Why Cannabis Affects Women Differently

Source: Frontiers.

Cannabis use is riding high on a decade-long wave of decriminalization, legalization and unregulated synthetic substitutes. As society examines the impact, an interesting disparity has become apparent: the risks are different in females than in males.

A new review of animal studies says that sex differences in response to cannabis are not just socio-cultural, but biological too. Published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, it examines the influence of sex hormones like testosterone, estradiol (estrogen) and progesterone on the endocannabinoid system: networks of brain cells which communicate using the same family of chemicals found in cannabis, called ‘cannabinoids’.

Animal studies

“It has been pretty hard to get laboratory animals to self-administer cannabinoids like human cannabis users,” says study co-author Dr Liana Fattore, Senior Researcher at the National Research Council of Italy and President of the Mediterranean Society of Neuroscience. “However, animal studies on the effects of sex hormones and anabolic steroids on cannabinoid self-administration behavior have contributed a lot to our current understanding of sex differences in response to cannabis.”

So how does cannabis affect men and women differently? Besides genetic background and hormonal fluctuations, the paper highlights a number of important sex differences.

Men are up to four times more likely to try cannabis – and use higher doses, more frequently.

“Male sex steroids increase risk-taking behavior and suppress the brain’s reward system, which could explain why males are more likely to try drugs, including cannabis” explains Fattore. “This is true for both natural male sex steroids like testosterone and synthetic steroids like nandrolone.”

But despite lower average cannabis use, women go from first hit to habit faster than men. In fact, men and women differ not only in the prevalence and frequency of cannabis use, pattern and reasons of use, but also in the vulnerability to develop cannabis use disorder.

“Females seem to be more vulnerable, at a neurochemical level, in developing addiction to cannabis,” explains Fattore.

“Studies in rats show that the female hormone estradiol affects control of movement, social behavior and filtering of sensory input to the brain – all targets of drug taking – via modulation of the endocannabinoid system, whose feedback in turn influences estradiol production.

“Specifically, female rats have different levels of endocannabinoids and more sensitive receptors than males in key brain areas related to these functions, with significant changes along the menstrual cycle.

cannabis leaves

“As a result, the interactions between the endocannabinoid system and the brain level of dopamine – the neurotransmitter of “pleasure” and “reward” – are sex-dependent.”

Human impact

The inconsistency of conditions in these studies greatly complicates interpretation of an already complex role of sex hormones in the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoid sensitivity.

“The effects varied according the specific cannabinoid studied, as well as the strain of animals tested and duration of hormone exposure,” admits Fattore. However, the human data so far are consistent with the idea that estradiol regulates the female response to cannabinoids. As in animals, human males and females are diverse in their genetic and hormonally driven behaviour and they process information differently, perceive emotions in different ways and are differently vulnerable to develop drug addiction.

“Blood levels of enzymes which break down cannabinoids fluctuate across the human menstrual cycle, and imaging studies show that brain levels of cannabinoid receptors increase with aging in females – mirroring in each case changes in estradiol levels.”

Fattore believes that deepening our understanding of the interactions between cannabinoids and sex steroids is crucial in assessing the impact of increasing cannabis use, and tackling the fallout.

“Gender-tailored detoxification treatments and relapse prevention strategies for patients with cannabis addiction are increasingly requested. Optimizing personalized evidence-based prevention and treatment protocols demands further research on the source of sex disparities in cannabis response.”

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Source: Matt Prior – Frontiers
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Open access research for “The Modulating Role of Sex and Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Hormones in Cannabinoid Sensitivity” by Dicky Struik, Fabrizio Sanna and Liana Fattore in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. Published October 26 2018.
doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00249

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Frontiers”Why Cannabis Affects Women Differently.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 26 October 2018.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/women-cannabis-10093/&gt;.

Abstract

The Modulating Role of Sex and Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Hormones in Cannabinoid Sensitivity

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug worldwide. Although its use is associated with multiple adverse health effects, including the risk of developing addiction, recreational and medical cannabis use is being increasing legalized. In addition, use of synthetic cannabinoid drugs is gaining considerable popularity and is associated with mass poisonings and occasional deaths. Delineating factors involved in cannabis use and addiction therefore becomes increasingly important. Similarly to other drugs of abuse, the prevalence of cannabis use and addiction differs remarkably between males and females, suggesting that sex plays a role in regulating cannabinoid sensitivity. Although it remains unclear how sex may affect the initiation and maintenance of cannabis use in humans, animal studies strongly suggest that endogenous sex hormones modulate cannabinoid sensitivity. In addition, synthetic anabolic-androgenic steroids alter substance use and further support the importance of sex steroids in controlling drug sensitivity. The recent discovery that pregnenolone, the precursor of all steroid hormones, controls cannabinoid receptor activation corroborates the link between steroid hormones and the endocannabinoid system. This article reviews the literature regarding the influence of endogenous and synthetic steroid hormones on the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoid action.

Fresh raw marijuana nutrition facts

cannaFresh raw marijuana is a complete food source.

It can be eaten in salads or juiced.

No other single plant source has the essential amino acids in such an easily digestible form that provides instant food energy.

Fresh raw marijuana contains all the essential amino acids and fatty acids necessary in maintaining healthy human life. Fresh raw marijuana has the perfect 3-1 ratio of omega 6 and 3 fatty acids.

Fresh raw marijuana has an abundant supply of nutrients like magnesium, Phytosterols, Ascorbic Acid, Beta Carotene, Calcium, Folic Acid, Fiber, Iron, Potassium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Riboflavin, Niacin and Thiamine.

Fresh raw marijuana is also rich in vitamin A, E, D and B12.

The Amino Acids in fresh raw marijuana is an excellent source of digestible protein.

BENEFITS

Fresh raw marijuana is beneficial for skin conditions like sunburn, acme, eczema and psoriasis. Fresh raw marijuana rejuvenates the skin.

Fresh raw marijuana relieves symptoms of PMS and is an effective anti-inflammatory that provides pain relieve from arthritis.

Fresh raw marijuana provides instant energy and reduces fatigue.

Fresh raw marijuana improves memory, concentration and alertness.

Fresh raw marijuana improves emotional stability and cognitive abilities. Fresh raw marijuana also increases learning abilities.

Fresh raw marijuana will prevent disease and boost your immune system.

The big question is where do I get my hands on fresh raw marijuana?

Well you pretty much have to grow your own if it can be done legally.

Grow your herb organically under full spectrum light for best results. Natural sunlight produces the best medicine. Some growers grow organically in a healthy growing environment but not all growers grow for the same reasons so find a grower that can provide you with the quality you are looking for.

“The Medical Marijuana Guide. NATURES PHARMACY.” has more information on fresh raw marijuana and how fresh raw marijuana can benefit you as a source of nutrition and medicine.

Low Dose THC Can Relieve Stress But More Does Just the Opposite

Summary: A new study reports low doses of THC can help to lower social anxiety and stress, while higher levels can increase anxious feelings.

Source: University of Illinois.

Cannabis smokers often report that they use the drug to relax or relieve stress, but few studies provide clinical evidence of these effects.

Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago report that low levels tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, does reduce stress, but in a highly dose-dependent manner: very low doses lessened the jitters of a public-speaking task, while slightly higher doses — enough to produce a mild “high” — actually increased anxiety.

Cannabis is a highly regulated category 1 substance, and permits to study the drug are difficult to obtain. While it is common knowledge that many people use cannabis for its stress-relieving effects, “very few published studies have looked into the effects of THC on stress, or at the effects of different levels of THC on stress,” says Emma Childs, associate professor of psychiatry in the UIC College of Medicine and corresponding author on the study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

“We found that THC at low doses reduced stress, while higher doses had the opposite effect, underscoring the importance of dose when it comes to THC and its effects.”

Childs and her colleagues recruited 42 healthy volunteers 18 to 40 years old who had some experience with cannabis use but who were not daily users.

Participants were randomly divided into three groups: The low-dose group received a capsule containing 7.5 milligrams of THC; the moderate-dose group received a capsule containing 12.5 milligrams of THC; and a placebo group received a capsule containing none. Neither the participants nor the researchers knew who was in each group.

“The doses used in the study produce effects that are equivalent to only a few puffs of a cannabis cigarette,” said Childs, noting that it is difficult to compare doses of smoked cannabis to doses of ingested THC. “We didn’t want to include a much larger dose, because we wanted to avoid potential adverse effects or cardiovascular effects that can result from higher doses of THC.”

Participants attended two four-hour sessions at the University of Chicago, five days apart. At each session, they took their capsule and then relaxed for two hours to allow the THC to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

During one session, participants were asked to spend 10 minutes preparing for a mock job interview. They were then subjected to a five-minute interview with lab assistants who did not offer any feedback, verbally or through body language, although video display was visible to the participant, showing their performance. Participants were then instructed to count backwards from a five-digit number by subtracting 13, for five minutes — a task that is “very reliably stress-inducing,” Childs said.

In their second visit, participants were asked to talk to lab assistants about a favorite book or movie for five minutes and then play solitaire for another five minutes.

Before, during and after each of the two activities, participants rated their stress levels and feelings about the tasks. Blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol, a key stress hormone, were measured at intervals.

The participants who received 7.5 milligrams of THC reported less stress after the psychosocial test than those given a placebo, and their stress levels dissipated faster after the test.

Participants who received 12.5 milligrams of THC before the two tasks reported greater negative mood before and throughout the task, and were more likely to rate the psychosocial task as “challenging” and “threatening” beforehand. Participants who received this dose also had more pauses during the mock interview compared to those in the placebo group.

There were no significant differences in participants’ blood pressure, heart rate or cortisol levels — before, during or after the doses or the tasks.

Image shows a marijuana leaf.

“Our findings provide some support for the common claim that cannabis is used to reduce stress and relieve tension and anxiety,” Childs said. “At the same time, our finding that participants in the higher THC group reported small but significant increases in anxiety and negative mood throughout the test supports the idea that THC can also produce the opposite effect.”

“Studies like these — examining the effects of cannabis and its pharmacological constituents under controlled conditions — are extremely important, considering the widespread use of cannabis for both medical and non-medical purposes,” she said. “Unfortunately, significant regulatory obstacles make it extremely difficult to conduct this type of research — with the result that cannabis is now widely available for medical purposes with minimal scientific foundation.”

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Funding: Joseph Lutz of UIC and Harriet de Wit of the University of Chicago are co-authors on the study, which was supported by grant DA02812 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Source: Sharon Parmet – University of Illinois
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Abstract for “Dose-related effects of delta-9-THC on emotional responses to acute psychosocial stress” by Emma Childs, Joseph A. Lutz, and arriet de Wit in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Published online May 30 2017 doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.03.030

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University of Illinois “Low Dose THC Can Relieve Stress But More Does Just the Opposite.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 4 June 2017.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/stress-low-thc-6826/&gt;.

Abstract

Dose-related effects of delta-9-THC on emotional responses to acute psychosocial stress

Objectives

Cannabis smokers often report that they use the drug to relax or to relieve emotional stress. However, few clinical studies have shown evidence of the stress-relieving effects of cannabis or cannabinoid agonists. In this study, we sought to assess the influence of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a main active ingredient of cannabis, upon emotional responses to an acute psychosocial stressor among healthy young adults.

Methods

Healthy volunteers (N = 42) participated in two experimental sessions, one with psychosocial stress (Trier Social Stress Test, TSST) and another with a non-stressful task, after receiving 0 (N = 13), 7.5 mg (N = 14) or 12.5 mg (N = 15) oral THC. Capsules were administered under randomized, double blind conditions, 2.5-h before the tasks began. We measured subjective mood and drug effects, vital signs and salivary cortisol before and at repeated times after the capsule and tasks. Subjects also appraised the tasks, before and after completion.

Results

In comparison to placebo, 7.5 mg THC significantly reduced self-reported subjective distress after the TSST and attenuated post-task appraisals of the TSST as threatening and challenging. By contrast, 12.5 mg THC increased negative mood overall i.e., both before and throughout the tasks, and pre-task ratings of the TSST as threatening and challenging. It also impaired TSST performance and attenuated blood pressure reactivity to the stressor.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that a low dose of THC produces subjective stress-relieving effects in line with those commonly reported among cannabis users, but that higher doses may non-specifically increase negative mood.

“Dose-related effects of delta-9-THC on emotional responses to acute psychosocial stress” by Emma Childs, Joseph A. Lutz, and arriet de Wit in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Published online May 30 2017 doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.03.030

Further Evidence for Casual Link Between Schizophrenia and Cannabis

Summary: Schizophrenia risk may predict cannabis use, rather than the other way around, a new study reports.

Source: University of Bristol.

The study from the University of Bristol comes on the back of public health warnings issued earlier this year by scientists who voiced concerns about the increased risk of psychosis for vulnerable people who use the drug. Those warnings followed evidence to suggest an increased use of particularly high potency strains of cannabis among young people. However, experts cautioned that the risks should not be overstated given the need for greater research into links between mental health and illicit drugs.

This latest study from Bristol’s School of Experimental Psychology sheds fresh light on the issue, while still cautioning that the results ought to be considered in the wider context of other contributing factors of mental health.

While some evidence was found to support hypotheses that cannabis use is a contributory factor in increasing the risk of schizophrenia, the researchers were surprised to find stronger evidence that the opposite was also likely. This adds weight to the idea that the drug may be used as a form of self-medication.

“The evidence suggested that schizophrenia risk predicts the likelihood of trying cannabis,” said Dr Suzi Gage, Research Associate with the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit. “However, the relationship could operate in both directions. Our results don’t really allow us to accurately predict the size of the effect – they’re more about providing evidence that the relationship is actually causal, rather than the result of confounding or common risk factors.”

The study used Mendelian Randomization (MR) techniques to examine publicly available data from genome-wide association studies. MR is a form of instrumental variable analysis, using genetic variants that predict either cannabis use risk, or risk of developing schizophrenia.

MR was used as an alternative to traditional observational epidemiology in an attempt to account for other variants that may affect the association, given that people who choose to use cannabis are likely to be different from those who don’t in lots of other ways.

Image shows a cannabis plant.

Dr Gage added: “Our results use a novel method to attempt to untangle the association between cannabis and schizophrenia. While we find stronger evidence that schizophrenia risk predicts cannabis use, rather than the other way round, it doesn’t rule out a causal risk of cannabis use on schizophrenia. What will be interesting is digging deeper in to the potential sub-populations of cannabis users who may be at greater risk, and getting a better handle on the impact of heavy cannabis use.

“In this study we could only look at cannabis initiation. What would really help progress this research is to use genetic variants that predict heaviness of cannabis use, as it seems that heavy cannabis use is most strongly associated with risk of schizophrenia. Once genetic variants are identified that predict heaviness of cannabis use we’ll be able to do this.”

ABOUT THIS PSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH ARTICLE

Source: Aliya Mughal – University of Bristol
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Full open access research for “Assessing causality in associations between cannabis use and schizophrenia risk: a two-sample Mendelian randomization study” by S. H. Gage, H. J. Jones, S. Burgess, J. Bowden, G. Davey Smith, S. Zammit, and M. R. Munafò in Psychological Medicine. Published online December 8 2016 doi:10.1017/S0033291716003172


Abstract

Assessing causality in associations between cannabis use and schizophrenia risk: a two-sample Mendelian randomization study

Observational associations between cannabis and schizophrenia are well documented, but ascertaining causation is more challenging. We used Mendelian randomization (MR), utilizing publicly available data as a method for ascertaining causation from observational data.

We performed bi-directional two-sample MR using summary-level genome-wide data from the International Cannabis Consortium (ICC) and the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC2). Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with cannabis initiation (p < 10−5) and schizophrenia (p < 5 × 10−8) were combined using an inverse-variance-weighted fixed-effects approach. We also used height and education genome-wide association study data, representing negative and positive control analyses.

There was some evidence consistent with a causal effect of cannabis initiation on risk of schizophrenia [odds ratio (OR) 1.04 per doubling odds of cannabis initiation, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01–1.07, p = 0.019]. There was strong evidence consistent with a causal effect of schizophrenia risk on likelihood of cannabis initiation (OR 1.10 per doubling of the odds of schizophrenia, 95% CI 1.05–1.14, p = 2.64 × 10−5). Findings were as predicted for the negative control (height: OR 1.00, 95% CI 0.99–1.01, p = 0.90) but weaker than predicted for the positive control (years in education: OR 0.99, 95% CI 0.97–1.00, p = 0.066) analyses.

Our results provide some that cannabis initiation increases the risk of schizophrenia, although the size of the causal estimate is small. We find stronger evidence that schizophrenia risk predicts cannabis initiation, possibly as genetic instruments for schizophrenia are stronger than for cannabis initiation.

“Assessing causality in associations between cannabis use and schizophrenia risk: a two-sample Mendelian randomization study” by S. H. Gage, H. J. Jones, S. Burgess, J. Bowden, G. Davey Smith, S. Zammit, and M. R. Munafò in Psychological Medicine. Published online December 8 2016 doi:10.1017/S0033291716003172

Cannabis and Addicting drugs cause genotoxicity/cancer

Cannabis and Addicting drugs cause genotoxicity/cancer

Scientists from The University of Western Australia have identified how using cannabis can alter a person’s DNA structure, causing mutations which can expose them to serious illnesses, and be passed on to their children and several future generations.

THC and addictive drugs cause abnormality in sperm structure, slow cell growth for several subsequent generation, affecting DNA methylation and non-coating protein RNA, uncoupling phosphorylation (affecting aging) and cause congenital genetic damage and mental retardation.

• Chromothripsis occurs when a chromosome becomes dislodged from the mitotic spindle, isolated in micronuclei and chaotically re-connected.

• Cannabis has been shown to disrupt tubulin dynamics and induce micronucleus formation and chromosomal mis-segregation in mitotic anaphase.

• Cannabis has been linked epidemiologically with major foetal malformations and cancer induction in children and cancers in adult populations.

• Chromothripsis and epigenetic damage from cannabis form major pathways to oncogenesis, fetotoxicity and ageing in humans and their offspring.

• Explication of mechanisms for cannabis and other addictions closes the logical loop and completes the criteria for the assignment of causality.

Chromosomal shattering

The recent demonstration that massive scale chromosomal shattering or pulverization can occur abruptly due to errors induced by interference with the microtubule machinery of the mitotic spindle followed by haphazard chromosomal annealing.

Addiction medicine/drugs such as THC

Together with sophisticated insights from epigenetics, provide profound mechanistic insights into some of the most perplexing classical observations of addiction medicine, including cancerogenesis, the younger and aggressive onset of addiction-related carcinogenesis, the heritability of addictive neurocircuitry and cancers, and foetal malformations.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other addictive agents

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other addictive agents have been shown to inhibit tubulin polymerization which perturbs the formation and function of the microtubules of the mitotic spindle.

Downstream genotoxic events including oncogene induction

This disruption of the mitotic machinery perturbs proper chromosomal segregation during anaphase and causes micronucleus formation which is the primary locus and cause of the chromosomal pulverization of chromothripsis and downstream genotoxic events including oncogene induction and tumour suppressor silencing.

Acceleration of the aging process by drugs of addiction including alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, stimulants and opioids

The complementation of multiple positive cannabis-cancer epidemiological studies, and replicated dose-response relationships with established mechanisms fulfils causal criteria. This information is also consistent with data showing acceleration of the aging process by drugs of addiction including alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, stimulants and opioids.

THC shows a non-linear sigmoidal dose-response relationship in multiple pertinent in vitro and preclinical genotoxicity assays

THC shows a non-linear sigmoidal dose-response relationship in multiple pertinent in vitro and preclinical genotoxicity assays, and in this respect is similar to the serious major human mutagen thalidomide.

Raising transgenerational transmission of teratogenicity

Rising community exposure, tissue storage of cannabinoids, and increasingly potent phytocannabinoid sources, suggests that the threshold mutagenic dose for cancerogenesis will increasingly be crossed beyond the developing world, and raise transgenerational transmission of teratogenicity as an increasing concern.

Chromosomes become derailed lacking the normal 900 enzymes required but is cut up into pieces by THC and cannabis. Causing major genetic damage and survived cells causing cancer in subsequent generation. Pediatric cancer is caused by DNA damage.

Keywords

Cannabis, Microtubules, Tubulin;, Dose-response relationship, Threshold dose, Population effects, Oncogenesis, Foetal malformations, Chromothripsis, Epigenetics, Transgenerational, Heritable,

Correspondence to: 39 Gladstone Rd., Highgate Hill, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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