Grape skin extract may cut meth cravings

"People are encouraged by physicians and dietitians to include resveratrol-containing products in their diet," says Dennis Miller. "And protection against methamphetamine’s harmful effects may be an added bonus." (Credit: Tomas Sobek/Flickr)

Resveratrol—a natural compound found in colored vegetables, fruits, and especially grapes—may be an effective way to block the effects of the highly addictive drug methamphetamine.

Earlier studies have shown the compound may minimize the impact of Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease in people who maintain healthy diets.

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Dennis Miller, associate professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri, studies therapies for drug addiction and neurodegenerative disorders. His research targets treatments for methamphetamine abuse and has focused on the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in drug addiction.

Dopamine levels in the brain surge after methamphetamine use, an increase that is associated with the motivation to continue using the drug, despite its adverse consequences.

However, with repeated methamphetamine use, dopamine neurons may degenerate causing neurological and behavioral impairments, similar to those observed in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Enjoyment or craving?

“Dopamine is critical to the development of methamphetamine addiction—the transition from using a drug because one likes or enjoys it to using the drug because one craves or compulsively uses it,” Miller says.

“Resveratrol has been shown to regulate these dopamine neurons and to be protective in Parkinson’s disease, a disorder where dopamine neurons degenerate; therefore, we sought to determine if resveratrol could affect methamphetamine-induced changes in the brain.”

For a study published in Neuroscience Letters, scientists using procedures established by Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease research, gave rats resveratrol once a day for seven days in about the same concentration as a human would receive from a healthy diet.

After a week of resveratrol, they measured how much dopamine was released by methamphetamine and found that resveratrol significantly diminished methamphetamine’s ability to increase dopamine levels in the brain.

Grapes’ added bonus

Furthermore, resveratrol diminished methamphetamine’s ability to increase activity in mice, a behavior that models the hyperactivity observed in people that use the stimulant.

“People are encouraged by physicians and dietitians to include resveratrol-containing products in their diet and protection against methamphetamine’s harmful effects may be an added bonus,” Miller says.

“Additionally, there are no consistently effective treatments to help people who are dependent on methamphetamine.

“Our initial research suggests that resveratrol could be included in a treatment regimen for those addicted to methamphetamine and it has potential to decrease the craving and desire for the drug.

“Resveratrol is found in good, colorful foods, and has few side effects. We all ought to consume resveratrol for good brain health; our research suggests it may also prevent the changes in the brain that occur with the development of drug addiction.”

Source: University of Missouri