We hear a lot of positive news about the powers of cannabinoid and other compounds found in the cannabis plant. One of the cannabinoids that gets a majority of the attention is CBD, or cannabidiol. Marijuana may contain a chemical that can help fight cigarette addiction, according to new research out of Britain. Researchers at the University College London published an article last month in the journal Addictive Behaviors that found that a non-psychoactive chemical in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), given via inhaler could significantly reduce the number of cigarettes consumed by smokers that wanted to quit.
The study’s design was simple. While previous research suggests that CBD can help with a variety of drug addictions, the study was the first to investigate the effect of CBD on cigarette addiction in humans. 24 smokers were recruited and split into two groups, receiving inhalers containing CBD or placebo. Both groups were told to use the inhalers whenever they felt the urge to smoke during a one week period.
Those participants who were given the placebo inhaler saw no reduction in the amount of cigarettes they consumed during the treatment week. Meanwhile, the participants receiving CBD saw an average 40% decrease in their cigarette consumption.
“These preliminary data, combined with the strong preclinical rationale for use of this compound, suggest CBD to be a potential treatment for nicotine addiction that warrants further exploration,” wrote the study authors.
The study found that CBD helped reduce the prominence of subtle cues that may cause a smoker to get the urge to light a cigarettes. Similarly, the study authors think the compound may affect a memory process known as “reconsolidation.” This is when a memory of the reward of smoking is reactivated by simply seeing another person smoke.
The rationale behind studies like the one mentioned above are based on a growing consensus that CBD may help mitigate addictive behaviour.
In a 2015 review, researchers at Montreal University in Quebec, Canada, went over the evidence that suggests that CBD may help treat addictions. It reviewed 14 different studies, 9 of which were based on animals and 5 which were based on humans.
Addiction to any drug (be it alcohol, nicotine, heroin, or anything in between) is characterized by a strong desire to use a drug and a general loss of control over one’s consumption of it.
The endocannabinoid system has been shown to be involved in managing a wide variety of bodily processes. By activating certain cannabinoid receptors (especially CB1), previous research suggests that CBD can help alter the reward system in the brain, which is a key player in managing addiction. How CBD does this isn’t quite clear, and the review from researchers at Montreal University makes it clear that more research is needed to clarify CBD’s role in treating addiction
Although treatments for cigarette addiction are available today, researchers are still searching for more effective alternatives. CBD seems to be a promising candidate.