Mechanism of Action

Several lines of evidence support the hypothesis that GHB is a neurotransmit-ter. GHB temporarily suppresses the release of dopamine in the mammalian brain. This is followed by a marked increase in dopamine release, accompanied by the increased release of endogenous opioids (Hechler, Goebaille, & Maitre, 1992). GHB also stimulates pituitary growth hormone (GH) release, although the mechanism by which GHB stimulates GH release is not known. Dopamine activity in the hypothalamus stimulates pituitary release of GH, but GHB inhibits dopamine release as it stimulates GH release. While GH is being released, serum prolactin levels also rise in a similar, time-dependent fashion. GHB has several different actions in the CNS, and some reports indicate that it antagonizes the effects of marijuana (Galloway et al., 1997). The consequences of these physiological changes are unclear, as are the overall health consequences for individuals who use GHB.

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