Even though smoking is one of the most dangerous and harmful activities out there, many continue with this habit. Of course, we all realize that smoking is highly addictive, and it is not so easy to quit.
Many methods have been invented to help people quit smoking, but most of them are not effective. Nicotine replacement therapies may help reduce your craving for cigarettes, but, because they still contain nicotine, they don’t effectively break the addiction without additional support.
Many times, smokers that do manage to break the habit end up relapsing, sometimes in as little as a week.
Well there is some good news on that front as CBD has been shown to help break the nicotine habit. Here is a bit about how it works.
Studies on Smoking and CBD
The effects CBD has on smoking has been studied over time. One study conducted in 2013 had very promising results in determining how CBD can be effective in breaking the nicotine limbo. The research was led by CJ Morgan, a member of the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit at the University of London. Results were published in 2013 in the Addictive Behavior journal.
The study looked at 24 smokers who were randomly chosen and split into two equal groups. Both groups were given inhalers but for one group, the inhaler contained CBD and for the other group, inhalers contained a placebo.
The participants were told to take a puff from the inhaler every time they felt the urge to smoke. They were not told to try to reduce their smoking habit in any other way.
Results showed the smokers with the placebo had no decrease in their smoking habits while those who had CBD in their inhalers experienced a 40% reduction. What’s more, these same smokers went on to smoke in limited amounts after the one week study was over, without the need of the CBD inhaler.
Why CBD Can Reduce Nicotine Use
The way CBD works in the body to reduce the need for nicotine is still being looked into, but here are some theories on how it might limit addictive behavior.
CJ Morgan believes the results may be due to how CBD alters the memories associated with smoking. Normally, someone might have the urge to smoke after smelling second hand smoke, seeing someone else smoke or after experiencing stress or anxiety.
This stimulus brings on a memory of how good it feels to smoke. The memory becomes so intense that the feeling is hard to ignore so that the smoker feels they must light up.
CBD has an effect on the memory which reduces these urges. Here’s a bit about how it works.
When memories are first formed, they are put into short term memory. Over time, they are transferred to long term memory. When this happens, a ‘memory trace’ is left behind. It is thought that CBD can make a memory trace more flexible when the memory is recalled. That flexibility allows a user to modify the memory or get rid of it all together. This is known as consolidating a memory.
Amnestic drugs are drugs that cause amnesia. They are sometime prescribed to drug addicts to get them to stop taking drugs. The idea is that the amnestic drug will take away the memory of how pleasurable it was for the addict to take the drugs he or she was addicted to. The hope is that this will eventually break the addiction all together.
It is believed that CBD might have the same effect for cigarette smokers.
CBD can reduce nicotine use by enabling the consumer to modify the memory enough so they won’t remember the pleasure associated with smoking. Keeping them with only the negatives. This way, when they start craving nicotine, they will have unpleasant associations that will help them make better choices.
Note, because of the way CBD affects the memory to reduce addictive behavior, it is also being looked at as a possible treatment for other types of drug addiction.
And while the way CBD effects memory could be an important part of why it can help reduce the nicotine habit, here are some other ways it can help smokers overcome their addiction.
CBD and Anxiety: As mentioned earlier, many people smoke as a direct response to stress and anxiety. CBD can help reduce anxiety limiting the need for smokers to smoke.
5-HT1A is a subtype of the serotonin receptor that can be enhanced by the administration of CBD. Medical experts believe that anxiety and depression can be treated by medications that target the serotonin system. SSRIs like Prozac and Zoloft work by blocking reabsorption of serotonin in the synaptic space. This help the brain transmit more serotonin signals to reduce anxiety and boost mood.
Interestingly enough, once smokers become addicted to cigarettes, they are needed to boost serotonin and dopamine in the brain providing a similar result to what SSRIs offer.
Well guess what else can boost serotonin in the brain? That’s right, CBD! It is unclear how CBD works in the body to reduce anxiety, but it is believed that it interacts with the CB receptors involved in the modulation of serotonin to produce calming effects.
There have been many studies that provides strong evidence that CBD may be effective in reducing anxiety.
One study published in Frontiers of Pharmacology showed that CBD minimized anxiety in those about to engage in public speaking. In another study, Spanish researchers found that CBD enhances 5-HT1A transmission and may be even more effective than SSRIs when it comes to reducing depression and anxiety.
The Physical Pleasure of Smoking: When people become addicted to smoking, it is not just a mental addiction, it is a physical addiction. They become addicted to the smoking ritual; taking smoke breaks, putting a cigarette in their mouths and intaking smoke.
A lot of people who want to reduce their nicotine intake start vaping. Vaping is generally less harmful than smoking, but for the most part, products that are vaped do contain nicotine.
Well, CBD can be vaped as well. CBD is completely harmless and for the most part, beneficial to most people. It is a great way to relax and enjoy the physical act of smoking without the harmful side effects.
Although vaping CBD can be a great way to reduce nicotine intake, there are other ways of taking CBD can also be effective. Under the tongue methods, in particular, have been shown to be effective in studies.
CBD and Weight Loss: Many people smoke to maintain weight. Although we would like to think that cigarettes have only negative consequences, studies have shown that nicotine can be effective as an appetite suppressant. Though it has long been thought that cigarettes have this effect due to how they work with receptors to provide similar rewards benefits that food stimulates, it may go a bit deeper than this.
A study conducted by behavioral neuroscientist Marina Picciotto of Yale University researched mice to determine whether activating a particular nicotine receptor had an antidepressant effect. During the study, she noticed that, as a side effect, the nicotine also acted as an appetite suppressant allowing mice to drop 15 – 20 % of body fat over 30 days.
Now, before you decide to become a cigarette smoker to lose weight, there is some good news. CBD is a much safer option that can also be effective for weight management.
Humans have two types of fat, white fat and brown fat. White fat is the type of fat you see. It sits under our skin and around our organs. Excess white fat can lead to all sort of health risks including heart disease, stroke and insulin resistance.
Brown fat, on the other hand, speeds up our metabolism. Studies have shown that CBD turns white fat to brown fat. It also boosts the number of mitochondria we have in our bodies increasing energy burn and further speeding up the metabolism to increase weight loss.
Another way CBD aids in weight loss is in its ability to work as an appetite suppressant. This may come as a surprise as many know that it’s sister cannabinoid, THC increases appetite. However, CBD has the opposite effect. This has been proven in an animal study conducted in 2016 where animals given the compound fed less often.
Even though much has been done to raise awareness concerning the dangers of smoking, it continues to be the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Every year, over 480,000 Americans die from smoking related causes.
Don’t become another statistic. If you smoke, instead of running out for another pack of cigarettes, think about checking out CBD instead. Not only can it make you leave this habit behind forever, it can provide other health benefits that can improve your quality of life. Replace your unhealthy habits with one that will boost your wellbeing and allow you to enjoy the level of health you deserve.