University of Mississippi researchers have found more evidence that cannabidiol could be a powerful tool in addressing the scourge of opioid medicine abuse and addiction.
The study involved the use of morphine and conditioned place preference (CPP) testing*. Mice received IP injections of either saline or morphine and increasing doses of CBD that were paired with a distinct environment in the CPP apparatus. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that can be extracted from industrial hemp and medicinal cannabis.
After drug-place conditioning, the morphine mice displayed strong place preference that was reduced by a dose of 10 mg/kg cannabidiol, suggesting CBD blocks opioid reward.
The results indicate potential for cannabidiol to be used in battling the opioid crisis, which has been killing hundreds of people in the USA each week and is becoming a major issue in Australia, in two ways.
First, as it blocks reward mechanisms, it could be used in the rehabilitation of those addicted to opioids.
“Patients in substance abuse treatment programs may benefit from clinical trials that explore CBD’s ability to lessen the ongoing risk of relapse in addiction treatment,” said lead researcher, James Roland Markos.
Second, and just as important, it may be that cannabidiol can be combined with opioid medications to prevent abuse and addiction occurring in the first place.
While it remains to be seen if combining CBD with these medications would interfere with their pain relieving properties, there has been some research to suggest it wouldn’t. Additionally, cannabidiol on its own is believed to have some applications for treating pain, particularly relating to inflammation.
The study, which was published in the journal Thieme Planta Medica, can be downloaded here (PDF).
In related news, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has provided a USD $3.8 million grant to support the first long-term study examining whether medical marijuana reduces opioid use among adults with chronic pain. The study, to be carried out by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System, will occur over 5 years.
Last month we reported on a survey of pain patients using cannabis as a substitute for opioid medication that indicated medical cannabis was an effective alternative.
* For an easy to understand description of what conditioned place preference testing is, see this page.