Researchers at the University of Missouri have found that resveratrol, a natural chemical found in various fruits and vegetables, can help block the effects of the dangerously addictive drug, methamphetamine.
The study was conducted by Dennis Miller, associate professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences and researchers at the Center for Translational Neuroscience at the University of Missouri.
Their research has focused on the role the neurotransmitter dopamine plays in drug addiction and in methamphetamine use in particular.
After methamphetamine use, a surge of dopamine is released. Over time, repeated use of the drug can cause the dopamine receptors in the brain to degenerate, leading to behavioral changes and neurological impairments similar to those associated with Parkinson’s disease.
This led the researchers to test resveratrol, which has been shown to regulate dopamine neurons in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease patients. The study used protocols established by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease research in order to test whether resveratrol affected dopamine levels in the brain when combined with methamphetamine use.
Over the course of seven days, a group of lab rats were given resveratrol once a day in the concentrations most people receive from a healthy diet. After a week, the rats were dosed with methamphetamine and their dopamine levels were measured against those in a control group.
Researchers found that not only did the resveratrol diminish the amount of dopamine released by methamphetamine; it also lowered the drug’s ability to produce hyperactivity, which is a common symptom in people who use the stimulant.
These results are particularly encouraging, as it is the dopamine spike in the brain that causes addicts to feel the enjoyment from using the drug, and also stimulates the craving for more.
Researchers hope that these results may encourage physicians and rehab centers that treat methamphetamine addicts to add resveratrol to the treatment regimen. It is their belief that resveratrol could potentially decrease an addict’s craving and desire for the drug, making it easier for them to overcome the addiction.
While there are no consistently effective remedies for drug addiction, resveratrol could be an excellent treatment option. This is especially true since is a natural component of many healthy, colorful foods, particularly grapes.
Resveratrol carries few risks and little side effects; in fact, Miller suggests that everyone includes plenty of resveratrol-containing foods in their everyday diet.
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Last reviewed: 26 Nov 2013