CAN CBD HELP WITH NICOTINE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS?
Evidence indicates that CBD oil could help with nicotine withdrawal symptoms and withdrawal from other substances, too. One study showed that CBD taken when feeling a craving to smoke reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by around 40%. Another study found CBD stopped all physical signs of withdrawal in nicotine addicted rats. One other study found CBD reduced the attentional bias toward cigarette cues.
The recent understanding of the human ‘endocannabinoid system’ has opened up a new world of potential treatments for a wide variety of health problems due to the integrity of the endocannabinoid system to our bodies’ functionality.
The endocannabinoid system has influence across our entire body, regulating neurotransmitters - the body’s chemical messengers - that are used to do everything from contracting muscles, to sending our white blood cells where they need to go.
As nicotine withdrawal is a combination of effects, much of which is down to neurotransmitters, it is logical to suspect that cannabidiol CBD may positively impact nicotine withdrawal symptoms - which is why it is being investigated!
WHAT IS NICOTINE WITHDRAWAL?
Nicotine withdrawal is a result of a nicotine addiction. When you smoke cigarettes, the addictive substance ‘nicotine’ is absorbed into the bloodstream and is transported to the brain, where it occupies nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.
This causes the release of acetylcholine, the primary neurotransmitter of the parasympathetic nervous system - this controls smooth muscle contraction, blood vessel dilation, slowing of the heart rate, and increases bodily secretions. Over time, smoking increases the number of acetylcholine receptors in the brain.
The release of acetylcholine leads to increased activity in the brain, as well as increasing the amount of dopamine - the brain’s reward chemical - that is released. This reinforces the behaviour of smoking because the reward pathways are activated when you smoke.
Glutamate is another neurotransmitter whose release is triggered by nicotine. Glutamate plays a role in strengthening the communication between neurons, helping to shape memory and learning. This may be the reason smokers find smoking improves their ability to think, or a lack of smoking slows their cognition.
When you stop smoking cigarettes, the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors that are ‘used to’ being activated by nicotine no longer have nicotine coming into the body - this means less dopamine and glutamate are released. This translates to feeling ‘brain fog’ where it’s harder to collect your thoughts, and feelings of anxiety and feeling low or depression occur frequently.
There are also physical withdrawal symptoms that result from tobacco addiction, and these could be disturbed sleep or insomnia, a persistent cough, constipation - all of which improve over time, but can make the first few days of smoking cessation a real challenge!
HOW DOES CBD HELP WITH NICOTINE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS?
Quitting smoking is tough due to the impact that withdrawal can have on an individual; keeping you awake for longer at night, feeling anxious and depressed and restless, all impacting your ability to sleep well, which in turn magnifies the effects the following day - and so it repeats until the symptoms reduce and pass.
CBD oil has been seen to reduce the degradation of anandamide, an endocannabinoid nicknamed ‘the bliss chemical’. This can help increase feelings of happiness and wellbeing, which could help to improve mood and reduce stress during a quit attempt.
Anandamide also induces sleep by increasing levels of adenosine - a key mediator in sleep regulation - and so CBD may help those struggling with withdrawal symptoms at bed time. Sleeping well is key to maintaining physical and mental health, so making sure you are getting good sleep is one of the best things you can do for a good tomorrow!
STUDIES AND EVIDENCE
A 2018 study examined the effect of CBD versus a placebo in thirty non-treatment-seeking human subjects who smoked. The study examined ‘attentional bias’ using tobacco cues in picture form, assessing withdrawal, craving, side effects, heart rate and blood pressure.
The study found that CBD reduced the impact of attentional bias towards the cigarette cues, and reduced the perceived pleasantness of the cigarette images. While CBD did not appear to impact craving and withdrawal, it did reduce systolic blood pressure - the force of the heart exerting on arterial walls when it beats.
Increased blood pressure can lead to anxiety, and those feelings can be a trigger to start smoking again. CBD products could help to manage blood pressure, as well as reduce the impact visual smoking cues have on a smoker trying to quit cigarettes.
An earlier study, conducted in 2013, looked at how CBD works on smokers that wanted to quit over the course of a week. Using a CBD inhaler, the participants were told to use the inhaler when they felt the urge to smoke. Those given CBD saw a reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked by approximately 40%. This study suggests that CBD could play a role in reducing overall cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
A recent 2021 animal study backed these results up by looking at the effect of CBD administered to nicotine addicted rats, finding that CBD stopped all physical signs of nicotine withdrawal exhibited by the rats.
EXPERIENCE IN USING CBD FOR NICOTINE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS
Using CBD to help deal with withdrawal symptoms should be safe for most people - CBD is well tolerated in most individuals, with the most important factor to note is the drug interactions that CBD can cause.
As CBD impacts liver enzymes, and the liver is responsible for processing most medications, CBD can impact a medication’s effect by changing how much of it is processed by the liver, potentially leading to a higher dose, or lower dose, than needed for effective treatment. It would be a great idea to speak with a doctor or healthcare professional if you are thinking of using CBD but have a liver condition, or take medication.
There are a few other things to be aware of when using CBD, including potential side effects like changes in appetite, dry mouth, drowsiness, fatigue and diarrhoea. The FDA in the United States advises that pregnant and nursing women do not take CBD as it could cause foetal mortality and negatively impact a developing baby.
BEST TYPE OF CBD FOR NICOTINE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS
The best CBD product for you to use for nicotine withdrawal is likely to be a form of Broad Spectrum or Full Spectrum CBD, as opposed to CBD isolate. These different forms of CBD product contain different compounds from the hemp plant (cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC).
CBD isolate products contain the single cannabinoid CBD. Broad spectrum CBD products contain CBD along with all the other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids that are found in the hemp plant, with the exception of the psychoactive component - tetrahydrocannabinol or ‘THC’.
Full spectrum CBD products contain all of the compounds found in the hemp plant, including the THC, but due to the nature of hemp plants, the THC content in Full Spectrum CBD products is usually too low to intoxicate.
So why the different forms of CBD product? CBD is the compound that acts on the various receptors in our body, but the chemicals found in the cannabis plant appear to enhance the activity of one another. This is called the ‘entourage effect’, and won’t be seen in CBD isolate products.
Choosing between full spectrum and broad spectrum products is fairly straightforward and can be answered in one question - do you want to avoid THC?
In the UK, CBD products can have no more than 1mg in any pack, so the levels should be too low to intoxicate, but prolonged use may see a positive drug test if required by your employer, or sports board. If you need to avoid THC, but still want to get the maximum benefit from your CBD product with the ‘entourage effect’, then broad spectrum CBD is the product for you.
Make sure to check reviews when purchasing your CBD - one study lab tested online bought CBD products and found only about 31% were accurately labelled, which could make dosing inaccurate if you buy a product that is mislabelled.
Getting the dose right may be something that takes a little time. Studies have used a wide range of different doses with varying degrees of effect. One study used doses of 150mg, 300mg and 600mg, and found that only the 300mg dose of CBD reduced the subjects anxiety - these doses are in the same ballpark as those recommended for Epidiolex, the only FDA approved CBD based medicine.
Another study focusing on anxiety and sleep used significantly lower doses, ranging from 25mg per day to 175mg per day, with most participants taking 25mg per day. This study saw fatigue as the only side effect, suggesting that the low doses can be effective, and could avoid most negative side effects more associated with higher doses of CBD.
This information tells us that more studies need to be done on CBD to establish dosing for particular ailments, or for the greatest general effect. If you plan on using a CBD product, start with a small dose taken twice or three times a day, then increase in small increments as required.
CAN CBD HELP WITH NICOTINE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS CONCLUSION
Simply put, CBD could help with nicotine withdrawal symptoms; many users have reported an easing of cravings and other withdrawal symptoms when using CBD to quit smoking, and results from studies suggest CBD has great potential in this area.
If you are looking for ways to ease your withdrawal from nicotine, be sure to get your CBD from a reputable company, so check out customer reviews online, and see what information the company provides on their CBD product.
The great thing about the CBD products available is they may help distract or satiate cravings as well as deliver CBD into the body - vaping CBD e-liquid, chewing on CBD gummies or using CBD oral drops might be the secret weapon you’ve been looking for!
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