New research suggests that CBD — an active ingredient of cannabis — could help chain smokers kick the tobacco habit.
Most people are more familiar with THC, or the compound in marijuana that makes you high. But CDB is the less famous, non-intoxicating cousin that has shown promise in treating pain, anxiety, and epilepsy.
Our medicinal-grade Indica strains contain CBD and are an effective way for you to relieve stress and insomnia. More than that, experts suggest that it could serve as a novel treatment for tobacco addiction.
The Science Behind Addiction
The human brain has a reward system based on dopamine. Dopamine is a complex neurotransmitter that is powerful enough to create cravings. These cravings for food, water, or social interactions, for instance, are what help you survive. And giving into these cravings leads to sensations of pleasure.
When the brain starts to identify rewarding experiences (such as eating, drinking, or smoking) it is possible for you to start developing habits out of them. And that’s when addiction starts to form: excessive food, alcohol, or cigarettes could increase the flow of dopamine in the brain.
In turn, this could rewire the brain and cause addiction in vulnerable people.
CBD: A Possible Treatment for Nicotine Cravings
Different substances interact with the brain’s dopamine reward system in different ways, though.
Nicotine temporarily stimulates dopamine production, heightening feelings of pleasure after a smoke. But a study published in Addiction shows that CBD can reduce the “attentional bias” of smokers to tobacco-related imagery.
Attentional bias happens when you pay attention to certain stimuli or cues while ignoring others. For instance, a smoker may watch an old French film, and the images of smoking in the movie could encourage them to light up.
In the study, the participants abstained from smoking for 12 hours and ingested 800 mg of CBD or a placebo. The researchers then showed them images of ashtrays and lighters, as well as smoking- and non-smoking related photos.
Participants who took CBD did not have a significant impact on cravings or withdrawal. But these they reported finding cigarette cues less appealing.
In other words, CBD can encourage nicotine withdrawal in smokers, such as the attentional bias to smoking cues. It does not, however, affect cognition or impulsiveness associated with nicotine withdrawal. The possible explanation behind it is that the researchers only gave the participants a single dose of the drug.
Nevertheless, the findings support the potential of using CBD to target neurocognitive processes associated with nicotine.
Building on the Potential of CBD
The researchers clarify that while CBD holds promise in curbing nicotine cravings, there is still a need for clinical trials with larger samples and longer follow-up periods, with a goal of getting people to quit smoking, for good.
Future studies should consider the route of administration of CBD, as well. This includes whether participants ingest the cannabis via vaporizers, joints, edibles, or some other form.
Since scientists are still trying to figure out how cannabis interacts with the brain, the country can start by strategizing and implementing health policies that make sense for the marijuana industry. After the legalization of recreational pot in Canada, there should be a renewed focus on cannabis and its impact on other substances, especially tobacco and alcohol.
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