The Richmond Register

Community News Network

December 2, 2013

Painkillers may curb memory loss from medical marijuana

WASHINGTON — Medical marijuana can alleviate pain and nausea, but it can also cause decreased attention span and memory loss. A new study in mice finds that taking an over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen may help curb these side effects.

"This is what we call a seminal paper," says Giovanni Marsicano, a neuroscientist at the University of Bordeaux in France who was not involved in the work. If the results hold true in humans, they "could broaden the medical use of marijuana," he says. "Many people in clinical trials are dropping out from treatments, because they say, 'I cannot work anymore. I am stoned all the time.' "

People have used marijuana for hundreds of years to treat conditions such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Studies in mice have shown that it can reduce some of the neural damage seen in Alzheimer's disease. The main psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat anorexia in AIDS patients and the nausea triggered by chemotherapy. Although recreational drug users usually smoke marijuana, patients prescribed THC take it as capsules. Many people find the side effects hard to bear, however.

The exact cause of these side effects is unclear. In the brain, THC binds to receptors called CB1 and CB2, which are involved in neural development as well as pain perception and appetite. The receptors are normally activated by similar compounds, called endocannabinoids, that are produced by the human body. When one of these compounds binds to CB1, it suppresses the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). The enzyme has many functions. For instance, painkillers such as ibuprofen and aspirin work by blocking COX-2. Researchers have hypothesized that the suppression of COX-2 could be the cause of THC's side effects, such as memory problems.

But that's not what researchers found in the new study. A team led by Chu Chen, a neuroscientist at Louisiana State University, discovered that giving THC to mice increased the activity of COX-2. Blocking this activation alleviated the memory and learning problems triggered by THC. For instance, mice that received a dose of THC daily for a week had problems remembering the location of a hidden platform in a water tank. If COX-2 was blocked, however, mice given THC found the platform just as fast as mice that were not treated with THC did. This result suggests "that the unwanted side effects of cannabis could be eliminated or reduced . . . by administering a COX-2 inhibitor," the authors wrote last month in Cell.

Raul Gonzalez, a psychologist at Florida International University, praises the "elegant set of experiments." But he warns that it is not clear whether inhibiting COX-2 blocks the beneficial effects of marijuana. In the study, Chen and colleagues showed that some positive impacts of THC, such as those observed in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, are still seen if the mice also receive a COX-2 inhibitor. But such an inhibitor may still interfere with the positive effects of THC on other disorders such as AIDS, Gonzalez writes in an email. "It is much too early to tell, but the current study will undoubtedly spur some exciting new research."

One conclusion of the paper is that THC and endocannabinoids can cause opposite effects when they bind to CB1, Marsicano says. That suggests that it may be too simple to think of a receptor like CB1 as a mere switch that always does the same thing if it is activated, he says. For instance, CB1 may come in slightly different forms, and THC may be particularly good at binding to only one of these forms.

The authors argue that a painkiller like aspirin may also prevent some of the downsides of cannabis abuse. But Gonzalez cautions that smoked cannabis contains many more active compounds than THC does, and they may also be involved in harming the memory and other side effects.

As for people who use marijuana recreationally, taking ibuprofen as well might kill the buzz they're looking for, Marsicano says. For instance, he says, impairments in working memory may make people prone to jump from one topic to the next during conversation, and they may have fun doing that. "So what we call side effects may attract people to marijuana in the first place."

        

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 25, 2014

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia.
    But all bets are off, apparently, when you threaten the Russian waistline.

    July 25, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • Police Brutality screen shot. Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (VIDEO)

    Allegations of police brutality are nothing new -- as long as there has been law enforcement, citizens have registered claims that some officers cross the line. But in the last few years, the claims of excessive force are being corroborated with new technology from cell phone cameras, police dash-cams and surveillance videos. 

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 24, 2014

  • Has the ipad lost its swag?

    July 24, 2014

AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Madison County’s three local governing bodies ban smoking in indoor public places?

Yes
No
     View Results