How Does Cannabis Impact Your Social Behavior

How Does Cannabis Impact Your Social Behavior

Some people wonder how smoking marijuana affects their social behavior. They wonder if there are any changes. Indeed, maybe it does not matter if we are smoking or not, we are still the same. So let us look for recent studies that can help us understand whether there is any impact on your mood and social interaction, and if there is, is it positive or negative.

Love hormone

Love hormone

A UCI study that was conducted this October shows that a hormone called oxytocin is to blame for us feeling pleasure from any kind of social interaction, for all the pleasant touches we like, for our feeling of bliss and emotion of love, for how good we feel when we are cuddling or hugging someone. This is why oxytocin is also known as the “love hormone.”

This hormone is produced by our brain, by the hypothalamus to be precise, and goes to the central nervous system. It is genetically encoded that oxytocin helps humans (and other mammals) with their sexual reproduction, the urge for intimacy, childbirth, and social interactions.

It is interesting that, according to a study published three years ago in Singapore, people with high level of oxytocin in their blood are more likely to be trusting as well as trustworthy than people whose level of this hormone is normal or lower than normal.

Your endocannabinoid system

Your endocannabinoid system

Enhanced social interactions and social bonding are some of the experiences often described as a part of “marijuana effect.” This made scientists think about the potential link between oxytocin and the endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system is a special group of receptors that takes part in several processes such as memory, mood, pain-sensation, appetite, and is also responsible for psychoactive effects of marijuana. An essential fatty acid called anandamide plays an important role in the working of the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids take part in a wide variety of physiological processes such as body temperature regulation, muscle control, sleep, appetite, intraocular pressure, mood, metabolism, energy balance, pain/sensation, stress responses, and reward/motivation.

So, we have the “love hormone”, natural endocannabinoids and cannabis-produced CBD and THC. Is there any connection between all three?

Sociability/endocannabinoids relationship

Sociability/endocannabinoids relationship

As the UCI study shows, there is indeed a direct link between “love/trust hormone” oxytocin and “bliss/delight” signals produced by the endocannabinoid system.

The study was conducted on mice. First, the researchers measured levels of anandamide in the animal’s brains; then they either let the mice engage in usual social interaction or put them in isolation. When mice were interacting with each other, rodents’ anandamide level was increased significantly, particularly in the brain parts that are responsible for reward, motivation, and pleasure. When the animals received cannabis, their anandamide level was even higher, and so was the pleasure of socialization.

At the same time, when the cannabinoid receptors were blocked during the study, mice showed no interest in social interaction and got no rewards of socialization. This way the researchers found out the importance of both endocannabinoid system and anandamide it produces for social skills and behavior.

Social bonding/oxytocin relationship

Social bonding/oxytocin relationship

The second part of the UCI study showed the link between pleasure from socialization and the level of oxytocin in the blood. When oxytocin receptors were stimulated, it made the mice more social. More than this, “love hormone” increased the production and mobilization of anandamide.

And just like with anandamide, blocking oxytocin receptors caused social interactions to cease being pleasurable, and mice showed no more interest in further communications. And what is more interesting, when it comes to social reward and pleasure, anandamide and oxytocin can offset the lack of each other.

So, what does it all mean? The link between the endocannabinoid system and anandamide (that can be produced naturally or as a result of taking cannabis) and “love hormone” oxytocin exists;  it is the key to improving social behavior. It means that marijuana can not only make your social life better, it also has a great therapeutic potential, helping people who suffer from pervasive development, anxiety disorders, social dysfunction, and autism disorders.

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