The basolateral amygdala is reported to play an important role in the neural bases of emotional processing… Based on these findings, we propose that urocortin and endocannabinoid signaling are part of an integrated neural axis modulating anxiety states within the basolateral amygdala. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled ‘Anxiety and Depression’.”
“Depression is a major health problem currently recognized as a leading cause of morbidity worldwide. In the United States alone, depression affects approximately 20% of the population. With current medications suffering from major shortcomings that include slow onset of action, poor efficacy, and unwanted side effects, the search for new and improved antidepressants is ever increasing. In an effort to evade side effects, people have been resorting to popular traditional herbal medicines to relieve the symptoms of depression, and there is a need for more empirical knowledge about their use and effectiveness. This review provides an overview of the current knowledge state regarding a variety of natural plant products commonly used in depression. Herbal medicines discussed that have been used in clinical trials for the treatment of mild to moderate depression states include the popular St. John’s wort, saffron, Rhodiola, lavender, Echium, and the Chinese formula banxia houpu. In addition, new emerging herbal products that have been studied in different animal models are discussed including Polygala tenuifolia, the traditional Chinese herbal SYJN formula, gan mai da zao, and Cannabis sativa constituents. A comprehensive review of the chemical, pharmacological, and clinical aspects of each of the reviewed products is provided. Finally, recent preclinical studies reporting the antidepressant action of marine-derived natural products are discussed at the end of the review.”
“The present review synthetically describes the currently advanced hypotheses for a neurobiological basis of depression, ranging from the classical monoaminergic to the more recent neurotrophic hypothesis. Moreover, the Authors review the available preclinical and clinical evidence suggesting a possible role for the endocannabinoid system in the physiopathology of depression. Indeed, in spite of the reporting of conflicting results, the pharmacological enhancement of endocannabinoid activity at the CB1 cannabinoid receptor level appears to exert an antidepressant-like effect in some animal models of depression. On the contrary, a reduced activity of the endogenous cannabinoid system seems to be associated with the animal model of depression, namely the chronic mild stress model. Moreover, a few studies have reported an interaction of antidepressants with the endocannabinoid system. “
“The endocannabinoid system”
“A detailed description of the endocannabinoid system is beyond the scope of this paper. Thus, in this section we briefly describe those components of the endocannabinoid system that act as targets for the pharmacological interventions aimed at determining the activity of the endocannabinoid system.”
“The term “endocannabinoid system” refers to the recently discovered neuromodulator system comprising cannabinoid receptors (which represent the receptors of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major active component of cannabis) and their endogenous ligands.”
“To date, two types of cannabinoid receptors have been identified: CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors belong to the superfamily of G protein coupled receptors, the CB1 receptor is widely distributed in the terminals of neurons, while the CB2 receptor is extensively expressed throughout the immune system. However, it has recently been reported that these receptors are present also in the brain.”
“No clinical trials carried out using cannabinoids in the treatment of affective disorders have been published to date, although anecdotal reports have described both antidepressant and antimanic properties of cannabis.”
“Indeed, pharmacological manipulations of the endocannabinoid system have elicited antidepressant-like effects in animal models of depression. Moreover, some animal models of depression seem to be associated to alterations in the endocannabinod system.”
“Although no clinical trials performed using cannabinoids in the treatment of affective disorders have been published to date, anecdotal reports have described both antidepressant and antimanic properties of cannabis”
“With advances in basic and clinical neuroscience, many gaps have appeared in the traditional monoamine theory of depression that have led to reformulation of the hypotheses concerning the neurobiology of depression. The more recent hypotheses suggest that melancholic depression is characterized by central glucocorticoid resistance that results in hypercortisolemia, which in turn leads to down-regulation of neurotrophins and subsequent neurodegeneration. Examining the neurobiology of depression from this perspective suggests that the endocannabinoid system may play a role in the etiology of melancholic depression. Specifically, pharmacological and genetic blockade of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor induces a phenotypic state that is analogous to melancholic depression, including symptoms such as reduced food intake, heightened anxiety, increased arousal and wakefulness, deficits in extinction of aversive memories and supersensitivity to stress. These similarities between melancholic depression and an endocannabinoid deficiency become more interesting in light of recent findings that endocannabinoid activity is down-regulated by chronic stress and possibly increased by some antidepressant regimens. We propose that an endocannabinoid deficiency may underlie some of the symptoms of melancholic depression, and that enhancement of this system may ultimately be a novel form of pharmacotherapy for treatment-resistant depression.”
“Depression is one of the most prevalent forms of neuropsychiatric disorder and is a major cause of suicide worldwide. The prefrontal cortex is a crucial brain region that is thought to be involved in the regulation of mood, aggression and/or impulsivity and decision making, which are altered in suicidality.
Evidence of the role of the endocannabinoid (EC) system in the neurobiology of neuropsychiatric disorders is beginning to emerge. The behavioral effects of ECs are believed to be mediated through the central cannabinoid CB1 receptor. Alterations in the levels of ECs, and in the density and coupling efficacy of CB1 receptors, have been reported in the prefrontal cortex of depressed and alcoholic suicide victims.
These findings support our hypothesis that altered EC function contributes to the pathophysiological aspects of suicidal behavior. Here, we provide a brief overview of the role of the EC system in alcoholism, depression and suicide, and discuss possible therapeutic interventions and directions for future research.”
“Human tissues express cannabinoid CB(1) and CB(2) receptors that can be activated by endogenously released ‘endocannabinoids’ or exogenously administered compounds in a manner that reduces the symptoms or opposes the underlying causes of several disorders in need of effective therapy. Three medicines that activate cannabinoid CB(1)/CB(2) receptors are now in the clinic: Cesamet (nabilone), Marinol (dronabinol; Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ(9)-THC)) and Sativex (Δ(9)-THC with cannabidiol). These can be prescribed for the amelioration of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (Cesamet and Marinol), stimulation of appetite (Marinol) and symptomatic relief of cancer pain and/or management of neuropathic pain and spasticity in adults with multiple sclerosis (Sativex). This review mentions several possible additional therapeutic targets for cannabinoid receptor agonists. These include other kinds of pain, epilepsy, anxiety, depression, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke, cancer, drug dependence, glaucoma, autoimmune uveitis, osteoporosis, sepsis, and hepatic, renal, intestinal and cardiovascular disorders. It also describes potential strategies for improving the efficacy and/or benefit-to-risk ratio of these agonists in the clinic. These are strategies that involve (i) targeting cannabinoid receptors located outside the blood-brain barrier, (ii) targeting cannabinoid receptors expressed by a particular tissue, (iii) targeting upregulated cannabinoid receptors, (iv) selectively targeting cannabinoid CB(2) receptors, and/or (v) adjunctive ‘multi-targeting’.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23108552