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Extended periods of stress can lead to a harmful response of the immune system known as inflammation. Over past decades, studies have linked chronic stress to not only depression and fatigue, but more severe neurological disorders as well.
Yet marijuana, a well known stress reliever, may be able to prevent these ailments, according to new findings published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.
Researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain conducted a number of experiments with rats and found by activating certain marijuana pathways, they were able to reverse the inflammatory response caused by chronic stress.
The pathways, known as CB2 receptors, are found on many immune cells in the body and act to regulate their activity.
“In conclusion, we have found evidence of an anti-inflammatory profile for CB2 receptor activation,” wrote Dr. Borja García-Bueno and his team.
The researchers add that targeting these pathways could be useful “for the treatment of stress-related pathologies with a neuroinflammatory component, such as depression.”
While the study involved JWH-133, a synthetic chemical that targets CB2 receptors specifically, the authors note that similar results have been obtained by targeting CB1 receptors as well.
CB1 receptors are responsible for the marijuana high, while CB2 receptors are not. As such, scientists have begun to focus on chemicals that can target CB2 pathways exclusively.
Nevertheless, the team concludes that drugs which act on both CB1 and CB2 pathways may hold promise for the management of stress-related neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases.