Could CBD be Used to Lower Opioid Addiction?

 In Naturopathic News

(CBD), a Non-psychoactive Constituent in Cannabis, was Studied for its Potential Effects in Curbing Habit Formation

The opioid crisis in America is a growing epidemic. Aside from writing less prescriptions, and using alternative medications, there is a growing interest in agents that could be given along with opioids to attenuate habit formation. Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive constituent in cannabis, was recently studied for its potential effects in this regard.1 It has been difficult to get funding for marijuana research until recently, so this study is part of a corpus of research delving into a potent and promising herbal medicine, with psychotropic effects for the first time.

Murine Model Used in CBD Study

A murine model was used. Separate groups of mice were given either saline or morphine in combination with different doses of CBD. In various trials using a conditioned place preference paradigm, the effect CBD had on morphine reward was assessed. A conditioned place preference model, looks at how long, and how intensely an animal will preferentially stay in a given area of a cage, where a reward is given, and how easily it is for this preference to be overridden. After the drug-place conditioning, mice given morphine demonstrated a strong place preference.

CBD Administered with Morphine

When CBD was administered with the morphine, the drug-place preference was attenuated. Place preference was less strong than with morphine alone, and CBD did not pose its own reward or negative effects.

The thought that there may be agents included in opioid formulations which would limit the likelihood of addiction is perhaps on the horizon. CBD may be a likely candidate for future trials with human participants.


  1. Markos JR, Harris HM, Gul W, Elsohly MA, Sufka KJ. Effects of Cannabidiol on Morphine Conditioned Place Preference in Mice. Planta Med. 2017
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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