Medical marijuana’s underexplored potential for helping opioid addiction

A small human pilot study, along with a number of animal studies, are revealing that cannabinoids, extracts of cannabis legally sold as medical marijuana, could reduce cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms in heroin users. In light of the U.S. opioid epidemic, this is a neglected area of research that quickly needs attention, argues neurobiologist Yasmin Hurd of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who studies how both cannabinoids and opioids act on the brain. She discusses her position in a short review published February 2 in Trends in Neurosciences.

While both cannabinoids and opioids regulate the perception of pain, the two drugs affect different parts of the brain and how the sensation is communicated from neuron to neuron. This translates into cannabinoids having, for example, a stronger effect on inflammation-based chronic pain. Meanwhile, opioids are particularly good at relieving acute pain, which is why they are used in surgery.

... read more at: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/cp-mmu012617.php

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