A non-addictive chemical found in Cannabis sativa plant could help prevent relapse among recovering alcohol and cocaine addicts, a new study published in Neuropsychopharmacology finds.
Cannabidiol or CBD is a known non-psychoactive element common in Cannabis sativa that is used to manufacture marijuana. Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California conducted experiments to determine the medical benefits of CBD.
Previous works of the literature concluded that CBD has shown potency in the treatment of pain, neurological and psychiatric disorders, and recently, prevention of drug and alcohol relapse, especially in stress-filled environments.
"The results provide proof of principle supporting the potential of CBD in relapse prevention along two dimensions CBD: beneficial actions across several vulnerability states, and long-lasting effects with only brief treatment," said Freidbert Weiss, leader of the research team.
Rats were given with a daily dose of alcohol or cocaine prior to the administration of a CBD-containing gel injected into the skin. The subjects were noted to exhibit addiction-like behaviors, including anxiety and impulsivity.
Three days after the administration of CBD, alcohol and cocaine contents have cleared in the rats' brain and blood. Researchers followed up on the subjects five months later and showed promising signs of reduced relapse when exposed to stress- and drug-inducing cues.
Since relapse among alcohol and drug addicts are caused by various factors, Weiss's team said this latest development opens a new insight on the current debate in the safety and efficacy of marijuana. He added that further studies are warranted to explore the benefits of CBD for therapeutic use.
The medical use of marijuana has always been a debated topic in public and private forum. Presently, 29 states in the country have allowed the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, while nine more passed the use of recreational cannabis.
A related study published in January 2017 by the National Academy of Sciences demonstrated effectiveness in treating chronic pain, reducing nausea and side effects of chemotherapy, calming muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis.
It is also notable that patients tend to prefer cannabis over opioid-based medications to treat certain mental illnesses as published by the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, deaths caused by opioid addiction fell 6 percent in 2014 since the state government has legalized marijuana use.
More pregnant women are also turning to marijuana to ease symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Dr. Joey Rottman, an obstetrics and gynecology expert in Burlington, Massachusetts, said that expectant mothers believe that marijuana is a safer option than prescription drugs.
Despite the potential medical benefits of marijuana, many physicians do not recommend its use due to the inadequacy of scientific proofs.