Cannabidiol can weaken aggression caused by social isolation, a study has found, adding another positive factor to the growing adoption of marijuana for medical purposes.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive compound derived from the marijuana plants an can cause relaxation, mellowing, and even respite from certain types of pain without causing dependency. However, it is not to be confused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound notorious for causing “the munchies."

Derived from the same plant as CBD, THC is a psychoactive compound responsible for the euphoric feeling associated with smoking pot due to its strong binding with receptors in the brain. Both are chemical compounds of the marijuana plant but produce different mental and physical effects. In fact, some effects of THC are inhibited by cannabidiol.

CBD reduces aggression by activating serotonin and endocannabinoid receptors. Serotonin is popular for giving us feelings of wellbeing and happiness amid the other complex biological functions. About 90 percent of the human body's total serotonin is found in the gut where it manages intestinal functions while the other 10 percent is made in the central nervous system

Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters produced throughout the central nervous system, including the brain and contribute to appetite, pain-sensation, mood and memory.

The study was published by scientists at the University of São Paolo’s Ribeirão Preto Medical School (FMRP-USP). Francisco Silveira Guimarães, Full Professor at FMRP-USP and leader of the study, explained that isolation-induced aggression is a classical behaviour model adopted in experiments.

The experiment employed a model known as the resident-intruder test, which evokes aggressiveness in an animal isolated for several days. To investigate whether CBD could affect the resident’s aggression, four groups of mice were given varying doses of CBD while a fifth acted as a control and was not given the compound.

The results saw a decrease in aggression with the increase in dosage. This effect, however, started to regress after a certain peak dosage, resulting in increased aggression. This trend followed a bell curve.

Cannabidiol: a major compound found in all cannabis plants.

"This reduction in the effect of cannabidiol at higher doses was expected from the results of other studies. In experiments to investigate its potential as an antidepressant, for example, higher doses led to lower effects after an initial gain ,” Guimarães said. Had the scientists continued to increase the dosage, they might not have seen any inhibition in the resident’s aggression at all.

This data may prove useful in the development of new drugs and treatments.