Salvia battling drug addiction?

January 17, 2012

Researchers at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, are focussing on Salvia divinorum as part of their research into anti-addiction compounds that may ultimately form the basis of medications that help reduce cravings and prevent relapses for people addicted to stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine.

The study is led by Dr Bronwyn Kivell, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences. Collaborating with a medicinal chemist at the University of Kansas in the United States along with her Victoria University colleague Professor Susan Schenk, Dr Kivell is investigating ways of targeting a protein in the brain, called the kappa opioid receptor, which is the same receptor affected by Salvia.

Most hallucinogenic substances affect serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the body that influences people’s sense of well-being, but Dr Kivell says salvia is different.

“It has a unique structure and contains compounds that we think could have anti-addictive properties.”

A usual problem with compounds that target kappa opioid receptors, says Dr Kivell, is their tendency to have extreme side effects such as nausea and depression.

“However, some of those we are testing have much milder side effects.”

Read the full article here: Research helping combat drug addiction

At we will be keeping a close eye on this study and report should there be any news.