Marijuana That Doesn’t Get You High: Breakthrough Pain Killer?

Professor Li Zhang and a team of scientists at the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recently discovered that the painkilling benefits of marijuana can be enjoyed without feeling like a stoner.

For hundreds of years, humans have used the cannabis plant to dull pain and treat conditions like insomnia, nausea, and lack of appetite.

As medical marijuana slowly makes its way back into society, it’s being hailed by cancer patients as a an alternative to chemotherapy. For some patients, however, the side effects of smoking or eating marijuana, such as hallucinations, anxiety, or impaired mobility, make it hard to use this natural medicine.

Through an ingenious set of experiments, Professor Zhang managed to tease apart the mind-altering and pain-relieving effects of the main component of cannabis. This could open the way to cannabis-like drugs that provide pain relief without causing unwanted highs (New Scientist).

How exactly does it work? explains:

Zhang and his team discovered that tetrahydrocannabinol (more commonly known as THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, produces different effects by bonding to different receptors in the brain. Scientists have known for years that THC bonds with a certain receptor to produce the classic disorienting marijuana high. But now researchers have identified precisely where THC targets the nervous system to lessen anxiety and dull pain. Hence, the potential to satisfy medical marijuana’s desire for pure pain relief.

The ability to isolate THC’s pain-killing attributes could bode very well for researchers and pharmaceutical companies looking to cash in on the multi-billion dollar industry.

“Soon,” says Annalee Newitz at IO9, “people whose stomachs are too tender for aspirin or ibuprofin may be swallowing THC pills to get rid of headaches.”

Related Reading:

Marijuana’s Social And Environmental Mayhem: Can Pot Ever Be Green? 

Medical Marijuana Gains Ground 

Arizona Becomes 15th State To Approve Medical Marijuana


Image Credit: Flickr - ElPablo!

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Lin Moy
Lin M4 years ago

Yes if it benefits government it will pass.
All I ever did was laugh the two times I used M. so I am not sure if I hurt really bad it would help much..but laughing in good for ya, right?

Jen Jordan
Jennifer Jordan4 years ago

I think it could be a good thing. Okay, maybe some of you still want the high but what about those who have to drive their kids to school? Or work using heavy machinery or something? Until the U.S is prepared to make it legal (which doesn't look like it's happening any time soon) then why not?

Jon Hoy
Jonjon Hoy4 years ago seen carpenters do beautiful work, but when they smoke pot, their work has all kinds of flaws. Oh Snaps, did I unleash the true foundation of congresses problem. lol

Jon Hoy
Jonjon Hoy4 years ago

This is funny! What are you going to do when smoking is banded everywhere? This is second hand smoke too.

Jerry t.
Jerold t.4 years ago

Oh yeah-Marinol. If you can keep it down. Most people can't.
I like the herbs of the fields, white willow instead of asprin. Stinkfoot instead of valium. etc. etc.
For some folk, the synthetic (fake) drugs work well. To each they're own. Leave me to mine please.

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y.4 years ago

Comfortably numb?

Doug C.
Doug C.4 years ago

What the f% is wrong with being high? Nothing. Scared you might expand your horizons? Might ask questions of yourself that shake your beliefs? Why not just join the Republican revolution and sign up for the Dark Ages?
The point is no one will ever go to jail for not smoking pot, so why should I for doing so. Free Marc Emery! Free Gaza! Jail the Bush crime family!

The Other Robert O
Robert O.4 years ago

It's always good when the drug companies find a new way to enrich themselves, but -

I always thought the 'high' was a big contributor to rising above the discomfort. That oft cited 'sense of well being' flies directly in the face of a chronic condition. It can provide a different experience for anyone suffering from a chronic condition.

That in itself can catalyze healing.

When are they going to take the intoxicating effect out of opium/heroin/percodan/etc.???

The Other Robert O
Robert O.4 years ago

I'm speechless!

Carolanne Powell
Carolanne Powell4 years ago

Yes would love to have the choice of taking this for analgesia other than the strong pain killers I take at present. I have smoked it with good pain relief effect, however, I hate smoking so would like to take it another way but without the stoned effect. Eating it is dangerous because it stays in your system for longer & can trigger psychosis. It would undoubtedly be very expensive despite it being an easy, cheap plant to grow. Like most other drugs, the drug companies make vast profits. This is one of the reasons why the UK NHS is collapsing.