Studies Reveal Possible Ways to Tap Into Therapeutic Benefits of Marijuana
Chronic pain affects nearly 50 million American adults and sometimes leads to prescription opioid abuse; opioid abuse led to 19,000 deaths in 2014. Post-traumatic stress disorder, which affects up to 30 percent of war veterans, and alcohol abuse, which results in 2.5 million deaths each year worldwide, also lack promising and safe treatments. Marijuana can help with chronic pain and symptoms associated with PTSD, but it has its own risk of abuse and side effects.
Today’s new findings show that:
- A compound that increases the effects of endocannabinoids — neurotransmitters that bind the same receptor as THC, the active ingredient in marijuana — decreases pain symptoms in mice, suggesting a novel way to target pain with few side effects (Andrea Hohmann, abstract 617.07, see attached summary).
- A drug that boosts the activity of a cannabinoid receptor lessens anxiety and inflammation in mice exposed to repeated stress, hinting at a possible new treatment option for post-traumatic stress disorder (Sabrina Lisboa, abstract 112.08, see attached summary).
- A novel therapeutic compound that increases levels of an endocannabinoid in the brain alleviates chronic pain symptoms in rats, providing hope for a way to reduce reliance on opioids (Jason Clapper, abstract 617.02, see attached summary).
Other recent findings discussed show that:
- Cannabidiol, a compound found in marijuana, decreases alcohol consumption in mice, suggesting a possible new treatment for alcohol abuse disorders (Maria García-Gutiérrez, presentation 77.01, see attached speaker summary).
The research was supported by national funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, as well as other public, private, and philanthropic organizations worldwide. Find out more about the brain’s cannabinoid system at BrainFacts.org.