- Research suggests it may be possible to utilize the medicinal benefits of cannabis without triggering its memory impairment effects, but implementation in human treatments is estimated still to be a few years away.
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active component in marijuana, provides pain and anxiety relief, but can also lead to cognitive deficits like memory loss in users, making the development of a refined medication crucial.
- By studying the effects of organophosphorus (OP) nerve agents on certain enzymes, scientists discovered a mechanism that might be able to stimulate cannabinoid receptors without the usual cognitive disadvantages associated with THC.
- This research could lead towards the creation of a drug that delivers the medicinal benefits of cannabis without causing the ‘high’ effect in patients, revolutionizing the way cannabis medication is applied in the future.
Scientific experts project that it may be possible to tap into marijuana’s medicinal benefits without activating the plant’s memory deterioration properties. However, a refined cannabis-based medication is not expected to immediately emerge on the medical scene.
An expert in the field, Dr. Dennis J. Patin, Associate Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, asserts that, “this shows great potential but it is still years away from being applicable to human beings. I anticipate further research by some pharmaceutical corporation.“
Meanwhile, John Casida, the head investigator of the paper published in a major chemical biology journal, highlighted that his team’s study unearths new fundamental mechanistic discoveries concerning the cannabinoid system rather than recommending a medicine or treatment.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active component in marijuana, is capable of alleviating both pain and anxiety. However, its use is also associated with cognitive issues, primarily memory loss.
Indeed, a recent research discovered that numerous sclerosis patients resorting to marijuana smoking to alleviate symptoms are more vulnerable to cognitive deficits and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Revolutionizing Cannabis Medication
Casida and his research associates at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., discovered that organophosphorus (OP) nerve agents inhibited the degradation of certain enzymes that ultimately stimulate the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
Employing the same mechanism as OP pesticides, OP nerve agents promote acetylcholine- a neurotransmitter overabundance in the central and peripheral nervous system. Interestingly, in this study involving mice, the OP compounds evoked the therapeutic effects of THC (pain relief, body temperature reduction) without the cognitive disadvantages.
“Our discovery shows that a single organophosphorus compound can induce full-blown cannabinoid effects comparable to direct cannabinoid receptor triggers such as THC,” represents Casida, also the head of the Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology Laboratory at Berkeley. He believes that his team’s compound does not directly act on the cannabinoid receptors, but instead blocks the enzymes that break down endogenous cannabinoids, which thereafter stimulate the brain’s cannabinoid receptors.
He further explains that blocking these enzymes not only enhances endogenous cannabinoid signaling power but also reduces arachidonic acid levels which might be significant for pain relief. This acid pathway plays a crucial role in pain and inflammation.
This remarkable discovery suggests the exciting prospect that a drug could, in the future, be created which possesses medical benefits without inducing a ‘high’ in patients.
For more details on medical marijuana, consider visiting the Drug Policy Alliance.