On November 1, the journal Nature published a report from a team of international researchers on how anandamide, the chemical messenger which cannabinoids mimic, interacts with coughing.
Animal studies showed that anandamide inhibits coughing caused by an irritant when lung muscles are tense, but when lung airways are relaxed it causes a coughing spasm.
A receptor site found on nerve endings in the lungs seems to control both reactions.?
“We think that by targeting cannabinoid receptors in the upper airways we can control coughs in a number of conditions,” Daniele Piomelli, a pharmacologist at the University of California, Irvine, told Reuters. He added that he hoped to begin human tests soon, with the goal of researching treatments for asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
Most current cough treatments, like codeine, operate on the brain’s cough centre and do not target the lungs directly.