Pain, insomnia, nausea, and some psychological conditions are among the health issues medical marijuana is used to treat—but the drug can come with frustrating side effects like dizziness, dry mouth, and telltale red eyes.
Plus, not everybody wants to get high, a doctor notes. Another drug that's been in use since the 1970s, however, is showing promise for treating similar conditions, and it's known for not having many side effects; this site lists gallstones and liver problems as "infrequent" ones.
Fenofibrate, aka Tricor, is currently used to treat high cholesterol. The link between the two drugs has to do with the way they bind to cells, Popular Science reports.
Compounds in fenofibrate adhere to what are known as cannabinoid receptors in some cell membranes—just as compounds in marijuana do. In the lab, scientists found that fenofibrate made cells with these receptors behave in the same way marijuana does.
The discovery could pave the way for a new class of pot-like drugs, researchers say. "It may be difficult to persuade people in Colorado, Washington, and the District of Columbia that there are people who want the beneficial effects of marijuana without actually getting high," says the editor of The FASEB Journal, where the research report was published, in a press release.
"But there are people who do not want to get stoned just to get the relief that marijuana brings."