Authors: Sharon Salt, Editor
Matthew Hill is an Associate Professor at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary (Canada). His research primarily focuses on trying to understand the endocannabinoid system and how it regulates emotions and stress circuits in the brain to modulate anxiety and stress-related psychiatric disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
In this interview, Matthew speaks to us about his talk on endocannabinoids as a mechanism of comorbidity between inflammatory disease and anxiety, including what the next steps of his research will be. He also discusses if the controversial elements behind term ‘cannabinoid’ provide any limitations to research.
You’re presenting a talk here at FENS (7–11 July, Berlin, Germany) on endocannabinoids as a mechanism of comorbidity between inflammatory disease and anxiety – can you tell us more about this?
We have done a lot of work looking into how endocannabinoids are involved in the effects of stress on anxiety. It’s interesting because when you look at populations of people who use marijuana for medical benefit, or things that they believe help them, we’d always look into post-traumatic stress disorder as a potential. However, one of the other disease classes that you see quite regularly with individuals who self-medicate with cannabis are inflammatory diseases like irritable bowel syndrome or colitis, arthritis or even multiple sclerosis. We became intrigued by the fact that these inflammatory diseases are quite often comorbid with psychiatric issues including anxiety and depression.