The present opioid epidemic has emphasized the need for efficacious and safe pharmacotherapies that can treat pain. The combination of opioids and marijuana can be beneficial for pain sufferers in this regard. This research emerges in the midst of a national opioid abuse contingency where different addictions begin with opioids prescribed for treating pain. Simultaneously, marijuana use has been on the surge, with more states legalizing its use for recreational or medical purposes.
An animal study currently, has shown the safety of using THC and CBD with opioid pain relievers. The findings reveal that using opioids and the compounds – CBD and THC together can provide a safe method to reduce opioid dosage among those afflicted by pain. This lowers the risk of being dependent and addicted to opioids.
There has been a tremendous interest in applying medical marijuana for chronic pain sufferers as compounds present in marijuana like CBD and THC may deliver pain relief on their own or augment the pain alleviation effects of opioids. All this indicates that patients can potentially take lower opioid dosages and still achieve pain relief. Consuming less pain medication can eventually result in minimizing the chances of addiction or physical dependence on opioids.
What Does The Research Say?
The research led by Lawrence Carey, postdoctoral fellow, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio discovered that CBD and THC do not augment the rewarding effects of opioids. This new research will be presented at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual meeting in the course of the Experimental Biology 2922 meeting to be held in Philadelphia from April 2-5.
The new study offered rhesus monkeys the option to select a food reward or an injection of fentanyl – an opioid. Following this, they examined whether CBD, THC, or their mixtures influenced the frequency with which the monkey chose fentanyl over food. They discovered that
An extensive range of CBD or THC doses whether alone or mixed did not increment or reduce the number of times they chose fentanyl.
“Giving the animals the opportunity to choose between a drug injection and a food reward helped us to somewhat replicate choices a human drug user may face, such as whether to spend money on drugs or food,” mentioned Carey. He also further stated that receiving the choice of food response is also helpful for knowing about drugs like THC that evoke sedative effects. It also helps to show that the animal is reallocating behavior from medication towards food choice in place of just shutting down their drug response because of sedation.
Findings of The Researchers
The researchers believed that a major factor for people to continue taking opioids after becoming addicted is the emergence of withdrawal symptoms. Carey further added, “We are using what we learned from this study to determine whether these doses -; which didn’t alter choice for food or drug rewards -; may help relieve opioid withdrawal or decrease relapse and drug-seeking behavior following periods of abstinence.”
The investigators warned that opioid use is a complex condition, and many factors need to be assessed while developing a drug to manage it. Although this research suggests that CBD and THC do not augment the rewarding effects of opioids, they hold that before incorporating these findings into others, it will be essential to consider whether such treatments modify different pathological processes connected with opioid use and to effectively understand the risks that may be linked with their usage.
The researchers are presently carrying out other studies to analyze whether CBD and THC can lower opioid withdrawal symptoms and relapse.
What Opioids Can Do?
Opioids are extremely addictive as they can stimulate powerful reward centers within your brain. They activate the release of the feel-good neurotransmitters of your brain known as endorphins. Endorphins suppress your pain perception and elevate pleasure feeling, causing a temporary but strong sense of wellness. These classes of drugs work in your nervous system to deliver pain alleviation and pleasure feelings.
However, consuming opioids for a long duration can lead to dependence so much so that on stopping its use, they develop physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms such as diarrhea, anxiety, and muscle cramps.
Researchers have been aware of the pain-alleviating potential of cannabis for a long time but had to linger on it till now to establish how this plant species can create such therapeutic substances. However, their finding can help to find a remedy to the opioid crisis. To be able to provide a new solution to pain relief is exciting and such work holds the promise to become a new arsenal in pain relief and drug dependence.