Scientists are looking for an alternative to opioids for pain. The opioid epidemic claimed 28,000 lives in 2014. Medical marijuana is widely regarded as a sensible alternative, but the “high” remains problematic. We wonder if they’ve heard of CBD oil?
The epidemic proportions of opioid addiction in America has caused scientists to look for a “safer” alternative other than cannabis for pain.
Quartz reports on opioid addiction. Opioids are strong painkillers often prescribed to patients with chronic pain caused by surgery, major injury or cancer. Patients often end up addicted, overdosing, or turning to street versions like heroin.
Opioid related deaths are becoming a great concern. Scientists from Indiana University announced shortly after American citizens gave medical marijuana the thumbs up in four more states, that they had successfully tested a synthetic cannabinoid compound. The compound is equal in strength to opioids and marijuana, but with no risk of addiction or a high.
The work, not yet published, was presented at the annual Society for Neuroscience Conference in San Diego, California.
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A new compound created
Researchers from the Northeastern University created the pain-neutralizing compound described as a type of positive allosteric modulator (PAM). The compound binds to the CB1 receptors in the brain that respond to cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are the active compounds in marijuana, which reduce pain.
The efficacy of the compound was tested on mice that received chemotherapy which caused severe nerve pain. The mice expressed clear symptoms of pain, moving in a cautious manner and avoiding cold. After they received the new compound, called CB1 PAM, the mice moved around freely, suggesting they were pain free.
The movement of the mice indicated they were not affected by the typical side effects associated with THC. The compound’s effects also lasted longer than a typical medical marijuana treatment, as the efficacy is reduced over time when the body gains tolerance.
CB1 PAM treats pain without side effects
The conclusion the scientists came to because the mice didn’t appear “stoned” and didn’t need extra dosages to alleviate their pain over time, is that the new compound can treat pain without unwanted side effects.
Andrea Hohmann, a neuroscientist at Indiana University and author of the paper, said, “We found that the compound did not produce reward on its own, so it’s unlikely that CB1 PAM would be abused as a recreational drug.”
Obviously, a chemical compound that treats pain in lab mice has a long way to go before it can be of any use to humans, but this work is considered by scientists as a step forward in the quest to alleviate pain without the devastating effects of opioids. Deaths associated with prescription opioid abuse have surpassed cocaine and heroin overdose deaths combined.
CBD for pain
Chronic pain is estimated to affect nearly 50 million adults in the United States.
CBD reduces pain without any psychoactive side effects. If you suffer chronic pain, and would prefer a natural, safe alternative to opioids, speak to your doctor to find out if CBD cannabis for pain could help you.