May 21, 2019

Cannabidiol, one of the compounds in marijuana, has been all the rage lately. It's been in burgers, sodas, and even skin care products. Now, a new study suggests it might be useful as a medical treatment. The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry on Tuesday, found that cannabidiol, known as CBD, reduced cravings and anxiety in patients being treated for heroin addiction.

Other medications often prescribed for opioid addiction, such as buprenorphine and methadone, also work by reducing cravings for the drug. But in many cases, these medications are not pursued as part of the patient's treatment, because their use is highly regulated and restricted, CNN explained. So exploring less restricted methods of treatment may be key in continuing to stem the nationwide opioid epidemic.

While CBD is available in many over-the-counter products, the exact concentrations of the substance are difficult to determine. This study used an FDA-approved cannabis-based medication called Epidiolex in order to control the precise amounts of CBD being administered. "We are not developing a recreational cannabis," said Yasmin Hurd, the study's lead author. "We are developing a medicine."

Before this method is approved as a treatment for opioid addiction, further studies will have to be conducted, following patients over long periods of time to determine the long-term effectiveness. But "we need to utilize every possible treatment" to help those struggling with addiction, said Julie Holland, a psychiatrist not involved in the study. For that reason, "this is an extremely significant paper." Learn more at CNN. Shivani Ishwar

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