According to a team of researchers that looked at previous studies on medical marijuana and its properties, a compound within cannabis could help heroin addicts to resist the urge of using the drug while alleviating withdrawal symptoms at the same time. However, the latest survey notes that information on these compounds, also known as cannabinoids, is scarce because of certain regulations that prevent human trials.
Opioids are highly addictive substances made of opium poppy or synthetic versions of it and include morphine, hydrocodone, heroin, and oxycodone. According to the study’s author, the lack of research in the field is worrying, especially with the ongoing opioid epidemic the nation currently faces.
Yasmin Hurd, the study’s author and a professor of neuroscience at the Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York says that the Drug Enforcement Agency is currently listing individual cannabinoids and marijuana as Schedule I drugs, meaning they have no medicinal value and increased the potential for abuse. He adds that because of this classification, researchers find it extremely difficult to gain permission to work with and study these substances and are required to follow complicated procedures in order to get their hands on the drugs for scientific purposes.
Interestingly enough, research on medical marijuana and opioid addiction revealed that the use of opioids decreased in some states once marijuana had been legalized. For her research, Professor Hurd looked at studies conducted in the past on animal and humans that were focusing on a particular compound found in marijuana, more specifically, CBD, short for cannabidiol.
One 2009 study conducted on rats and published in the Journal of Neuroscience revealed that this compound decreased cravings in subjects that had been previously trained to self-administer heroin and got hooked on the drug. Another similar study, conducted on human subjects, this time, two years ago showed that the use of cannabidiol decreased the cravings in individuals addicted to heroin. However, the effect lasted for only one week after the compound was administered
Nevertheless, Yasmin Hurd noted that, even so, one or two studies were not sufficient to determine the benefits of the compound and called for more research on the matter. Details of her survey have been published in the Journal Trends in Neurosciences on February 2nd.
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