Delta 9 THC Tetrahydrocannabinol Sparks Positive Brain Activity

Our good friend, the much-maligned cannabis plant – and her active cannabinoids have a long a long and storied history of relieving stress, helping people forget their daily frustrations – and generally giving consumers the ability to find humor (or at least tolerance) in their daily frustrations. Yet new evidence points to the plants positive effects going well beyond just… getting stoned. A 2012 study published in the peer-reviewed academic Journal European Neuropsychopharmacology advocates that the brains endocannabinoid system – known to be fired up by THC, the highly sought after psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – likely plays a key role in emotional processing.”

Researchers from the Netherlands and the UK looked at “Various psychiatric disorders such as major depression are associated with abnormalities in emotional processing. Evidence indicating involvement of the endocannabinoid system in emotional processing, and thus potentially in related abnormalities, is increasing. In the present study, we examined the role of the endocannabinoid system in processing of stimuli with a positive and negative emotional content in healthy volunteers.”

For their research scientists performed a functional magnetic resonance imaging study that “was conducted with a placebo-controlled, cross-over design, investigating effects of the endocannabinoid agonist ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on brain function related to emotional processing in 11 healthy subjects. Performance and brain activity during matching of stimuli with a negative (‘fearful faces’) or a positive content (‘happy faces’) were assessed after placebo and THC administration.”

As suspected, researchers noted reduced brain activity after the administration of  ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol when subjects’ processed stimuli with a negative emotional content. Conversely, researchers reported increased brain activity following THC administration when subjects’ processed stimuli with a positive emotional content.

Ultimately concluding: “These results indicate that THC administration reduces the negative bias in emotional processing. This adds human evidence to support the hypothesis that the endocannabinoid system is involved in modulation of emotional processing.”


STUDY: THC will help you get to Sleep.

A new study published in the American Journal of Addiction, and funded in part by the National Institute of Health has found that THC one of the primary components of cannabis – is “significantly associated with shorter sleep latency”, as well as “less difficulty falling asleep”.

For the study, “Thirteen male chronic daily cannabis smokers were administered oral THC doses (20 mg) around-the-clock for 7 days (40–120 mg daily) starting the afternoon after admission.”

Every morning, a questionnaire was completed by the participants, and “Plasma THC and 11-OH-THC (active metabolite) concentrations were measured in venous blood samples collected every evening. Changes in sleep characteristics over time and associations between sleep characteristics and plasma cannabinoid concentrations were evaluated with repeated measures mixed linear regression.”

Using this method, researchers conclude; “Higher evening THC and 11-OH-THC concentrations were significantly associated with shorter sleep latency, less difficulty falling asleep, and more daytime sleep the following day.”

For anyone who has ever consumed cannabis, these results are certainly less than surprising. Still, being a government-funded study which indicates that cannabis can help with conditions such as insomnia, and even just standard sleep-troubles, it still holds some significance in validating cannabis as a medicine.

The Joint Blog

Study: Marijuana Smokers Have a More Positive Attitude.

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."

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."

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."

Rolling Stone Magazine

Drug Test Detection Times for Marijuana

How long do drug tests detect marijuana? There is no simple answer to this question. Detection time depends strongly on the kind and sensitivity of the test employed; the frequency, dosage, and last time of use; the individual subject's genetic makeup, the state of one's metabolism, digestive and excretory systems; and other random, unknown factors. 

The basic drug test types and their approximate detection times are shown in the table below.

The most popular kind of drug test is the urine test, which can detect marijuana for days or weeks after use. Note that urine tests do not detect the psychoactive component in marijuana, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), and therefore in no way measure impairment; rather, they detect the non-psychoactive marijuana metabolite THC-COOH, which can linger in the body for days and weeks with no impairing effects. Because of THC-COOH's unusually long elimination time, urine tests are more sensitive to marijuana than other commonly used drugs. According to a survey by Quest Diagnostics, 50% of all drug test positives are for marijuana. 

Blood tests are a better detector of recent use since they measure the active presence of THC in the system. Because they are invasive and difficult to administer, blood tests are used less frequently. They are typically used in investigations of accidents, injuries and DUIs, where they can give a useful indication of whether the subject was actually under the influence.

Hair tests are the most objectionable form of drug testing, since they do not measure current use, but rather non-psychoactive residues that remain in the hair for months afterward. These residues are absorbed internally and do not appear in the hair until 7-10 days after first use. Afterwards, they cannot be washed out by shampoos (though shampoos may help remove external smoke particles that get stuck in the hair). Hair tests are more likely to detect regular than occasional marijuana use. One study found that 85% of daily users tested positive for marijuana, versus 52% of occasional smokers (1-5 times per week). Ingested cannabis was less likely to be detected than smoked marijuana. It is doubtful whether hair tests are sensitive to the one-time use of marijuana. 

Saliva testing is a newer, less proven technology. The sensitivity of saliva tests is not well established in the case of marijuana. In theory, they are supposed to detect recent use, but this may range from several hours to over a day. They are supposed to detect secretions from inside the oral tissues that cannot be washed out with mouthwash. Because they are less intrusive than blood or urine tests, the industry has been eager to develop saliva tests. Due to reliability problems, they have yet to gain acceptance in the U.S., but they have come into use in some other countries, such as Australia. An international study of various onsite saliva tests concluded that no device was reliable enough to be recommended for roadside screening of drivers.

From:  California NORML

Vaporizing MMJ and Neuropathic Pain

Researchers at the University of California, Davis recently completed a study on the effects of vaporized cannabis on neuropathic pain. The study was sponsored by the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research and the VA Northern California Health Care System.

Neuropathic pain refers to the perception of pain when there is no reason, biologically. It is the result of damage or disease to the somatosensory system, which controls the sensations associated with touch. 

The somatosensory system covers the skin, bones, joints, skeletal muscles, and internal organs; it is responsible for the perception of pain, temperature, and tactile touch.

Vaporized Cannabis Significantly Reduced Neuropathic Pain Because it affects the nervous system, neuropathic pain is very difficult to treat. Cannabinoids present in cannabis are known to interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors within the nervous system, and even have analgesic (pain-killing) effects. It’s this knowledge that led to the study, which was titled “The Analgesic Effect of Vaporized Cannabis on Neuropathic Pain.”

The same group of people were studied for the amount of pain they experienced when exposed to 3 levels of treatment. There was a mild THC-dose treatment, a low THC-dose treatment, and a placebo treatment. In order to gauge the treatment’s success, the participants were asked to rate their pain on a scale from 0 (no pain) to 100 (worst pain possible). They did so before treatment and every hour after treatment for 6 hours.

In order for a treatment to be deemed successful, it must have caused at least a 3o-point reduction in perceived pain. The “mild” treatment (3.53% THC) was found successful in 61% of the participants. Not far behind was the “low” treatment (1.29% THC); it was successful in 57% of the participants. As for the placebo treatment (trace amount of THC), it was only successful in 26% of participants.

Interestingly enough, one could easily argue that the success of the placebo treatment may be due to the trace amounts of cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is not the only cannabinoid with known analgesic effects and it’s possible that other cannabinoids were present in the placebo.

Nonetheless, the results of this study show that small doses cannabis could play a role in reducing neuropathic pain. Damage to the nervous system is often impossible to reverse, and vaporizing cannabis is a viable option that allows patients to enjoy a better quality of life.

Another Great Article by: Medical Jane

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