Study: CBD may help reduce cravings, anxiety for heroin addicts

CBD oil at Commonwealth Extracts in Louisville, Ky. (WTHR Photo)

NEW YORK (WTHR) — Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York conducted a clinical study that revealed encouraging results for people who suffer from heroin dependency.

Participants used CBD as a way to fight cravings and anxiety, helping to break their addictions.

According to NBC News, lead researcher Yasmin Hurd said her team conducted the study because heroin addicts are in desperate need of new treatment options.

"The specific effects of CBD on cue-induced drug craving and anxiety are particularly important in the development of addiction therapeutics because environmental cues are one of the strongest triggers for relapse and continued drug use," Hurd said.

The study was small, but results were promising.

The 42 participants were sober at the time of the study, but had a history of heroin use. Half received CBD, and the other half received a placebo. Researched analyzed the response to neutral and drug-related cues immediate following taking the pill, 24 hours after taking the pill and a week after taking the final pill.

Results showed those who received the CBD had reduced drug cravings and had less anxiety when looking at photos of people using drugs. It also showed the CBD seemed to help longer term, even after it's expected to still be in the body.

There were also promising findings with those who used CBD having a reduced heart rate and salivary cortisol level, which usually increase with images of people using drugs.

Hurd said her team measured the physiological (heart rate and salivary cortisol levels) response because cravings and anxiety can be subjective, and users can trick themselves.

"These drug cues increase heroin users' heart rates and the levels or cortisol so we know it's not subjective because with the CBD, their heart rates and levels of cortisol decreased," Hurd told NBC news.

There has been a growing buzz over CBD, its health benefits and its legality in recent months. More research into CBD use to treat heroin addiction is necessary before it can be proven the results of the Mount Sinai study are due to CBD alone, but it could be on the way.

The results of the study were published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The Mount Sinai team plans to do a larger trials and other research in the future.

To read a longer report from NBC News on this study, click here.

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