FROM OUR EXPERTS
This is the third in our series on medical marijuana for bipolar. In the first piece , we made a conditional case for marijuana to treat bipolar, with some major provisos. The second piece compared the risk/benefits of medical marijuana with prescription drugs.
In this installment, we look at the endocannabis system that marijuana acts upon.
Endocannabinoids (ECs) are naturally occurring compounds throughout the brain and body that regulate cellular signaling and cellular maintenance. They function in a similar fashion to neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, except they travel backward, against the flow, from the postsynaptic cell to the presynaptic cell.
At the presynaptic cell, the ECs dock to CR1 and CR2 cannabinoid receptors and release their chemical messages. One of the effects may be to inhibit the release of certain neurotransmitters from the presynaptic cell back to the postsynaptic cell.
In effect, the postsynaptic cell restricts the f...
Tailoring medication to the needs of the individual has always been something of a hit-and-miss affair when it comes to anxiety. The prescribing doctor has no way of predicting whether a patient will respond positively to the prescription they are about to write. Almost inevitably this leads to a series of repeat visits where the patient attempts to describe the effects of their medication and the doctor tries to modify their prescription or dosage accordingly.
A team of researchers have now focused their attention on mechanisms of the brain that may one day help doctors prescribe medication with a lot more certainty. Dr Luan Phan and colleagues, have recently reported some interesting findings in the Journal of Neuroscience, using a combination of brain scans and marijuana.
Marijuana contains the active ingredient delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is known to help reduce the brain's response to threats in a region of the brain known as the amygdala. The amygdala i...
What is the nervous system designed to do? Nerves make the arms and legs move. Nerves make the heart beat and the lungs breathe. Ultimately, the entire nervous system is designed to keep the body alive. That is its most primal function. If a lion is chasing, the body runs. If the hand touches something hot, it jerks away. Just like a built-in alarm system, this system of nerves will alert the body to danger and trigger automatic protective responses. Normally, this system works beautifully and life is preserved well into adulthood.
However, in some cases, this alarm system goes haywire. For example, some people are born with the inability to feel pain , a condition called the congenital insensitivity to pain . That condition is not a blessing, but a curse that leads to insurmountable body damage and a premature death. The nervous system can go haywire in other ways too. What happens if this alarm system is too sensitive? Now instead of feeling no pain, one is left to feel too muc...
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