February 6, 2016

New Human Research on CBD, Endocannabinoids and Depression

ICRS logo

8/8/2011 – The International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) meeting  in Chicago last month showcased new data on cannabinoids gathered from human subjects. Most bio-medical science happens on rats or in petri dishes, so any studies on people are always notable. The ICRS is a unique and concentrated pool of cannabinoid scientists presenting the latest breakthroughs at our annual meetings.

The second day of the 2011 ICRS meeting had a Psychiatric Session that included these interesting topics:

Danieal Hauer, Ludwig-Maimilians University (Germany) discussed results from human subject who had undergone cardiac surgery.  23.5% percent of patients were thought to have diagnosable symptoms of depression after 6 months post-surgery.  This population of depressed patients had lower blood levels of Anandamide, an endocannabinoid. The doctors suggest that patients with lower endocannabinoid levels during the peri-opertaive stage are at a higher risk of developing depression.

Mateus Bergamaschi, University Sao Paulo Brazil, showed results from a human study on the effects of pure CBD to treat people with social phobia.  Participants were all healthy college undergraduates. They divided into different groups and were given 2 minutes to prepare a 4 minute oral presentation on “the public transportation system of your city.” The participants who received an oral of CBD had lower anxiety scores than the placebo group. The researchers conclude that this is another study which demonstrates the anti-anxiety effects of CBD and additional double blind, placebo controlled studies are needed.

Andrea Dlugos (University of Muenster, University of Chicago) presented the first data on human subjects which indicates that stress can increase the levels of many endocannabinoids. Acute stress increases N-Acylethanolamines, i.e., AEA, in healthy humans. Basla serum levels of AG and AEA were found to be lower in depressed women. Functional FAAH gene variants influence response to acute stress. eCB increases are correlated to circulating levels of stress indicators.  Stress increases AEA, PEA, OEA but not 2AG, 2OG. Psychosocial specific stress increases some levels. Interestingly, Caucasians show an increase in certain cannabinoids that was not seen in African Americans and Asians.  The authors note that cortisol and PEA share a common mechanism that warrants further study.

These three sets of research could have beneficial applications if they are developed. Testing the endocannabinoid levels to help identify those at risk for depression after heart surgery would be a simple way of averting this negative outcome. It is also exciting to see pure CBD used in a psychological experiment with humans demonstrating a promising treatment from an easily acquired extract.

The ICRS meeting was jam packed with amazing new science. We’ll have more from the presentations in future posts.

Read more Science at Freedomisgreen.com

Jahan Marcu is currently investigating the pharmacology of cannabinoid receptors. He was working at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute when exciting discoveries were made showing enhanced anti-cancer effects with THC and CBD from the Cannabis plant. The findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. In 2009 he received the Billy Martin Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS). Jahan is currently the vice-chair the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board at Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Questions?   Contact    science@freedomisgreen.com

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent any University, business or affiliates. While the information provided in this blog is from published scientific studies it is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.




  1. Suffering with social anxiety is no fun at all. I’m excited to hear more about the CBD studies.


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