Marijuana extract CBD may be used as a marijuana addiction treatment
Paradoxically, one treatment option may be to take pills containing an extract of cannabis for people who are addicted to cannabis.
The first test of the idea found that, according to the results presented at New Scientist Live this year, people taking capsules of this extract, known as cannabidiol or CBD, almost halved the amount of cannabis they smoked.
Cannabis is usually seen as a soft drug, but when they try to stop, some users–about 1 in 10 by one estimate–become addicted, with symptoms of withdrawal like anxiety and insomnia.
The number of people seeking treatment because they can not stop smoking cannabis has increased over the past decade, linked to the use of the more potent form known as skunk, University College Val Curran said.
Her group performed a study in which people completed a four-week CBD programme to relieve symptoms of withdrawal and help them stop marijuana cigarettes. There were 82 people identified as seriously addicted, given one of three different doses of CBD or placebo tablets, as well as psychological support.
The lowest dose was not effective. The 400 milligrammes mid-dose performed best, Curran said.
It halved the number of people using cannabis compared to placebo after six months, as shown by THC tests in their urine. And the maximum 800 mg dose was slightly less effective than the centre.
Interestingly, the dosage of 400 milligrammes more than doubled the number of days people did not have THC in their urine. "It's really cool," Curran said.
A previous study found that by treatment with Sativex, a marijuana extract that contains both CBD and THC, people can also be encouraged to quit cannabis cigarettes on a similar principle to using nicotine patches to stop smoking.
But using CBD alone could have advantages, says Iain McGregor at Sydney University, who helped run that study. "CBD's anti-addictive properties are varied.
In addition, McGregor's team is investigating CBD as an alcohol addiction treatment. "Severe anxiety and risk of seizures are two of the main characteristics during alcohol detoxification. We assume that CBD has very powerful properties that reduce anxiety."
Across pharmacies and health food stores, CBD supplements are gradually being marketed as treatments for a range of diseases, but at much lower doses than those used across Curran's case. And most health claims are not evidence-based. "If anyone can't stop marijuana smoking, I would encourage people to seek medical help," McGregor says.
Original article written By Clare Wilson and Jason Arunn Murugesu