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Study Shows Link Between ECS & Depression

Is the endocannabinoid system (ECS) linked to depression and gut health? A recent study suggests that this is the case. Read our latest article for more important and valuable info!

Jason SanderJason Sander · May 14, 2021 · 4 min read
Study Shows Link Between ECS & Depression

An interesting recent study shows evidence for what many cannabis enthusiasts have already known - that the endocannabinoid system is intrinsically linked to our mental health. What is the link, and how much of an impact does it have? Keep reading for more.

It’s no secret by now - cannabinoids impact our mental health. For better or worse, there is undeniable evidence that cannabis consumption will affect your emotions. Fortunately, that impact is mostly a positive one for the majority of consumers. From helping with depression, anxiety, bipolar, OCD, insomnia, and many other mental health issues, cannabis is beneficial for so many of us.

This is mostly related to the fact that cannabis has an intrinsic impact on our endocannabinoid system, also called the ECS. The ECS is one of the most complex systems in the human body. The ECS is responsible for regulating processes like mood and appetite, circadian rhythms that help you keep your sleep schedule, your memory, reproductive system, fertility, and so on. The ECS also has a significant impact on our mood and our mental health. For more in-depth information on the endocannabinoid system and the impact cannabis has on our mental health, check out our guides on the matter.

New Study Links the ECS and Depression

The study shows a link between the ECS, depression, chronic stress, and gut bacteria. Conducted by a team of French researchers, the study shines some light on the idea that imbalances in the gut are more closely linked to depression than that of the brain. Published in the journal Nature Communications, the study suggests that imbalances in the gut can lead to a disruption in the body’s ECS, which can cause many other issues.

As previously mentioned, it’s well-documented that the ECS is an interconnected network of cannabinoid receptors that are found throughout the body. These receptors are responsible for regulating many different bodily functions, including emotions and the immune system. This latest study suggests that deficiencies in the ECS can lead to many conditions, including fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, and mood disorders.

The ECS and Depression - the Details

In the recent study published in Nature Communications, the researchers observed the gut bacteria in healthy mice and those that exhibited signs of depression. Yes, even lab mice can exhibit signs of depression when exposed to what’s called unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS). Those who suffer from UCMS show signs of depressive behaviors like an increase in anxiety and a decrease in appetite.

The mice showing signs of depression had a difference in the concentrations of their gut bacteria than their non-depressed counterparts, as was expected by the study authors. The researchers transferred gut microbiota from the depressed mice to the healthy ones, and the healthy ones started showing depressive symptoms almost immediately. "Surprisingly, simply transferring the microbiota from an animal with mood disorders to an animal in good health was enough to bring about biochemical changes and confer depressive-like behaviors in the latter,” an author of the study said to New Atlas.

"Surprisingly, simply transferring the microbiota from an animal with mood disorders to an animal in good health was enough to bring about biochemical changes and confer depressive-like behaviors in the latter,” the author of the study said.

Ultimately, the researchers stated that they see a link between chronic stress and changes in the microbiome of the guts of mammals. As a result, this can end up in a reduction of endocannabinoids. With reduced endocannabinoids, can cause a lack of normal activity in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the area in our brains that helps to regulate mood, emotions, and memory. "This might be the pathway, at least in part, that links microbiota dysbiosis to mood disorders, which in turn, may affect the composition of the gut microbiota through physiological adjustments and modulation of the immune system,” the study explains.

Cannabis Improves Mood

As they were concluding the study, the researchers found that they could utilize specific bacteria to increase endocannabinoid levels and reduce symptoms of depression. The study authors conclude that cannabis will “improve mood in humans.” The study explains that cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant will naturally bond to the receptors in our ECS. While cannabinoids found in natural cannabis products are only briefly mentioned in this study, it does give us further proof that our ECS plays some kind of role in our mood - and that mood disorders can possibly be treated with cannabis medicine.


As research progresses, we could eventually arrive at natural treatments for depression and other mental health issues. Naturally, these treatments will be linked back to balancing the body’s ECS to help reduce symptoms of depression and that of other mood disorders.

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Thanks for reading! Please consume responsibly.

Jason Sander
Jason SanderJason is a versatile writer and marketer with over ten combined years of experience working with clients in various industries. He couples this expertise with six years of writing for the cannabis sector as well as a passion for the business side, and the science behind the plant medicine.




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