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Cannabis And Serotonin

Added 24 May 2021

Introduction

When it comes to substances that are known for their "feel good" effect, cannabis will be on top of many people's list as a go-to substance to have good feelings and pleasant interactions with our environment. We all know that when you get high in a good way, that you will be in for a very good time! But how come? Why does this happen and what can the scientific and medical world tell us about this? This phenomenon has a lot to do with the neurochemical called serotonin and the effect it has on your body and how you feel. Let us take a closer look at the connection between serotonin and cannabis!

What is it?

A neurotransmitter helps to send messages throughout the body between different nerve cells, and serotonin is one of them. It is responsible for acting as a natural mood stabilizer and has an effect on many other bodily functions such as the regulation of mood, appetite, and also others. Serotonin is produced through a process called conversion and it goes from being an essential amino acid, tryptophan, and tryptophan hydroxylase. Tryptophan can be found in common foods like cheese, red meat, and nuts. When you have a lack of this amino acid in your diet, this will result in a serotonin level reduction. This, in turn, is linked to anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. It's because of factors like this that our diet is so closely linked to our mood and emotions. In your nervous system, there are serotonergic neurons and within these, serotonin can help neurological cells to form connections, and depending on levels of serotonin this will have an effect on different aspects of the human body and the following are just a few :

  • Mood
  • Memory
  • Sleep
  • Sexual Desire
  • Learning
  • Appetite
  • Social Behavior
  • Temperature Regulation
  • Muscle Performance
  • Bowel Function

In a study that was published by the Journal of World Psychiatry, there is clear evidence that serotonin is directly tied to depression, in other words : people who have a serotonin imbalance or low levels will have a bigger chance of struggling with depression. The most common prescription for depression is in the form of antidepressants, most of these do not produce more serotonin but prevent the body from destroying it in fact so that the levels increase.

Cannabis and Serotonin

If there is a fact that we can state about cannabis, it is the following : We know that it can have a positive effect on your body and your brain and its neurology, but, unfortunately, because of the lack of research actually performed on humans, we cannot state that we fully understand the workings of this mechanism behind it. For example, we know that THC is a stimulant for the CB1 receptor but on the other hand, we do not fully grasp yet what is actually happening and how exactly they get triggered and how it has an effect on the release of serotonin.



But even with not a lot of research and facts to go by, there is also another side to what cannabis can do with your levels of serotonin, especially once the word abuse sets in because you should be aware of the following statement : there is a chance you will have issues with your ability to release serotonin!
In another study, this time published by the Journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences did research on how extremely high rates of cannabis have an effect on the brain's reaction with serotonin and dopamine levels. What was happening is the following : Because of the high levels of cannabis use, the participant's brains actually became over-sensitive to serotonin and dopamine, and to get the same effect they had to use more and more cannabis over time. This infinite cycle created a situation where the brain itself had less ability to react with serotonin and dopamine which results in less enjoyment or fewer feelings of sensation, this is called serotonin syndrome. So to the reader of this article, please be aware of your cannabis use, but in life, it is always the same, once the word abuse sets in, then it is time for a change!

Boosting serotonin levels

Since this article is not made to get everybody started with using cannabis we had the idea of mentioning a few ways how you can boost your own serotonin levels in a more simple and healthy way.

  1. The first is the most simple one. Go outside and enjoy the sun! There are more than a few studies out there that have proven that there is a direct connection between the way we feel and the amounts of hours of sunlight that we are exposed to on a daily basis.
  2. Exercising is not only a good thing to stay in shape and look fit, but it also has a massive impact on serotonin and dopamine levels in the body, just think of the term "runners high"!
  3. There is a saying out there that you are what you eat, and in a way, that is true because there are a bunch of foods out there that have the substance tryptophan, and that is what our digestive system needs in order for our body to produce serotonin and can be found in the following foods :
    Eggs
    Chicken
    Pasta
    Cereal
    Bananas
    Rice

Conclusion

The relationship or the connection of cannabis and the feeling of good vibes, joy, and happiness will always be there, no matter how you use it (smoking, vaping, edibles, etc ). But it is very important to stay informed at all times and to pay close attention to your feelings of happiness and contentment in your life. If you feel a need to reduce anxiety or depression it is highly advised to look for proper assistance and going to your doctor before you think of using cannabis for these matters because there is a risk of it having the opposite effect and we always have to be aware of the people around us not jumping into abuse.
When it comes to conclusive evidence on these matters there is still a lot of research to be done by the scientific and medical world to document the workings of these mechanisms in our bodies but we can say for sure that there is a direct connection between the release of serotonin and using cannabis.
There is much more needed to provide a good piece of writing or advice to go by on how using cannabis as a treatment for different disorders and mental health issues. For sure in the coming decades to come, this will become a topic of valid research!

Feel free to drop a line down below in the comment section!

References

Serotonin Syndrome versus Cannabis Toxicity in the Emergency Department - Jacob W. Baltz, Lamanh T. Le ( 2020 )

The Connection Between Marijuana and Serotonin - Dylan Baker ( 2020 )

Descending serotonergic and noradrenergic systems do not regulate the antipruritic effects of cannabinoids - Zeynep Gizem Todurga, Ozgur Gunduz, Cetin Hakan Karadag, Ahmet Ulugol ( 2016 )

Serotonin Syndrome: Too Much of a Good Thing - Northpoint Staff ( 2017 )

 

What has serotonin to do with depression? - Philip J Cowen, Michael Browning ( 2015 )

Decreased dopamine brain reactivity in marijuana abusers is associated with negative emotionality and addiction severity - Nora D. Volkow, Gene-Jack Wang, Frank Telang, Joanna S. Fowler, David Alexoff, Jean Logan ( 2014 )

This article was updated May 2021






Comments

Eauderay
Eauderay

Interesting article, the best food full of tryptophan and much much more is milk Kefir! One of the best drink around if made at home! Also nigella sativa oil mixed with the best honey you can afford and you have a recipe against all diseases but death! Lol
On another note if one day cannabis gives you a panic attack with stomach pain, take a warm bath and pour water on your tummy while you do mindfulness lbreathing exercise, it helps a lot release the neurotransmitters, reset it...
It happened to me 4 years ago, I was in a particular stressful period in my life and my body reacted the opposite way it does normally, and I did not even smoke a lot, but was tired and run down...

JoshuaVanMaele
JoshuaVanMaele

@Eauderay,We all go through hard times, thank you for this comment!

TastyBudzz
TastyBudzz

Do to prohibition for 80 years and no legal studies done . We don't know how Cannabis and Cannabinoids and terpenes affect us. People with serious depression , O.C. disorder , ect. take serotonin uptake inhibitor s .
Yeah abuse a drug , hell abuse sugar, and you will have bad health.

So how do cannabinoids and terpenes affect serotonin up take? We don't know as no studies have been done .

JoshuaVanMaele
JoshuaVanMaele

@TastyBudzz,
When it comes to conclusive evidence on these matters there is still a lot of research to be done by the scientific and medical world to document the workings of these mechanisms in our bodies but we can say for sure that there is a direct connection between the release of serotonin and using cannabis.
There is much more needed to provide a good piece of writing or advice to go by on how using cannabis as a treatment for different disorders and mental health issues. For sure in the coming decades to come, this will become a topic of valid research!