that the new policy may force some patients to drive all the way to Anchorage, because there are only a few chronic pain specialists in Fairbanks. Still, she claimed the strict new policy was "necessary."

The assistant medical director is so eager to defend the clinic’s new policy that she took a significant departure from the facts in so doing.

"What we have decided as a clinic — we’re setting policy for which patients we can take care of and which ones we can’t — patients who use opiates and marijuana together are at much higher risk of death, abuse and misuse of medications, of having side effects from their medications, and recommendations are generally that patients on those should be followed by a pain specialist," Leistikow lied.

Patients who use opiates and marijuana together are NOT in fact at higher risk of death, abuse, misuse and side effects; I invite Ms. Leistikow to produce any studies which indicate they are. As mentioned earlier, pain patients who also use marijuana are usually able to use smaller, safer doses of painkillers than would be the case without cannabis supplementation.

CONTINUE READING HERE…

Baby soaps cause positive marijuana tests in infants…

A new study out of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill reveals some baby soaps may cause infants to test positive for marijuana, reports My Health News Daily.

While researchers aren’t sure why the tests came out positive, they asserted infants were not experiencing a "high" from the soap.

"It’s not marijuana in any way, shape or form," said study researcher Catherine Hammett-Stabler, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of North Carolina.

Researchers first became aware of the issue when nurses at a North Carolina hospital noticed a high number of positive urine tests, according to WFMY News.

The study was conducted so families wouldn’t be falsely accused of exposing children to illegal drugs, a form of child abuse that would need to be reported to social services.