Monday July 29, 2019

By Andrew Ward

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Cigarette smoking continues to affect millions each year. Despite smoking declining from 20.9% in 2005 to 14% in 2014, an estimated 34.3 million adults in America still smoke tobacco, according to the Center for Disease Control. 16 million live with a disease derived from smoking. In the U.S., smoking remains the leading cause of preventable diseases and deaths in the country. Cigarette smoking continues across both genders and all age groups, with only slight variations among them. Data also found that 480,000 annual deaths in America are caused by smoking. This results in nearly 20% of the deaths in the country each year. Some of the more common conditions brought on by cigarette smoke include cancer to the lungs, throat and other regions, as well as other severe conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

For years, people have attempted to curtail their nicotine consumption using everything from gum and patches to hypnosis. Now, a growing number are turning to CBD. Is it a viable method, or an example of people inaccurately labeling CBD as a miracle drug?


CBD and Smoking: What Does Research Say?

Like various other cannabis-related subjects, CBD’s efficacy on cigarette smoking is still debated. The topic lacks substantial clinical studies to verify its true potential. That said, people do not have to rely on anecdotes alone. A few studies in recent years have some believing that there is clinical studies proving CBD’s effect on nicotine consumption.

CBD has shown to help reduce cigarette and tobacco cravings. photo credit

Many point towards a 2018 study which found that CBD can lessen the attentional bias in tobacco-centric images. In short, images of smoking won't trigger a person to want to have a smoke themselves. Despite the lessening attention bias, the study went on to add that participants noticed little to no impact on their cravings or withdrawals. Though the test is only in its early stages and additional research is required. The lead author of the study, Chandni Hindocha, explained to Vice that they did not want to further the narrative that CBD can treat everything. “I very much disagree with this and I don't think that people should take away from my study that they could start taking their own CBD oil and it will help them with their cigarette addiction.”

The 2018 study builds off similar findings from other analyses. A 2013 double blind pilot study of the endocannabinoid system in nicotine addiction produced significant results as well. It found that CBD had the potential to treat nicotine addiction.

In this case, participants who used CBD saw a sizable drop in cigarettes smoked during their treatment, seeing a roughly 40% decline.

An April 2015 review of evidence explored how cannabidiol acted as an intervention for addictive behaviors. It noted that "CBD is an exogenous cannabinoid that acts on several neurotransmission systems involved in addiction." It went on to note that both animal and human studies have shown promise in providing therapeutic relief. The report stated, "CBD has several therapeutic properties on its own that could indirectly be useful in the treatment of addiction disorders, such as its protective effect on stress vulnerability and neurotoxicity."

Clinical psychologist and doctor of pharmacology José Carlos Bouso has conducted studies using cannabis as well as MDMA and other substances. Bouso wrote that addiction goes beyond the cravings, as withdrawal symptoms occur after the nicotine desire fades – often driving a person back to smoking. He also noted that many stop smoking after using a vape. He posits, "It is therefore possible that cannabis and/or CBD inhaled by some means other than smoking might be of use for people who want to quit smoking."

CBD Products to Help Quit Smoking

As Bouso points out, vaping and smoking CBD may be the two best choices to start with. Not only could the CBD provide consumers with near-instant effects, but the acts associated with each method of consumption should also feel familiar to the consumer. They are likely to find relief in similar actions and rituals that come from vaping or smoking and associate it with their past routines when smoking nicotine.

Vaping CBD
Vaporizing CBD could be an effective tobacco replacement.

Consumers may find luck in other products as well. CBD infused gum, not to be confused with nicotine-addiction gums like Nicorette, could give the person CBD and provide some type of oral relief as well. The same can be said for edibles, especially longer-lasting items like hard candies or mints.


Keep in Mind…

CBD may very well serve as a viable nicotine addiction treatment. It also may prove to be inaccurate. While studies do show promise, we must tread lightly when branding anything cannabis-related as a cure. Many companies jump on making such statements, only to have consumers loudly echo those findings if they or a few people they know find success in the “treatment.”

Don’t assume CBD will treat nicotine addiction, but understand that it might. A handful of findings may lead to more conclusive evidence one day. In the meantime, monitor the testimonies of others and decide what works best for you or your loved ones. If possible, consider speaking to a medical professional before making any decisions – remember, cannabis affects everyone differently!

Have you ever used CBD to help you quit smoking tobacco products? Share your experience in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Антон Воробьев (license)

Andrew Ward Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer and creative. His work has appeared on Benzinga, High Times, PROHBTD and several other publications and brand blogs. He has covered the cannabis space for over three years, and has written professionally since 2011. His first book, "Cannabis Jobs," was released in October 2019. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn to stay up to date.

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