Marijuana effects on serotonin and dopamine relationship

Hardcore pot smoking could damage the brain's pleasure center | Science | AAAS

marijuana effects on serotonin and dopamine relationship

For example, gestational THC exposure is associated with of time of sampling in relation to THC treatment. by up-regulation of synthesis to increase levels at 2 hours. Of particular interest to scientists is marijuana's effect on dopamine, a stimulant known to increase the amount of dopamine in the brain. New study says there is sufficient evidence that marijuana lowers dopamine levels the brain's reward system to increase negative emotions and decrease motivation. THC exposure has long-term effects on the dopamine system Marijuana use and schizophrenia: New evidence suggests link Recent.

Search Share High and low. Marijuana abusers react less strongly to dopamine in their brains, resulting in feelings of malaise and withdrawal.

Marijuana and mental illness: Low dopamine levels may play a role

But smoking a lot of marijuana over a long time might do just the opposite. Scientists have found that the brains of pot abusers react less strongly to the chemical dopamine, which is responsible for creating feelings of pleasure and reward.

marijuana effects on serotonin and dopamine relationship

Their blunted dopamine responses could leave heavy marijuana users living in a fog—and not the good kind. After high-profile legalizations in Colorado, Washington, and Uruguaymarijuana is becoming more and more available in many parts of the world.

Still, scientific research on the drug has lagged. Its illicit status in most of the world has also thrown up barriers to research.

Marijuana and mental illness: Low dopamine levels may play a role

In the United States, for example, any study involving marijuana requires approval from four different federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration. Politics also plays a role in marijuana research.

marijuana effects on serotonin and dopamine relationship

A study on rats by the author French discovered that THC — the psychoactive compound of cannabis — stimulated dopamine neurons in the midbrain. It took almost 20 years for a study to show the same effects on humans, but the recent study by Bassong et al.

marijuana effects on serotonin and dopamine relationship

French also conducted a similar study using CBD instead of THC, and found that there was no evidence of cannabidiol increasing the dopamine in reward pathways. In simple terms, the effect of THC on dopamine explains why you feel so good during and after a smoke. Overall, the new research suggests that marijuana users might want to cut down on use, or risk long-term dopamine damage.

While the strongest body of evidence has come recently, there have been studies on the effects of long-term marijuana use on dopamine for decades. A study by Jentscha et al.

This area of the brain is associated with complicated tasks such as memory, planning, and decision-making.

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It was a study led by Professor Oliver Howes, however, that dropped the dopamine bombshell. While other prior studies had found links between heavy long-term cannabis use and anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, researchers were unable to pinpoint the causes of these associations.

marijuana effects on serotonin and dopamine relationship

Howe and his team believed they found the answer when they reviewed a host of previous studies on how THC affects the brain. The authors of the study concluded the review by suggesting: Howes was also critical of animal studies, saying they are far too short to offer any real insight.

marijuana effects on serotonin and dopamine relationship

The team was also concerned at the existing gaps in marijuana research, particularly in regard to a lack of studies on what happens to our dopamine system once we stop using marijuana.

Final Thoughts on Marijuana and Dopamine While it is important not to panic when hearing about the latest research into the link between marijuana and long-term dopamine reduction, it should provide weed smokers with plenty of food for thought.

We always advocate smoking responsibly, and this review of a long list of studies should only serve to strengthen our warning.