Scientists have discovered that human brains make their own marijuana, which may lead to new marijuana-like drugs for pain management as well as appetite stimulation.

“Ideally, this development will lead to drugs that bind to and activate the THC receptor, but are devoid of the side effects that limit the usefulness of marijuana,” said Lakshmi A. Devi of the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and one of the senior researchers involved in the study.

By extracting small proteins, called peptides, from the brains of mice, scientists determined their amino acid sequence. By comparing these proteins to other peptides, several not only bound to the brain’s THC receptors, but activated them as well. This finding shows that our brains make proteins that act directly on the marijuana receptors in our head. Dr. Gerald Weissmann adds, “The next step is for scientists to come up with new medicines that eliminate the nasty side of pot-a better joint, so to speak.”

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