There are some unusual uses of CBD out there that you might not expect. People are consuming it for everything from epilepsy to hangovers, Parkinson’s to drug addiction. That latter reason is the one we are going to look at today. Specifically, cigarette addiction.
Many former smokers have attested to the fact that CBD decreased their cravings and helped them quit. Research has shown that nicotine interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Because of this, CBD is thought to help reduce cravings by essentially replacing the role the nicotine created for itself in the ECS.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
Before we dive into exactly why people are taking CBD to quit smoking, let’s go back over the basics of how CBD actually works in the body. CBD is one of hundreds of chemical compounds found in the Cannabis genus of plants. Around 60 of those chemical compounds are found only in Cannabis plants and so are named cannabinoids. The two most common cannabinoids are CBD and THC. Unlike THC, however, CBD has no psychoactive effects and so does not get you “high”.
CBD, like all cannabinoids, interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system, a body system that was relatively unknown until recently. Further study has shown that it is a crucial biochemical communication system in the human body, and that it plays a critical role in regulating our physiology, mood, and everyday experience.
The health benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids result from them tapping into this system and triggering cannabinoid receptors existing within the body. These receptors then stimulate changes, many of which result in positive health effects and which are extremely beneficial for the body.
This interaction with our body’s endocannabinoid system is exactly what may cause CBD to help tobacco addiction.
CBD and Cigarette Smoking: Addiction to Nicotine
Cigarettes are highly addictive because of the nicotine they contain. The longer you smoke, the more receptors are created throughout our bodies. When you don’t smoke for a period of time, and no nicotine is entering the body, you can experience unpleasant physical and psychological side-effects such as intense cravings for nicotine, anxiety, depression, weight gain, headaches, problems concentrating, drowsiness or trouble sleeping, and feeling tense, restless, or frustrated. These symptoms are called withdrawal effects.
The usual way to beat cigarette addiction and avoid the worst of the symptoms is to gradually lessen the amount of nicotine entering your body. That way, your body slowly gets used to less and less nicotine and you crave fewer and fewer cigarettes until, hopefully, you stop feeling the urge to smoke them entirely.
There have been multiple different methods and products developed to help smokers quit. These include nicotine patches, pharmaceuticals, nicotine gum, and cigarette alternatives like electronic cigarettes. These methods produce varying amounts of success for smokers, but their downside is that you remain addicted to nicotine for a longer period of time or never fully beat the addiction.
What We Know about CBD and Cigarette Smoking
Although there have not been many studies completed exploring the efficacy of using CBD products to help quit smoking, there is some evidence that it may be a better solution than traditional methods. Specifically, there is a study from several years back which found that cigarette smokers treated with CBD oil smoked 40% less than those on placebo.
The way this study worked was by using a randomized double blind placebo controlled study to assess the impact of the ad-hoc use of cannabidiol (CBD) in smokers who wished to stop smoking. 24 smokers were randomized to receive an inhaler of CBD (n=12) or placebo (n=12) for one week. They were instructed to use the inhaler when they felt the urge to smoke.
Over the treatment week, placebo treated smokers showed no differences in number of cigarettes smoked. In contrast, those treated with CBD significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by ~40% during treatment.
You can see more details of this study here.
It is not exactly clear why CBD may help cigarette addiction, but one theory is that CBD may help ease the path from addiction by replacing the role nicotine plays in the endocannabinoid system. Basically, what that means is that your cravings for nicotine start to taper off because the receptors are satisfied by the CBD.
Other Ways CBD May Help
One of the main problems with quitting cigarettes is the stress and anxiety people start to feel. CBD has well documented anxiolytic properties (anti-anxiety properties) in both animals and humans. For example, CBD has been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety for people during public speaking, in sports, and even during sex.
This 2020 article suggests that CBD may have a promising role in the treatment of various anxiety disorders. Additionally, a 2019 study also found that adult males taking 300–600 milligrams of CBD had significantly reduced anxiety symptoms. Cannabidiol has also shown great promise against post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In other words, CBD may be able to help people cope with the depression, anxiety, and even panic attacks that are common symptoms of nicotine withdrawals.
How to Take CBD for Tobacco Addiction
If you decide to consume CBD for tobacco addiction, the it’s important to not expect instant results. A lot of new CBD users will become discouraged when it doesn’t work exactly the way they want or expected it to immediately. But you should stay with it. Try different doses or different delivery methods but, above all else, give it time to build up in your system. CBD can affect everyone differently but, for many people, taking a daily dose is the best way to see results.
For the majority of consumers, CBD is subtle and it takes time to build up in their bodies. As CBD is distributed throughout their endocannaboid system, they may feel relaxed but not intoxicated. Others report feeling something similar to a “runner’s high”, which is essentially a flood of endorphins that lifts your mood in a completely natural way. Some users often experience a heightened sense of awareness, ability to focus better, and an overall sense of well-being.
If you’re looking to quit smoking cigarettes, then you have a tough road ahead. It’s no easy task to overcome tobacco addiction and then continue to stay away from it. However, CBD might just make the process a little easier and give you the boost you need to be successful and quit for good.