ECS Role in Depression & Pain

Updated: May 7

It is estimated that major depressive disorder affects nearly 20 million Americans (including two million children between the ages of three and 17). In addition, 50 million Americans (nearly 20 percent of the population) suffer from chronic pain. A wide collection of research studies has revealed the intimate role played by the ECS with respect to these common physical and psychological diseases.

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Depression + Cannabis

A 2018 study entitled "Exploiting the Multifaceted Effects of Cannabinoids on Mood to Boost Their Therapeutic Use Against Anxiety and Depression" investigated the role of anandamide and 2-AG in regulating mood, including depression and anxiety. “A number of emotions and behaviors, such as fear, anxiety, [and] depression...are critically modulated by the ECS,” reported the study’s authors.


"In patients with major depression, reduced circulating levels of both 2-AG and AEA [anandamide] have been [observed]."

The researchers found a connection between the levels of endocannabinoids such as 2-AG and depression. "In patients with major depression, reduced circulating levels of both 2-AG and AEA [anandamide] have been [observed]." The study concluded, "Emotional homeostasis is crucially modulated by the activity of the ECS."


A 2016 study entitled "Endocannabinoid System: Role in Depression, Reward, and Pain Control" investigated the mechanism by which the ECS may modify common mood disorders and physical conditions, including depression and pain. The study observed that "the most common debilitating disorders affecting society at large are pain and depression, which are the most prevalent...neurological and psychiatric disorders."

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Pain + Cannabis

A 2013 study entitled "The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain" found that cannabinoids and terpenes may be therapeutically effective in pain management. Reported the study, "The endocannabinoid system is involved in a host of homeostatic and physiologic functions, including modulation of pain and inflammation."


The research found that CBD and a terpene, beta-caryophyllene (BCP) may, in some cases, be effective agents for the treatment of pain.

The research found that CBD and a terpene, beta-caryophyllene (BCP) may, in some cases, be effective agents for the treatment of pain. Reported the study, "phytocannabinoids, especially cannabidiol [CBD] and [the terpene] β-caryophyllene, delivered by the oral route appear to be promising candidates for the treatment of chronic pain due to their high safety and low adverse effects."


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