How Can CBD Oil Help You Quit Smoking?
With even half a glance at the news today and you're probably knee-deep in an article about CBD being a miracle cure. Many claim the cannabinoid compound as a super remedy for everything from sleepless nights to regrowing arms and legs (please note our sarcasm here). Of course, we don't believe in miracles, but we do think there are benefits to cannabidiol that can help with some issues of the mind and body. Is smoking addiction one of them? Read on to find out.
Cigarettes & Smoking - The Facts
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, and most smokers will incite a level of physical dependence based on their tobacco use. Since the advent of mass production, many cigarette companies have added more chemicals to their products, making them as addictive as possible - all with the intention of getting you hooked. It's not a great look for the tobacco industry.
Today, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death globally. Each year, roughly 78,000 people in the UK die from smoking and many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses (emphysema, diabetes and heart disease, to name just a few of these "merry" issues). So why is it so difficult to quit?
What causes addiction?
Chemical dependency is, in simplest terms, the body's normal reaction to addictive chemicals. It occurs when neurons (the basic working units of the brain) in the brain adapt to frequent drug exposure and begin to only function normally in the presence of the drug. When the drug is removed from your system, several physiological reactions occur. These can be mild (e.g., caffeine) or life-threatening (e.g., alcohol). The symptoms are usually on the moderate side for frequent users of cigarettes and tobacco, but the symptoms are longer-lasting.
An often-overlooked element of smoking is behavioural addiction and situational triggers. In essence, this is the cliche that "old habits die hard" turned up to the max. If you've sought to quit before and you're still trying (just FYI, studies have shown it can take an average of 30 times to stop smoking), you'll know routine can play a massive role in making you want to smoke (cigarettes and a pint, anyone?). This is just one of the reasons vapes are so popular with ex-tobacco smokers. The old ritual of inhaling continues, but the cigarette is replaced with a vape pen.
So, what happens when you stop smoking?
The comedown from quitting cigarettes can vary significantly based on your body's chemical dependence on nicotine and how you deal with the learned behaviours of smoking. Some of the more common physical and psychological withdrawals include:
- Irritability and impatience
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Nausea and abdominal cramping
- Slowed heart rate
How long do nicotine cravings last?
Your nicotine withdrawals and cravings will depend on whether you're a light or heavy smoker. Symptoms can arise anywhere between a couple of hours and twenty-four hours since your last cigarette. Symptoms typically hit their peak by the third day and gradually lessen in intensity. While these cravings won't last forever, they can be an incredibly frustrating and challenging process, lasting up to a month.
Does CBD help with quitting smoking? The Studies.
As we've mentioned in other articles, CBD research is still in its early phases but so far, the results look promising of cannabidiol being used for smoking cessation.
One of the largest studies into CBD and addiction is from across the Atlantic with The Cannabis Radar. This 700-person study indicated that 42% of participants were able to abstain from cigarettes by using cannabidiol. It was further remarked that short-term and long-term CBD use, the potential to stop was higher amongst participants aged 25-35. However, as the conclusion of the study suggests, the research was not without its limitations as the results were based on a social media group and were not held in a controlled environment.
An initial controlled study carried out by the Beckley and Exeter Research Programme observed that cannabidiol helped users reduce the number of cigarettes smoked by as much as 40% across the course of several weeks following treatment. The organisation is now developing the next study to include a brain imaging component to assess the brain activity patterns underlying the potential therapeutic effects of CBD.
So how might CBD help with kicking the habit?
Cannabidiol and the other cannabinoids work together to create the entourage effect, which is thought to help create balance in the mind and body. This can potentially help:
- Reduce attention (and so desire) on smoking
- Reduced cravings and nicotine-seeking behaviours due to withdrawal symptoms
Our thoughts on CBD and quitting smoking
Speaking with the ex-smokers in the V&YOU team, we've found that there really is no magic bullet to quitting smoking. Smoking aids and cessation tools can help, but essentially, you'll need the willpower to overcome addiction. Nicotine patches and gums work for some people (one study found they had a cigarette abstinence success rate at six months of 22%(vs 9% with placebo). In addition, some have found a mix of this with CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) to be helpful. Others read a single Allen Carr book and stop immediately.
Some of us are still getting used to the habit of "not smoking" - not reaching for cigarettes when we get in the car, head out for a drink or sit reading through a min-numbingly boring Excel spreadsheet. We've written extensively on tips for quitting.
In the end, you'll need to decide what's right for you, but one of the notable aspects of CBD is that it can work in tandem with any of these smoking cessation tools. So, if you think CBD can help with the quitting process, what have you got to lose?