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Medical Benefits of Marijuana Can Be Separated From Its Unwanted Side Effects: Study

A study published online on July 9th 2015 in the journal PLOS Biology has demonstrated how the medical benefits of marijuana can be separated from its unwanted side effects.

The recent findings revealed a separated pathway that can alone trigger the beneficial effects of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as a pain reliever for users without affecting their mood, perception or memory.

According to the study, THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in medical marijuana that has been shown to reduce tumour growth in cancer patients as supported by the previous researches conducted by the scientists at the University of East Anglia and University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.

With the purpose of separating the medical benefits of marijuana from its side effects, the researchers focused on understanding the molecular mechanism of THC. Behavioral analysis was carried out on mice to determine how pathways in their brains operate with the treatment of THC. Researchers then controlled certain cell receptors – called the cannabinoid receptor and serotonin receptor – which are believed to be involved in the mechanism of THC.

With the results, they found out that when a particular serotonin receptor (5HT2AR) was blocked, the mice manifested a reduced amnesic effect of THC – in other words, the animal’s memory was slightly impaired – while the effects in terms of pain relief were not altered.

The research is significant because it identifies a way to reduce some of what – in the terms of medical treatment – are usually thought of as THC’s unwanted side effects, while maintaining several important benefits including pain reduction.

Read the full study here.