Endocrine Effects of Marijuana


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Abstract

In the 35 years since the active compound of marijuana, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, was isolated, the psychological and physiological impact of marijuana use has been actively investigated. Animal models have demonstrated that cannabinoid administration acutely alters multiple hormonal systems, including the suppression of the gonadal steroids, growth hormone, prolactin, and thyroid hormone and the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. These effects are mediated by binding to the endogenous cannabinoid receptor in or near the hypothalamus. Despite these findings in animals, the effects in humans have been inconsistent, and discrepancies are likely due in part to the development of tolerance. Thelong-term consequences of marijuana use in humans on endocrine systems remain unclear.

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