Scientists Find a Marijuana-Blocking Compound Made by Your Brain

Illustration for article titled Scientists Find a Marijuana-Blocking Compound Made by Your Brain

Marijuana may make you feel nice, but according to new research, your brain may not want to go along for the ride: turns out, when your brain senses THC, it produces a hormone that counteracts the drug's effect. Buzzkill.

The hormone, pregnenolone, is the precursor of all the naturally-occurring steroids your body produces. While it was long thought to be inactive, a team of French researchers discovered that pregnenolone specifically inhibits the type-1 cannabinoid receptor, your brain's main receptor for THC. Moreover, when the researchers gave large doses of THC to mice, they observed a substantial increase in pregnenolone production, reducing the drug's effect.

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While this may sound like the harshest of letdowns for recreational users, the discovery has huge medical importance, both as a treatment for marijuana addiction and to help medical marijuana users who want the therapeutic effect without the buzz. And since the hormone is as natural as it gets (made right there in your brain), it might potentially be safer than man-made drug-blocking compounds. The researchers even point out pregnenolone's potential use to reverse THC intoxication on the spot. Which, in a roundabout way, would be the cruelest joke your brain ever played on you. [Science via The Verge]

Image modified from Shutterstock / Marishkayu & Alex Luengo

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DISCUSSION

Uh huh. So "as a treatment for marijuana addiction" it somehow has some magical psychological properties that will help people snap their mental addiction to weed? Yea, all the government funded studies show some magical addiction risk and claim it's a physical addiction, like cocaine and other heavy narcotics; but when was the last time anyone heard of a guy breaking into a house, giving someone a beat down and making off with all of their cutlery so they can "score some weed".

Hell, even About.com says this on it: "The majority of pot smokers do not develop a marijuana addiction, but some smokers do develop all the symptoms of an actual addiction after chronic marijuana use." Which, naturally, doesn't convey a very "OMG. SO SAD. MUCH JUNKIE.

I even have to wonder the validity of their work, as that a lot of addiction mice are selectively bred for response (differences in drug preferences, sensitivity, tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms). If they weren't working with some of these mice that have 1/4 human brains (scientists have been injecting human brain cells into mice, noting that they become 1/4 more human like in the ol' noggin), then where do these "bred to be addicted" mice have relevance to human traits.