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Researchers Take out the High from Marijuana in Rat Studies

Update Date: Jan 03, 2014 12:36 PM EST

Marijuana is a plant that is often used as a psychoactive drug and has been more recently used medically within the United States. Even though marijuana is relatively not as addictive as other stimulants, such as cocaine, some experts believe that marijuana could become highly addictive if people used them every single day. People who smoke marijuana recreationally do so for the high. In a new study, French researchers were able to block the effects of marijuana by using a steroid hormone.

According to the researchers headed by Dr. Pier Vincenzo Piazza from the Neurocenter Magendie located in Bordeaux, a naturally occurring hormone called pregnenolone can blunt the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the active ingredient in marijuana. The research team took this hormone and tested it on rat models in the laboratory. They found the pregnenolone worked by inhibiting the activity of the brain's type-1 cannabinoid receptor. The researchers stated that pregnenolone alters the way the brain receptors read THC as opposed to directly blocking THC from reaching the brain's cannabinoids.

"When the brain is stimulated by high doses of THC, it produces pregnenolone -- a 3,000 percent increase -- that inhibits the effects of THC," said Piazza according to WebMD.

The rodents who were given higher levels of THC made more pregnenolone, which prevented the rodents from experiencing the high. The researchers believe that this hormone, which is already sold over the counter as an anti-aging supplement, could potentially be used to treat people with marijuana use disorders. This hormone could also help with symptoms associated with an over-dose of marijuana.

"The parts that are shut down are the ones that mediate many of the effects of cannabis that you may want to get rid of," said Pier Vincenzo Piazza according to Time. "One is memory loss, another is [reduced] motivation and the third is seeking for the drug."

The study was published in Science.

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