Next time you want to feel close to someone, make sure you have a joint handy, because smoking weed may actually be the secret to a healthy relationship.
Some interesting research has come out of the University of California that reveals there’s a link between oxytocin, the chemical produced in the brain when in close contact with a loved one, and marijuana’s effect on human behavior, specifically the behavior that impacts human bonding.
IFLScience reports that oxytocin could make social interactions more pleasurable by stimulating humans’ own, built-in cannabinoid system. The research indicates that oxytocin is able to do this by triggering the release of anandamide, the so-called bliss molecule. (Anandamide can cause increased motivation and happiness.)
So, how did scientists find this information out? It took a lot of work…
First, the university’s researchers worked on what they already knew… Endocannabinoids, similar to anandamide, are molecules that human bodies already produce. These molecules work on a human’s system the same way cannabis does — it binds “to receptors on various cells throughout the body called cannabinoid receptors,” IFLScience reports. “Previous work has found that the endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating neuronal signaling from the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a brain region shown to be critical for the effects of oxytocin on social reward.”
To examine these links further, scientists from the university examined “the brains of juvenile mice reared in groups that had been isolated from their peers for 24 hours, then either returned to the group or kept [them] in isolation for a three [additional] hours.” Researchers discovered “that social contact increased the release of anandamide in the NAc, whereas isolation had the opposite effect. The resulting cannabinoid receptor activation, they found, reinforced the rewards of social interaction.”
While we can agree that this newly discovered link is interesting, it’s also an incredibly important finding.
According to IFLScience, this information could help researchers, doctors, etc., understand “the mechanisms” that cause certain social impairments, such as autism. Daniele Piomelli, the lead researcher of the study, told IFLScience that all of the researchers of the study think that “there is a disruption in cooperative oxytocin-anandamide signaling in autism.” So, increasing anandamide levels could help correct “social remade deficits.”
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Smoking a joint image via Shutterstock