Cannabis and Autism: Can Cannabis Reverse Advanced Social Impairment?

In the past, we’ve discussed the wonderfully complex relationship between cannabis and various neurological disorders. As more and more research comes to light, it’s become alarmingly clear that the endocannabinoid system that regulates the human body’s response to cannabis is also inextricably involved in healthy brain functioning. Whether they’re keeping the brain’s immune system from attacking healthy cells or simply altering brain wave patterns, cannabinoid receptors are involved in the day to day of neuronal “management”. In the state of California, one of the approved reasons a doctor can prescribe a medical cannabis recommendation is for “social anxiety”. This term is somewhat purposefully vague and seems to cover a lot of conditions. However, the impetus behind the inclusion is real: many cannabis patients specifically consume cannabis to combat anxiety about social situations that can be otherwise absolutely crippling. Something about consuming cannabis gives them the relaxation or edge to feel comfortable enough in social settings to function properly. Of course, it might be easy to chalk this up as an effect of absolutely any social drug; one could say the same about alcohol. However, there is an important differentiation here, being that cannabis, unlike alcohol, is not generally an inhibition lowering substance. Drunk drivers tend to drive too fast. Stoned drivers tend to observe the speed limit or drive too slowly. Regardless, without much legitimate research on the topic, we’ve been curious about this association between cannabis and social functioning. Thankfully, researchers from UC Irvine have released a new study…

CBD As A Motivator

In cannabis culture, THC tends to steal the limelight. Many breeders select for strains with higher percentages of THC, due to its psychoactive effect. However, as far as therapeutic applications go, CBD (cannabidiol) seems to be the real leader, calming both joint inflammation and spasticity in epileptic patients. The idea that CBD could also be an anti-depressant or motivator has been mostly overlooked, largely due to the fact that unlike THC, CBD is not as apparently psychoactive. As more evidence comes to light, we are realizing that CBD may in fact have substantial anti-depressive properties while at the same time operating without the risks and negative side effects of current pharmaceutical options. Sensing potential here, researchers at the Geha Mental Health Center in Israel set out to increase findings on the potential of CBD as a behavioral motivator. To do this, they began by selecting Wistar-Kyoto mice as research subjects. While we normally don’t go into different types of research mice on the Cornerstone blog, in this case, some background is necessary. Wistar-Kyoto mice have genetics that produce behaviors that duplicate many of the classic symptoms of depression found in humans. For instance, these mice are hyper-reactive to stress. Additionally these mice illustrate increased immobility, greater anxiety, and greater amounts of passive coping (such as burying themselves as a defense). This makes these mice a great model of depression and for a research team looking to test potential anti-depressants, a great answer. To begin, researchers measured individual baseline levels of…

Can Cannabinoids Prevent Brain-Wasting Caused by HIV?

HIV has had perhaps the greatest impact of any single disease on the U.S. in recent times, both culturally and medically. Unlike most other viruses, HIV is a retrovirus, meaning rather than producing RNA in cells to then produce the protein needed to build more copies, it sneaks itself directly into cell’s original DNA. This type of virus is hard to detect until the person is already infected, at which point, the infection will continue indefinitely. HIV targets the immune system by duplicating inside of cells that attack disease. Left untreated, the immune system then begins to fail, with enough time becoming unable to defend the body from even minor disease. This condition is known as AIDS and caught medicine by surprise in the 80s, proving to be one of the most dangerous and difficult to treat diseases. Fortunately, we now have medications that prevent the HIV infection from spreading, which greatly decreases the likelihood of developing AIDS and means that people with HIV in countries with developed medicine continue to lead long, full lives with mostly minor symptoms. Despite retroviral therapy, one serious symptom, HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND), occurs in 30-50% of patients. In this disorder, patients begin to display a decrease in brain functionality, with decreases in operational memory, emotional response, and executive function. In most cases, the effect is mild, although in some cases, this can progress to HIV-induced dementia, rendering the patient unable to take care of his/herself and requiring daily living assistance. The cause of…