In 2018 there were almost 38 million smokers in America, despite health warnings plastered around every corner. It’s no secret that tobacco poses a whole number of health risks, and millions try to quit every year.
We’re introduced to new ways to quit the habit constantly – sweets, e-cigarettes, nicotine patches, even therapy. And now, CBD oil.
CBD is a specific substance derived from cannabis. It’s used to treat everything from anxiety to heart disease without the high of smoking cannabis.
This is because CBD or cannabidiol is free from THC, the substance in cannabis which gives mind-altering effects.
How is CBD oil consumed?
CBD oil can be taken orally in an aim to quit smoking by putting a few drops in the mouth.
This is said to be one of the most effective ways of receiving the benefits of the substance quickly.
Another way to consume orally is through edible products.
It is advised that if users do not feel the urge to smoke after five months of CBD use, then it is considered acceptable to stop taking the oil. If the urge to smoke sparks up again, the individual can begin use of CBD again without risk.
But can it actually do as some claim, and really help people to quit smoking tobacco?
Placebo test proved CBD works against the odds
Scientists working on one study published by PubMed conducted a pilot, randomized and double-blind placebo-controlled study. The group aimed to assess the impact of CBD use in smokers who wanted to stop smoking. Out of the group, 24 smokers were randomized to receive a CBD inhaler or a placebo for one week.
The smokers were told to use the inhaler when they felt the urge to smoke. Over the week, those using the placebo inhaled showed no changes in the number of cigarettes smoked.
In contrast, those treated with CBD inhales significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by up to 40%. Results also indicated that some decided to continue with this method of quitting at follow-up.
The group concluded that this study made room for teams to further investigate CBD oil when it comes to quitting smoking.
The study did, however, see that at day 7 was reached, the anxiety levels of the placebo and CBD users did not differ. It also found that the use of CBD did not increase depression. The group noticed the inhalers may have weakened the attentional bias that comes with smoking, or could have destabilized drug-related memories.
Side effects are ‘better’
We’re all aware that smoking can lead to lung cancer, throat cancer, respiratory diseases, anxiety, high cholesterol, cervical cancer, and even infertility.
This safety update from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health claims that in comparison to other drugs, CBD has a much better panel of side effects.
In addition, according to one article on Healthcare Weekly, the most commonly reported side effects of CBD use are fatigue, diarrhea, and changes in appetite and/or weight, These, it claims, are much easier to deal with and treat than the side effects that come with taking other substances or smoking.
CBD can produce the same ‘feelings’ as smoking
The pleasure cell dopamine is triggered by nicotine in smokers whenever they choose to have a cigarette. This is why many believe they feel much more relaxed, and their brains less foggy after smoking.
CBD oil can also produce dopamine, thanks to natural endocannabinoids in our bodies. This can make a smoker feel fulfilled and at ease in the same way that smoking tobacco does. This means that smokers are able to wean themselves off smoking without feeling that mental pressure or stress that so many others do.
The oil has a way of calming the body’s nervous system like nothing else, meaning fewer people will be reaching for a cigarette after a long day and will reach for CBD instead.
Could remove stimuli
A study published in Addiction by researchers at the University College London experimented with the effect of certain stimuli on smoker’s brains.
Many find that watching films with characters who smoke, or certain environments such as nightclubs can make them crave tobacco.
It has also been proved that smokers tend to focus more on these cues than any others.
This study found that by giving 30 dependant smokers just a single 800-mg oral dose of cannabidiol reduced the salience and pleasantness of cigarette cues compared with a placebo. This was done after an overnight 12-hour cigarette abstinence.
Comparatively, it found that cannabidiol did not influence tobacco craving or withdrawal or any subjectively rated side effects.
The bottom line
As CBD is now legal, many may find that if other treatments to quit smoking haven’t worked for them, then this may be worth a try.
The side effects (as studied so far) are much milder than smoking, and the chemicals released by CBD have similar effects on the brain to nicotine, which makes the oil a great alternative to cigarettes.
It is clear from the calling of the few CBD oil studies around that there is a need for further investigation. It is hard to say at this point if CBD will help all smokers, as many loosely monitored CBD companies are making claims to support and market their products.
Once more has been done over longer periods of time, we will be able to see not only if CBD helps people to quit tobacco, but if it helps them to quit long term, too.