CBD has potential to manage symptoms of alcohol use disorder, according to a new scientific review

A new review of the scientific literature surrounding CBD and its effects suggests that the cannabinoid could be useful in managing the symptoms of alcohol use disorder (AUD) by modulating the brain networks that perpetuate addiction.

The review, by authors from the University of Sydney and local health districts in the Australian city, attempts to “theorize the potential neurobiological mechanisms by which CBD may improve various AUD symptoms.”

“Previous research suggests that CBD may affect processes of salience, reward, emotion generation, and regulation and executive control (including inhibitory control, working memory, and self-control),” says the report, which was published Thursday in the Journal of Cannabis Research. . “These processes are highly relevant to alcohol-seeking behaviors, suggesting that CBD may have potential in the management of alcohol use disorder.”

“CBD appears to modulate neurotransmitter systems and functional connections in the brain regions involved [alcohol use disorder]suggesting that CBD can be used to manage AUD symptomatology.”

To conduct the review, the researchers analyzed previously published neuroimaging studies involving the effects of CBD in healthy brains, examining how the cannabinoid affected brain activity as well as subjective measures such as anxiety and mental sedation.

“Although not supported by all of the studies presented,” they wrote, “the majority of the neuroimaging literature presented in this systematic review suggests that CBD may normalize these processes through its effect on mesocorticolimbic, limbic, of relevance and fronto-striatal”.

“Given the relevance of the networks affected by CBD in this review in alcohol-seeking behavior and relapse,” the team concluded, “investigation into the effect of CBD on brain and behavior in populations with AUD to determine any potential role for management.”

The findings add more weight to the idea that cannabinoids like CBD may be useful in treating substance use disorders and help explain the mechanisms behind the potential benefits.

“There is a well-researched link between chronic heavy alcohol consumption that impairs reward processing, salience attribution, emotion regulation, and executive functioning (including inhibitory control, working memory and self-control) by disrupting various brain networks involved in the development and maintenance of AUD,” the study says, adding that “CBD has previously been suggested to normalize this disrupted neurocircuitry and subsequently support positive behavioral changes.”

“Here,” the authors wrote, “neuroimaging findings support the idea that CBD may modulate neurocircuitry involved in the maintenance of AUD.”

The findings add to the growing body of research into what types of conditions CBD might help treat and how. An independent study recently suggested, for example, that oral doses of CBD could help regulate menstruation-related symptoms such as irritability, anxiety and stress.

Meanwhile, the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) recently concluded that CBD is safe for long-term use in dogs, an important finding given emerging research that cannabis can effectively treat conditions such as anxiety and certain illnesses of the skin between the canines.

Amid state-level marijuana legalization and federal governments’ legalization of low-THC hemp and its derivatives, interest in research into the hemp industry and trade has also increased in recent years.

Last month, new federally funded research into how to tell hemp and marijuana apart to help crime labs identified two new methods to tell the two forms of cannabis apart.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also made a request in 2022, seeking portable marijuana analyzers to quickly identify cannabinoid profiles and help distinguish between marijuana and hemp.

And in 2019, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced separately that it was seeking a device to provide specificity to distinguish between hemp and marijuana as the former crop was legalized.

The USDA has also sent thousands of surveys to hemp farmers, with the goal of understanding how the industry is growing, but also identifying challenges in business and regulation. The department launched its first annual survey in 2021 and updated the questionnaire last year before distributing it to farmers and publishing a report with findings showing significant declines in the value and production of the 2022 crop.

The Food and Drug Administration, meanwhile, is considering a proposal to allow hemp seed meal as feed for chickens.

Meanwhile, the USDA has been revoking hemp licenses for farmers who are simultaneously growing marijuana under state-approved programs, underscoring another political conflict stemming from the ongoing federal ban on some forms of the cannabis plant.

Federal hemp rules could be further tweaked as part of the next iteration of large-scale farm legislation. The 2018 farm bill that legalized the crop was due to be updated last year, but has been extended through much of 2024.

Lawmakers and stakeholders are considering a number of proposals that could be incorporated, including measures to free up hemp companies to legally market products such as CBD dietary supplements or in the food supply and remove restrictions on participation in the industry of people with certain previous drug convictions.

For now, the hemp industry continues to face unique regulatory hurdles that companies have blamed for the fall in the value of the crop in the few years since its legalization. Despite the economic conditions, however, a recent report found that the hemp market by 2022 was larger than all state marijuana markets and roughly equaled craft beer sales nationally.

Meanwhile, internally at the USDA, food safety workers have been encouraged to exercise caution and avoid cannabis products, including federally legal CBD, as the agency sees an increase in positive THC tests amid the confusion as more states enact legalization.

21 state attorneys general push Congress to regulate intoxicating hemp products

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