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Medical cannabis

Medical benefits of cannabis can be separated from unwanted side effects

The psychoactive ingredient in cannabis has medical benefits including providing pain relief to patients but it also has some unwanted side effects such as changes in mood, memory or perception. In the image, a cannabis plant

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Cannabis can provide medical benefits to patients but also comes with side effects

The psychoactive ingredient in cannabis — tetrahydrocannabinol or THC — has medical benefits, including providing pain relief to patients, but it also has unwanted side effects such as changes in mood, memory or perception.

To find out whether these wanted and unwanted effects can be separated, researchers set up a behavioural study involving mice, published in PLoS Biology (online, 9 July 2015). They found that the absence of the serotonin receptor 5-HT2AR in the animals reduced some of the unwanted side effects of THC, including memory loss. The team discovered that treatment to inhibit the effects of the receptor in mice did not alter benefits of THC such as pain relief.

The researchers believe that the mechanism discovered in the study could be a target of future drug development that aims to retain the medical benefits of cannabis but not its unwanted side effects in humans.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20068962

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  • The psychoactive ingredient in cannabis has medical benefits including providing pain relief to patients but it also has some unwanted side effects such as changes in mood, memory or perception. In the image, a cannabis plant

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