How To Quit Smoking: CBD and Nicotine Addiction
An estimated 50 million or more people are addicted to nicotine in the United States alone, making it the most common addiction in America. New research has suggested that cannabidiol (CBD), one of two main cannabinoids found in marijuana and hemp plants, may be a promising new treatment for nicotine addiction. So, if you’re wondering how to quit smoking, your answer may lie within CBD.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD works with several systems in the body, primarily the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a large regulatory system, comprised of numerous receptors located all throughout the body. The ECS plays a major role in regulating many physiological processes, including appetite, mood, pain sensation and memory. In addition, it helps regulate all physiological systems in our bodies, such as the nervous system, digestive system, immune system, endocrine system, muscular system and reproductive system.
Similar to THC, CBD primarily works with two receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors primarily are located within the brain and nervous system, while CB2 receptors mainly are found within the immune system. Both receptors can be activated either by the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids or by cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.
However, unlike THC, CBD does not directly bind to these receptors. Instead, it simply encourages the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids to activate the receptors, causing them to do more of what they normally do.
Because CBD does not bind to the receptors, it produces no psychological effects. This is the main reason why people typically turn to CBD rather than THC for medicinal purposes, though the health benefits of both cannabinoids are similar. In fact, CBD actually helps mitigate the negative side effects of THC.
How Can CBD Help with Nicotine Addiction?
The reason CBD has been shown to be so beneficial when it comes to giving up cigarettes and nicotine addiction as a whole is because of its prominent role in the nervous system. In particular, it’s thought the way CBD affects memory may be a reason it is so effective at helping people give up smoking.
To better understand how CBD affects memory, we first should go through a process called memory consolidation. When a memory first is formed, it goes into short-term memory. Slowly, memories in the short-term memory are moved into the long-term memory. When this process occurs, there is a sort of “memory trace” left behind. Researchers believe that CBD can help to make this memory trace a little more flexible when a memory is recalled, allowing it to be erased and/or modified.
When nicotine is consumed, it stimulates the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a powerful neurotransmitter and creates a feeling of reward and pleasure. As more nicotine is consumed, the brain creates memories and associates nicotine consumption with this pleasurable feeling. This is how an addiction is formed. When someone is addicted to nicotine, their brain continually craves it, so that more dopamine will be released. So, the desire to smoke cigarettes is fueled primarily by memories or cues, due to the rewarding feelings nicotine produces. CBD can affect these memories and cues, curbing the desire.
In addition, CBD can help alleviate the symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal, including head and body aches, insomnia, irritability, nausea/vomiting, and anxiety. Plus, CBD acts in a neuroprotective manner by preventing neuronal desensitization. It even can repair already-existing neuronal damage as well. This makes it an invaluable tool when it comes to overcoming addiction.
As of now, only one study has been conducted specifically to CBD’s ability to assist with nicotine addiction. However, the study had incredibly promising results.
In the March 2016 issue of Addictive Behaviors, researchers at the University College of London published their findings. In their study, 24 cigarette smokers were recruited and split into two groups. One group received inhalers containing CBD, while the other group received inhalers with a placebo.
Both groups were told to use the inhalers anytime they felt the urge to smoke for seven days. The evidence was astounding. While the placebo group showed no difference in their smoking habits, the group that received the CBD inhalers had reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked by an average of 40 percent. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this study is that participants were not made to use the inhaler or told to quit smoking.
Dr. Celia Morgan, who co-authored the study, stated, “We found that CBD seems to reduce the salience of cues. It also can reduce anxiety and may affect a memory process called ‘reconsolidation,’ which is where when a memory of the reward of smoking is re-activated by seeing someone smoking, it is rendered vulnerable to destruction.”
Dr. Morgan went on to say, “CBD might mean these positive smoking memories are gradually erased.”
One smoker of more than 25 years shared his testimonial of how CBD oil is helping him to quit smoking:
“The cravings have subsided. The urge is significantly reduced. The constant need for that cigarette after an activity has faded away. I have personally gone from 1 pack a day, to less than 5 cigarettes a day, and that number is dropping.”
Overall, the evidence is extremely promising for CBD in the treatment of nicotine addiction. With the way CBD affects memory and its ability to act in a neuroprotective manner, those suffering from nicotine addiction can benefit greatly from using CBD.
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