Marijuana-like compounds produced naturally by the body may hold the key to reducing high blood pressure, research at the University of Nottingham Medical School suggests.
"These are natural substances present in all our bodies that seem to have important effects on our circulation," said Professor Brian Pentecost, medical director of the British Heart Foundation. "Hopefully, this project will shed new light on how we could use these effects to help heart patients."
The British Heart Foundation is funding the Nottingham study. Preliminary research reveals that anandamide, an endogenous marijuana like substance, relaxes blood vessels and may reduce blood pressure.
"This research should tell us a great deal more about how these substances affect our circulation," said Dr. David Kendall of The Queen's Medical Centre. "This is a new and exciting area of research which could ultimately lead to better treatments for a range of cardiovascular diseases."
Researchers first identified anandamide in 1992 and are just now beginning to study how the agent interacts with the body to control pain and other functions. Scientists named the compound after the Sanskrit word for eternal bliss.
For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.