Nicotine is making millions of Americans unhealthy, even killing them in droves. Approximately 50 million people have a nicotine addiction. The United States alone, making it the most widespread of all addictions. Help exists, however. New evidence shows that cannabidiol, or CBD, the main cannabinoid in hemp plants, is effective. It is a novel therapy to quit nicotine or cigarettes and other tobacco products.
How CBD Works
CBD interacts with all systems in the body, one of which is the endocannabinoid system. This large network regulates most functions, and it has receptors throughout the body. It plays a crucial role in regulating physiological processes, such as mood, appetite, pain perception, even memory, and physiological systems, such as nervous, endocrine, immune, digestive, muscular, and reproductive systems.
CBD is similar to tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in many ways, yet it is also very different. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid that makes users “high.” CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive. As with THC, CBD interacts primarily with two receptors. Namely CB1, mostly found in the brain, and CB2, mainly found in the immune system.
The body’s own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids and produced by its endocannabinoid system, activate these receptors, as does phytocannabinoids, such as THC and CBD. However, unlike THC, CBD does not bind to these receptors. Rather, it interacts with them in a different way, by encouraging the body to produce more of its own endocannabinoids to activate these receptors and regulate function.
Because CBD does not actively bind to these receptors, it causes no psychological effects. For this reason, CBD is more popular as a medicinal therapy than THC is since it does not make anybody “high.” However, both THC and CBD have powerful medical properties, the health benefits they offer are similar, varied, and many, and CBD is the most effective compound for counteracting the effects of THC.
Effects of CBD on Nicotine Addiction
The way that CBD works to treat nicotine dependence relies on the prominent influence that it has on the nervous system. In particular, its effect on memory is the main reason why it is so effective at helping people quit smoking. To understand this better, it is important to learn about memory consolidation, a complex process widely studied in scientific circles.
When the brain first forms a memory, it is a short-term one. Gradually, through the process of memory consolidation, short-term memories become long-term ones. When this happens, it leaves a “memory trace” behind. Scientists believe that CBD is able to cause more flexibility in this “memory trace,” so that when the brain recalls a memory, it becomes easier to erase it entirely, or even modify it.
When a person smokes a cigarette, the nicotine stimulates the brain to release dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter. It is responsible for creating feelings of pleasure and reward. As one consumes more and more nicotine, the memory created by the brain starts associating nicotine consumption with this pleasurable reward. This is the basis of how all addictions form.
When a person has a nicotine addiction, his or her brain is continually craving it, wanting more release of this dopamine. These cues or memories fuel the desire to smoke more cigarettes since the brain thinks nicotine is producing the wonderful feelings. CBD is able to influence these cues and memories, ultimately curbing the desire to light up a cigarette.
Additionally, CBD has the ability to alleviate all symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal, such as insomnia, body aches, headaches, irritability, anxiety, nausea, even vomiting. Furthermore, CBD has neuroprotective properties, which means it can prevent desensitization of neurons. It is even able to repair existing neuronal damage, making it invaluable in treating all types of addiction.
What the Science Says
To date, only one study has investigated the effects of CBD on addiction to nicotine specifically. However, its results are extremely promising and offer billions of people worldwide with some real hope. In the journal Addictive Behaviors, the March 2016 issue, scientists from the University College of London published their study and their findings.
The researchers recruited 24 cigarette smokers to participate in the study, and they split them into two different groups. Everyone received inhalers, but one group got CBD-rich inhalers, while the other group got placebos. Both groups could use the inhalers whenever they felt the need to light up, and the study continued for seven days. The results astounded everyone.
The placebo group saw no difference in their smoking behaviors. However, those that consumed CBD in their inhalers had lowered their cigarette consumption by a whopping average of 40 percent. Perhaps the most interesting factor of all in this study was that the subjects were under no pressure at all use their inhalers or to quit cigarettes. They just used them when and how they wanted to.
“We found that CBD seems to reduce the salience of cues,” Dr. Celia Morgan, study co-author, said. “It can also reduce anxiety and may affect a memory process called ‘reconsolidation,’ which is where when a memory of the reward of smoking is reactivated by seeing someone smoking; it is rendered vulnerable to destruction. CBD might mean these positive smoking memories are gradually erased.”
Final Thoughts to Quit Nicotine
If you are trying to quit smoking, it may be worth trying CBD. More and more testimonials are popping up of other people having success using it. Scientific evidence is also incredibly promising in treating nicotine addiction. With the ability of CBD to affect memory and act in a neuroprotective way, anyone attempting to stop cigarettes can benefit significantly from consuming CBD.
Dorothy Watson writes for Pot Valet, a leading recreational weed delivery company in California. By so doing, he educates people about how cannabis can improve their lives. He campaigns tirelessly for its legalization across the world.