Scientists have discovered a molecule in the brain that may limit the effects of too much cannabis.
Marijuana has never been linked to an overdose death, and new findings may explain why.
In an interview with WebMD, study author Dr. Pier Vincenzo Piazza explained that rats exposed to THC showed a dramatic rise in a brain hormone called pregnenolone. The hormone also seemed to prevent marijuana’s intoxicating effects.
But the study, originally meant for developing a treatment for cannabis addiction, has been met with different interpretations.
While the authors say that a treatment based on pregnenolone could soon be tested in humans, others believe the study provides a clear explanation for how the brain protects itself against marijuana overdose.
By binding to cannabinoid receptors, THC triggers the release of pregnenolone, which in turn weakens THC’s action on the receptors – a negative feedback loop that could prevent marijuana users from getting too high.