Possible treatment for marijuana abuse found
Researchers at the University of Maryland say they may have found a new way to help marijuana abusers break their dependence on the drug.
A substance in the brain, called kynurenic acid, was able to block the brain receptors that increase good feelings caused by the chemical dopamine—a key ingredient involved in drug abuse. The researchers said kynurenic acid, produced by the breakdown of a chemical found in bananas and turkey, may prove effective as a treatment for people who are trying to quit marijuana.
In a study involving rats and squirrel monkeys, the scientists examined the effects of kynurenic acid on THC—the chemical in marijuana that activates dopamine in the brain. The animals were allowed to self-administer THC by pushing a lever.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, showed that the rats and monkeys were less likely to administer themselves the THC when they had more kynurenic acid. More importantly, boosting kynurenic acid levels prevented the animals from returning to their previous drug abuse patterns.
The researchers said that these results are promising, but further study is needed to validate these findings in humans.