Ask any smoker who wants to quit, and they’ll tell you they need help to quit smoking—CBD may just be the answer.
CBD has shown promise as a way to help smokers quit smoking. As with any addiction, it can be pretty tough to overcome the urge to smoke.
In a National Institute on Drug Abuse study, about 50% of smokers will try to quit smoking in any given year. Of that number, only 6% succeed. Of the smokers who do quit, many have tried to quit several times before they quit smoking permanently.
CBD oil is widely acknowledged for its potential for the treatment of several health conditions, including addiction. Usually, smokers are triggered by stressful situations, and one of the biggest reasons people use CBD is to combat stress and anxiety.
Why it’s hard to quit smoking.
Nicotine addiction is hard to conquer because it impacts individuals in several different ways. Environment and circumstances are factors, but research shows emotional, and cellular memory also play a role.
The brain creates links naturally: coffee and a cigarette first thing in the morning or an after-dinner smoke are situations that have become pleasurable and ingrained habits. Think of those habits as a kind of memory in the brain that is reinforced each time you light up.
That cycle of events is exactly why it’s so hard to break any addiction. Over time, smokers have reinforced our behaviors—coffee and a cigarette—and have trained themselves, down to the cellular level that smoking is pleasurable.
Nicotine creates dependency, like any other addictive substance, by reprogramming neurochemical receptors. Nicotine causes a spike in dopamine levels in the brain’s reward centers. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, as well as a hormone. In simple terms, the nicotine molecule “trains” receptors to respond only to nicotine. In other words, you have to smoke to get the reward: dopamine.
Nicotine withdrawal symptoms can begin as quickly as 2 hours after the last cigarette. The visible signs are anxiety, insomnia, and irritability. When you stop smoking, your brain begins looking for reinforcements, hence the symptoms of withdrawal.
By manipulating the brain’s synaptic receptors and neurotransmitters, CBD can reduce symptoms. At the same time, CBD stimulates receptors in the central nervous system, preventing or repairing neuron desensitization.
Studies show that CBD can help you quit smoking
A small, preliminary 2013 study conducted by the University College of London, in the UK, found that smokers in the week-long trial reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked by approximately 40%. The double-blind study of 24 smokers divided the group in half. One group received a CBD inhaler, while the second received a placebo inhaler. The smokers were told to use the inhaler whenever they wanted a cigarette. During the week, the CBD inhaler group achieved about a 40% reduction, while the placebo group showed no change in the number of cigarettes they smoked. Also, the CBD group reported that the effects continued through to follow-up.
A Scripps Research Institute study of cocaine- and alcohol-addiction in rats, found that the rats that received a CBD gel treatment were less likely to relapse and less likely to display drug-seeking behaviors or stress. Researchers noted that the effects of treatment prevented the rats’ addiction behaviors for up to five months, at which point there was no longer any CBD in their systems.
Another study on rats in 2017 found CBD disrupted the formation and reinforcement of an environment associated with addictive drugs (cocaine and morphine). In their conclusion, researchers noted CBD’s therapeutic potential to break the addiction/relapse cycle where drug dependency was linked with memory, environment, or circumstance. Given the study’s findings, CBD oil has the potential to decrease smoking’s addictive associations, even though there is no CBD-specific research.
CBD oil shows promise for nicotine withdrawal symptoms
Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for your sense of well-being. Nicotine works to release serotonin that provides the feeling of content and calm that comes from smoking.
Between cigarettes, and when you quit smoking, the lack of nicotine triggers early feelings of withdrawal, in part through a reduction in serotonin levels. Moodiness, anxiety, and decreased energy are the result if nicotine continues to be withheld. It’s the cycle of serotonin contentment and nicotine deprivation that makes it so hard to quit smoking. That’s where CBD oil can help.
CBD oil activates receptors in the brain to boost serotonin availability in the same way that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work. There’s substantial evidence that CBD oil reduces stress, anxiety, and irritability. That effect should also help you quit smoking.
Also, CBD’s well-known anti-inflammatory properties can help with the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, such as headache, body aches, and insomnia. CBD oil has been found to help people reach and maintain quality sleep. Sleep studies show that larger doses of CBD improve deep sleep cycles, while small doses promote wakefulness and alertness.
CVSI-007 is an interesting new development that may help you stop smoking
CVSI-007, a synthetic hemp-nicotine product, is a drug that CV Sciences of San Diego is developing to treat nicotine addiction. According to Joseph Dowling, CEO at CV Sciences, the two compounds affect the body in similar physiological ways. CBD mimics nicotine’s effect on the body; potentially stronger than nicotine, CBD has a longer half-life. That means CBD stays longer in the body, doing its work, resulting in a potentially useful tool for overcoming nicotine addiction.
Currently, in pre-clinical development, there is still some way to go before FDA approval. If all goes as planned, look for it to be on the market by the end of 2020.
CBD restores brain chemistry balance
As we mentioned earlier, nicotine permanently alters the brain’s synapses, preventing them from releasing neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Early studies show that CBD can restore neurotransmitters to their pre-addiction condition, which may help to prevent relapse.
What’s the best way to take CBD to quit smoking?
If you want to use CBD to quit smoking, you’ll have to do a bit of trial and error. CBD capsules, sublingual drops, and edibles, such as gummies, are the safest methods. A lot depends on your preference and what works best for you. Results vary from person to person for each form.
The best advice is to try different delivery methods and strengths. Don’t splash out on a complete set up until you know what’s going to work for you. Similarly, start with a low dosage (2.5 mg) and increase (or decrease) it over time until you reach a dosage that works best for you.
The limited evidence available indicates that using CBD to quit smoking can work for you, and it can help prevent relapse. Good luck with your efforts to join the ranks of non-smokers.