New research has found that roundworms exposed to marijuana compounds also get the munchies, just like humans. Cannabinoid molecules derived from the marijuana plant usually bind to endocannabinoids, whose receptors are found in the brain, other organs and connective tissues.
Popular cannabinoid molecules include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), 9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabidivarin (CBDV) and cannabivarin (CBV).
The endocannabinoid system is said to balance key bodily functions and regulate functions such as eating, anxiety, memory and sleep.
Researchers found that roundworms, or Caenorhabditis elegans as they are scientifically referred to as, fed for longer than normal while under the influence of marijuana. The worms also demonstrated a higher preference for high-quality foods over less nutritious foods.
The research suggests that the mechanism by which marijuana impacts appetite evolved more than 500 million years ago, when the evolutionary paths of humans and C. elegans diverged. This mutuality across the animal kingdom suggests that these worms could be used to study how marijuana affected the nervous system in humans.
Shawn Lockery, lead author of the study and a neuroscientist at the University of Oregon-Eugene, stated that better understanding basic drug physiology would directly influence societal health as a whole.
The researchers were motivated to conduct the experiments after the state of Oregon legalized adult-use marijuana. For their study, the scientists divided the worms into two groups then submerged one group in a solution of the endocannabinoid anandamide before placing them in the maze.
They observed that the worms developed bigger appetites, noting that in the maze, these worms mainly preferred higher quality foods, in addition to spending more time eating. Roundworms that were plunged in the solution also demonstrated less interest in bacteria that was nutritionally inferior, with researchers noting that these effects were pronounced in worms with working endocannabinoid receptors.
In separate experiments, the scientists tested endocannabinoids on worms with genetically engineered human cannabinoid receptors.
They observed that the worms responded in a similar way, with the scientists highlighting that the cannabinoids affected the worms’ food-detecting olfactory neurons, making them more sensitive to the odors of preferred bacteria.
Prior studies have demonstrated that cannabinoids cause hedonic hunger in other mammals such as primates and rats.
This latest research calls attention to similarities suggesting that Caenorhabditis elegans could offer a cost-effective way to model how compounds derived from marijuana affect the nervous system in humans.
The study reported its findings in the “Current Biology1” journal.
Plenty of research is currently ongoing, with enterprises such as IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) setting their sights on having FDA-approved formulations on the market to help patients with different ailments.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/IGC
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