New medication could treat anxiety symptoms without gastrointestinal side-effects

New medication, which relieves the symptoms of anxiety without the risk of gastrointestinal side-effects, is being tested by scientists.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University believe that the "substrate-selective" approach to activating COX-2 inhibitors could represent an improved method of treating anxiety disorders.

The treatment activates naturally produced anxiety reduction compounds in the brain called endocannabinoids, which also provide relief from physical pain.

Endocannabinoids can also be found in the gastrointestinal system, which is why an overdose of pain relief or anti-depressant drugs can cause stomach aches or other more severe symptoms. However, according to, they have tested this treatment on lab rats without any sign of gastrointestinal side-effects.

There are now plans for clinical trials on humans. These trials could be of great interest to those in counselling careers, who are often keen to keep up with the developments in treatments for mental disorders.

The scientists published their findings in the latest issue of the journal 'Nature Neuroscience'. In an interview with, lead author Lawrence Marnett suggested that this new approach could be a "really powerful way to help design the next generation of drugs."

"We thought we knew everything there was to know about (COS-2 inhibitors) until about five years ago when we discovered the substrate selective inhibition," he added.