Scientists at Gilead Sciences Inc. have successfully demonstrated that the extract of Kudzu vine could have therapeutic significance in treating cocaine addiction. Kudzu which is originally native to Asia is already known to show good efficacy in treating alcoholism. Kudzu was imported by USA to control soil erosion and now it is widely spread vine in Southeastern United States. This vine grew so profusely that it is now popularly known as “the vine that ate the South” (of the United States).
Statistics show that every year several people fall prey to variety of drug addiction. And a drug like cocaine has remained in vogue for several decades now. Regardless of socio-economic strata, age group or gender, cocaine has been victimizing vast population. In 2009 about one in six Americans (15 percent in 2007) had tried cocaine by the age of 30, and 7 percent had tried it by their senior year of high school. But in recent years knowledge of serious ill effects of cocaine on neurological and cardio-vascular health has made it compelling to determine the curative agents to treat cocaine addiction. However, even after concerted efforts, till date, there has been no specific medication available to treat cocaine addiction. Kudzu extract is now under consideration as a new hope for treating cocaine addiction.
How cocaine works
- Cocaine is an alkaloid obtained from the cocoa plant and is a powerfully addictive stimulant-drug, usually administered via snorting, smoking or injecting
- Cocaine’s ingestion leads to increased energy and decreased fatigue and mental alertness
- Cocaine elevates the levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and good feelings in general. Excess production of dopamine is responsible for cocaine’s euphoric effect
Adverse effects of Cocaine on health
- Cocaine abuse can lead to constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure
- It could also cause headaches, nausea, and abdominal pain
- Snorting of cocaine can lead to loss of ability to smell; bleeding nose; swallowing problems
- Restlessness and Anxiety is commonly observed in cocaine abusers
- Cocaine abusers also become easily vulnerable to cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disorders
More about the discovery
Scientists at Gilead reported in a journal Nature Medicine that treating rats with Kudzu extract refrained them form consuming more cocaine. Gilead inherited this medicinal drug during the acquisition of CV Therapeutics Inc.
- CV Therapeutics derived...
a synthetic extract called aldehyde dehydrogenase -2 inhibitor (ALDH2i) from Kudzu. This extract carries the experimental name of CVT-10216
- ALDH2i acts on brain to reduce excess dopamine level and “restore the homeostasis”. Dopamine is neurotransmitter which enhances it’s own levels, in short higher the dopamine levels more will be the dopamine production and hence it is imperative to control dopamine level
- ALDH2i, sets a negative feedback loop that prevents dopamine synthesis from going out of control in response to addictive drugs.
- “This drug seems to work on the basis of the intensity of the craving or need,” Diamond said. “It is more powerful as an inhibitor the more you are addicted. The greater the craving, the more effective the drug.”
- The studies also showed that not only did ALDH2i stop rats from consuming more cocaine but it also did prevent them from relapsing
- The big advantage of this pharmacological discovery lies in the fact that it does not block dopamine receptors or inhibit dopamine synthesis. Blocking receptors or inhibiting dopamine production completely could interfere with the normal pleasure.
Diamond, who is a former vice president of neuroscience at Palo Alto-based biotech Gilead Sciences Inc., is positive about soon securing FDA approval for using Kudzu in cocaine treatment. The new discovery has brought in new hopes for cocaine addicts, but the fact remains that prevention is the best cure. Several lives have been irreversibly ruined due to drug abuse. There are so many resources to help a drug addict that you can use for the benefit of a friend or loved one who is hooked on cocaine or other illicit substances. Healthy life is the most precious thing you could posses and cocaine addiction could take your most precious thing away from you. Medical science has been gracious enough to lend its helping hand when needed. But it is our responsibility to be informed and choose the best for us and for the progress of society in general.