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A new study has found evidence in both rodents and humans that the drug spironolactone can reduce people’s cravings and alcohol consumption.
Spironolactone has been in the medicine cabinet for decades and was first discovered in the late 1950s. It is a type of steroid used primarily for its diuretic effect, which means that it induces water and sodium loss through increased urine output.
It has been used for a long time to reduce fluid buildup caused by conditions such as heart failure and kidney disease, which reduces the risk of subsequent serious complications; It is also used in combination with other medications to lower high blood pressure.
A help for those suffering from alcoholism
Over the years, it has become apparent that spironolactone is useful for other health problems beyond these indications. Because it can block the production of androgen hormones related to excessive oil production, for example, sometimes used to treat acne in women (In men, it causes low testosterone levels that do not offset the side effects.)
According to the medical information site Gizmodo, some research has begun to show that receptors inhibited by spironolactone may also play a role in driving people’s alcohol consumption.
If that’s the case, then the drug could help people suffering from alcohol use disorder, a chronic condition with few treatments, according to new findings published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
To better understand the drug’s potential, researchers at the National Institutes of Health decided to study its effects on mice and rats that became drunk or dependent on alcohol.
They found that increasing doses of spironolactone led to correspondingly lower levels of alcohol consumption among both types of male and female rodents without potential adverse effects such as reduced appetite for food and water.
A second part of the investigation looked at the medical records of patients treated through Veterans Affairs, the nation’s largest integrated health care system.
Compared with similarly matched control patients who were not taking the drug, patients taking spironolactone for other conditions reported a greater reduction in alcohol consumption afterwards.
Though it cannot be 100% affirmed that spironolactone is a new treatment for alcohol use disorderthis new evidence makes a strong case that it is now worth spending the time and resources to find out for sure, say the authors.
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