Can CBD be a cure for nicotine withdrawal?

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Cannabidiol, known affectionately as CBD, can help break nicotine addiction, but can it also help one get through withdrawal periods? The answer is a little more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no”.

CBD works with endocannabinoid system in the body and is known to affect serotonin receptors and others that are known to play a role in addictive behaviors. Although THC is the most well-known cannabinoid, unlike THC, CBD is non-psychotropic in nature with little to no side-effects.

It seems with every year passing, more and more benefits are being attributed to CBD. A compound with many medical benefits and little to no side-effects, of course is an extremely attractive topic for medical research.

One interesting benefit which has received more and more scientific attention lately, is CBD’s role as being a powerful treatment for addictions, especially nicotine and heroin related addictions.

Various studies have indicated that CBD has a good potential to interfere with all sorts of addictions.

Today, we’ll look specifically for CBD’s effect on tobacco addiction and withdrawal.

Nicotine addiction and withdrawal syndrome

Nicotine dependency is one of the major addictions plaguing society. According to statistics, more than 1 billion of the world’s population are smokers with a case of death occurring every 6 seconds due to nicotine related issues.

Also, nearly 600,000 people die every year from being subjected to second-hand smoke.

The health hazards caused by nicotine are immense and quitting can seems like the toughest job in the world thanks to the withdrawal syndrome typically accompanying the process.

The effects of and addiction to smoking are manifested in the brain through the pleasure principle.

Within seconds of smoking or vaping nicotine, the drug travels to the brain and activates the receptors to release the pleasure hormone, dopamine.

Dopamine produces a calm and happy sensation, reducing stress and anxiety levels. It doesn’t take long for the brain to start associating pleasure with the memory of nicotine intake.

But these sensations are short-lived. During this process, the number of nicotinic receptors in the brain increase, progressively requiring higher amounts of nicotine to get the same effect. This is known as tolerance after which addiction shortly follows.

Withdrawal happens when the body cleanses itself of the drug, and the stress and anxiety return making you crave another smoke.

If the addiction is strong, you may feel restless, irritable, depressed, and anxious. This is known as withdrawal syndrome.

CBD as a Cure for Nicotine Withdrawal?

Cannabidiol has been known to show some positive effects on subjects of nicotine addiction during nicotine withdrawal periods.

According to research conducted by the Clinical Pharmacology unit at the University College of London, CBD has shown to affect and reverse the attentional bias to cigarettes.

Attentional bias, in research, is a vital laboratory predictive marker of the salience of drug cues. It is heightened during the period of abstinence, and it predicts any short-term relapse. It is believed to play a causal role in maintaining addiction.

The research was conducted in 2013, and the results were published in the journal, Addictive Behaviors, more recently. The test welcomed thirty non-treatment seeking, dependent cigarette smokers as participants. Each participant was given 800 mg of oral CBD or matched placebo (PBO) in a counterbalanced order.

The test was conducted in three sessions over a particular period of time, during which, a double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over design was used to compare the effects of the administered dosage of CBD and PBO after overnight smoking abstinence.

All factors considered, the results showed CBD to reverse the effects of attentional bias to cigarette cues in abstinent smokers to a level where it was the same as when they were satiated.

This means that it alters the tendency of thinking that a remedial alternative would not work. Additionally, CBD manifestation was seen to reduce the pleasantness towards nicotine during the period of abstinence in the users. It was witnessed that the users rated cigarette stimuli to be less pleasant after CBD use than what the placebo achieved.

This suggests the possibility that CBD may have specifically affected the evaluative and motivational salience-reducing properties of drug cues, which seems to confirm earlier research conducted on similar topics.

One neuroimaging study suggests that cannabis modifies activities in certain areas of the brain that are significantly associated with salience attribution, such as the striatum, the prefrontal cortex, and the hippocampus.

It provides substantial rationale to hypothesize that CBD can be a potential treatment for substance use disorders where the prominence of drug is critical.

In the present examination, no significant side effects or psychoactive effects were observed. Thus, the results substantiated the potential of CBD in treating nicotine addiction.

CBD, Memory Consolidation, and Memory Trace

According to Dr. CJ Morgan, from the University College London, cannabis has shown the ability to alter memories associated with smoking. To understand this, we first have to know about “memory consolidation.”

When memories are initially formed, they are characterized as short-term memories. Over time, these short-term memories transition into long-term memories. During this transition, there is a “memory trace” that gets left behind.

For a nicotine addict, the brain associates the sensation of pleasure with the action of smoking. This is why an insatiable urge is created when a smoker sees or smells somebody smoking.

The brain craves for this action to take place in order to bring about dopamine-induced stress relief. The memory becomes so intense at this point in time that it becomes almost impossible to overlook and may create severe health complications in its wake.

CBD is thought to make this “memory trace” more flexible when a memory is recalled. This helps the user to either get rid of a particular memory or modify it. This is called “re-consolidating a memory.”

Amnestic drugs that are sometimes prescribed for drug addicts run on this very principle. The aim is to erase or modify the memory of the drug when the user experiences the intense craving for it.

At this point, the memory trace is flexible and makes way for the medication to intervene and alter the memory of the pleasurable sensations that were induced by the drug, making those memories less pleasurable for the user.

CBD can have a similar effect on nicotine addicts. Alternatively, cannabidiol may also remind the users of the negative aspects of the drugs, which makes them wary of drug usage in the future and facilitating reduction.


There’s no doubt about it:

CBD has potential to help you with tobacco/nicotine addiction and with the withdrawal period.

It is presently being used in the treatment of numerous health complications and can be used in forms of oral intakes, vapors, marijuana strains that contain large amounts of CBD and topical solutions.

Cannabidiol as a possible active treatment for nicotine and heroin addiction seems to be on the track of ushering in a bright future for the ones who are still fighting the battle with addiction.

Let’s hope it succeeds in doing so.

This aricle was written by: Winston Peki

Winston Peki is a marijuana enthusiast and vaporizer expert. Born and raised in Amsterdam, he grew up in a cannabis-friendly climate and learned quickly what a great ally this plant can be. He believes vaping cannabis and cannabis-based products is the easiest, safest and most straightforward alternative to smoking it. He is the Founder of Herbonaut, an informative vaporizer and cannabis-based products site where you can find vaporizer reviews, CBD oil reviews and more.

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