Scientists have found new evidence showing that cannabidiol, a marijuana compound free of the substance that is responsible for perception alteration, can help those addicted to alcohol or drugs avoid relapse for as long as several months. Just one week of treatment can prevent consumption of alcohol and taking drugs – at least in rodents.
A new research carried out by a team from the Scripps Research Institute shows that a non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana can help addicts avoid abusing substances and drinks even in stressful situations.
The compound in question is called cannabidiol, often abbreviated as CBD. It does not induce hallucinations, like THC does, so it can be used as a separate medicine, and no smoking is required, which makes it a better option.
The researchers developed a gel with CBD and tested it on rats. The rodents were divided into two groups: one of them consumed cocaine on a daily basis, and the other group drank alcohol. Then a week-long treatment started: the rats were given the CBD gel every day for 7 days. After that, the scientists analyzed whether the amount of substance or alcohol consumed decreased, and found that the intake was reduced, and even stress-inducing conditions did not led to consumption of substances – in spite of the fact that the rodents were given a choice.
However, it is not the only thing they found: even if the CBD gel was applied to the skin instead of using it internally, it still produced the effect. Besides, the impulsiveness and anxiety levels decreased.
CBD continues to help prevent relapses in former addicts for as long as 5 months. The long-term effect was achieved after only one week of treatment. The compound is removed from the body, including the brain and plasma, within 3 days, but the effect lasts much longer.
Cannabidiol is also used to treat other conditions and diseases. CBD is mostly used in patients suffering from epilepsy or psychotic disorders. Its safety profile has recently been confirmed. The compound side effect profile is also reported to be better than those of other drugs used to treat such diseases. Among the side effects that those who take CBD may experience are diarrhea, tiredness, and weight changes. It remains unknown whether cannabidiol can affect levels of hormones, so more trials are needed to find out if it is safe to use the drug.
CBD has been reported to alleviate the symptoms of Dravet symptoms, i.e. significantly reduce seizure recurrence. The chemical appears to be effective in some patients with epilepsy, and more researches are being conducted to study the efficacy of CBD.
However, even those who may benefit from it sometimes do not have access to the compound, as it is regarded as a Schedule I drug. Besides, one should be careful when buying CBD-based medications online, because, as Penn reports, almost 70% of CBD extracts offered online are mislabeled. Since it is parents of children with epilepsy who are most likely to buy such extracts, they should be informed that mislabeled drug use can lead to serious side effects, especially if it’s a child taking it. Some of the CBD-containing drugs sold are under-labeled, which means there is more CBD in it than the amount stated on the label, or, conversely, over-labeled, and the concentration is lowed than claimed. Besides, in some extracts, THC was detected, and it is reported to cause cognitive impairment, so it should be avoided.
More research is needed to find out how CBD affects the human body, and while studies in rats turn out to support the chemical efficacy, there is still a lot of work to do.