Wild Songbirds Clarify Cannabis’ Effects

Dopamine receptors can be quantified using PET scans. For cannabis researchers this is tremendous news. A pair of studies demonstrate how stressful environments decrease the dopamine receptors of songbirds, while the other clarifies marijuana’s effects on dopamine release, PTSD and depression:

19-JUL-2019 – Louisiana State University Department of Biological Sciences Assistant Professor Christine Lattin, and colleagues conducted this study of wild songbirds showing that dopamine is important in responding to chronic stressors, which can help wildlife conservation efforts in response to environmental stressors such as habitat destruction, natural disasters, extreme weather events and increases in predation. […]

They found that one type of dopamine receptor decreased over time during captivity, which suggests that birds became less resilient to stress over time. The greater the decrease in dopamine receptors, the more they exhibited anxiety-related behaviors such as feather ruffling. All of the wild birds also decreased body mass.

“These physiological, neurobiological and behavioral changes suggest that songbirds are not able to habituate to captivity, at least over short periods of time. It is very important that scientists studying stress in wildlife find more ways to study them in their natural habitat,” Lattin said. […]

In a previous study, marijuana’s endocannabinoids were shown to affect the firing of dopamine neurons. University of Maryland School of Medicine scientists revealed the process:

…dopamine causally drives animals to avoid unpleasant or painful situations and stimuli. The results greatly expand the role that dopamine plays in driving behavior.

The researchers also examined the role that endocannabinoids play in this process. Endocannabinoids, brain chemicals that resemble the active ingredients in marijuana, play key roles in many brain processes. Here, Dr. Joseph F. Cheer and his colleagues found that endocannabinoids essentially open the gate that allows the dopamine neurons to fire. When the researchers reduced the level of endocannabinoids, the animals were much less likely to move to avoid shocks.

In both depression and PTSD, doctors already sometimes treat patients with medicine to increase dopamine and there are now clinical trials testing use of endocannabinoid drugs to treat these conditions. Dr. Cheer suggests that this approach may need to be used more often and should certainly be studied in more detail.

Dr. Cheer argues that the research sheds light on brain disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. In depression, patients feel unable to avoid a sense of helplessness in the face of problems, and tend to ruminate rather than act to improve their situation. In PTSD, patients are unable to avoid an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety in the face of seemingly low-stress situations. Both disorders, he says, may involve abnormally low levels of dopamine, and may be seen on some level as a failure of the avoidance system. […]

About 34% of medicinal cannabis use is directed at treating depression. For many patients marijuana reduces the anxiety and emotional pain that form links in the chain to their illnesses. The current findings raise another possibility, and not just for house sparrows (Passer domesticus). Cannabis may be the treatment of choice for people arrested and confined in cages for consuming marijuana or any other illicit drug.

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One Response to Wild Songbirds Clarify Cannabis’ Effects

  1. Mouthy says:

    Caged birds have a reduced choice in foods and raw water, which is loaded down with plant matter, thus a reduced amount of seeds and nectar with phytocannabaninoids in them.

    We now know why the caged bird still sings. What does this do to the large populations of black Americans who were not arrested, but forced to carve a large slice of their lives out to make room for the hood and family who were caged up–all because drugs were illegal, sending them to jail for possession, distribution, intent, and the much increase in crime due to a wave of constant Drug Money and the gangs it fuels and nurtures. If the black community didn’t have a large part of it missing inside America’s jails and prison’s, plus those who have been altered by incarceration and then sent back home . . . add that to the culture of crime that had to adapt just from the influx of new vices . . . crimes in which no victim was required, let alone harmed, offering the streets a brand new kind of criminal to buy and use the illegal drugs and making new ones to sell and distribute it, all while the system rakes them in and adding to that meaty chunk the government first spooned out of the community and lives in the name of some irrational laws . . . leaving a mix and match–a blend of toxic, lethal, and poverty ridden non-traditional herbs and spices inside the African American community. First the government and police do their thing by arbitrarily and hypocritically outlawing the drugs, then the overall culture of illicit drug using, buying, and selling, adds its influence to the African American community, most notably seen in music, slang, and fashion, plus the plots of movies/TV with big stars e.g. Miami Vice, Friday, Belly, etc.

    And for Rome’s entertainment, we’ve got Black athletes, scholars, actresses, models, singers, painters, investors, etc who now had to crawl out of–escape a grimmer, nastier, more depraved, heartless, opportunity-voided, violent and cut throat beginnings and dead ends, just to get to Stardom and Americans love a hard journey to success story. And its even the same thing just to get to the Middle Class American Dream, but with much less fanfare and riches.

    Like caged birds–their quality of life waning and waxing due to our studies, the same goes for African Americans who have been forced into cages made out of varying materials, like laws,location, housing, healthcare, schools, jobs, steel bars, etc. They have been deprived of a natural life in many instances.

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