Researchers in Gothenburg, in Sweden, have discovered that the hormone ghrelin seems to be connected to alcohol addiction. Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and the pancreas and plays a role in controlling the appetite. Experiments on animals appear to show however, that if its action on the brain is blocked, the desire for alcohol is reduced. Clearly this discovery could lead to vital new therapies for alcoholism.
The experiments so far have shown that mice treated with increased ghrelin increase their consumption of alcohol. But when the action of ghrelin on the brain is blocked by giving the mice ghrelin receptor antagonists, they stop consuming alcohol. It seems as if alcohol is no longer addictive to the treated mice. The question now is whether or not this could also be true in humans. But the importance of this research doesn’t stop there. According to the researchers, this discovery could also be used in the treatment of other additions such as drug and food addictions, and perhaps also behavioural addictions such as over-spending and gambling. If so, then this research just might eventually offer a light at the end of tunnel for the millions of people worldwide who suffer from debilitating additions.