The Feel Good Gene (New York Times)
This is a very informative and objective article from the New York Times on the body’s internal marijuana production system or, the Endocannabinoid System. Essentially, all humans produce anandamide, the molecule similar to THC, that calms nerve cells and feelings of anxiety in the brain. Some people, who produce more anandamide than average due to a genetic mutation, are less likely to seek out cannabis. But many people don’t have the mutation. They produce fewer internal cannabinoids that would help calm the brain, and are therefore more susceptible to anxiety and seek the calming effects of exogenous- or external- cannabinoids from the plant.
As a medical marijuana consultant I strongly believe that use of cannabis provides a lower net-harm than opioids and other medications in controlling pain and acute, chronic symptoms. Cannabis has been shown to reduce opiate withdrawal, and can decrease the amount of opiates needed to reduce pain. But chronic cannabis use can overwhelm the brain’s natural anandamide production. Being overly calm and anxiety-free is great for those who need it to survive, but like any health modality, cannabis should be used in conjunction with nutrition, meditation, talk therapy, and other anxiety reducing treatments in order to bring whole health and higher consciousness to the patient.