Smokers trying to quit in the near future can do it with the help of cannabis-based medicines, says a new research.
Studying the cannabis-like compounds that exist naturally in our bodies, endocannabinoids, scientists at The University of Nottingham are exploring the potential for medical treatment.
AdvertisementThis includes treating conditions as diverse as obesity, diabetes, depression and addiction to substances like nicotine.
"It is clear that there is very realistic potential for cannabinoids as medicines. Scientists are looking at a range of possible applications," said Dr Steve Alexander, Associate Professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences.
Professor David Kendall, a cellular pharmacologist at the University said: "The brain is full of cannabinoid receptors. And so, not surprisingly with diseases like depression and anxiety, there's a great deal of interest in exploiting these receptors and in doing so, developing anti-depressant compounds."
Kendall believes that endocannabinoids could be a crucial link to addictive behaviour: "We know that the endocannabinoid system is intimately involved in reward pathways and drug seeking behaviour. So this tends to indicate that that if the link involving endocannabinoids and the reward pathway, using inhibitors, can be interrupted, it could turn down the drive to seek addictive agents like nicotine."
Because cannabinoids have also been shown to bring down blood pressure, it is hoped that related compounds can be used in patients with conditions like hypertension.
Dr Alexander said: "In terms of getting better medicines the endocannabinoid system has a lot to offer. The range of cannabis-related medicines is currently limited, but by increasing our knowledge in this area we can increase our stock."
The study is published in The British Journal of Pharmacology.