Can CBD Help Reduce Nicotine Cravings?

Stephen Andrews
24 Mar 2023

Weed might help some heavy drinkers reduce their alcohol intake, but what about heavy smokers cutting down on cigarettes? A recent study appears to suggest that CBD has the power to help tobacco users quit by staving off nicotine cravings.

A new federally funded study published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology examined the effects of CBD on the metabolism of nicotine, the main addictive component in tobacco products. 

The study, which was carried out by researchers at Washington State University (WSU), found that the non-intoxicating cannabinoid significantly inhibited a key enzyme associated with the processing of nicotine in the body, which could reduce cravings. 

"The whole mission is to decrease harm from smoking, which is not from the nicotine per se, but all the carcinogens and other chemicals that are in tobacco smoke," said Philip Lazarus, WSU professor of pharmaceutical sciences, who took part in the research. "If we can minimize that harm, it would be a great thing for human health," he said in a statement

The study looked at liver tissue and microsomes derived from specialized cell lines. It showed that CBD suppressed multiple relevant enzymes, among them the primary enzyme that processes nicotine, known as CYP2A6. Even a low dose of Cannabidiol that was administered as part of the tests inhibited the enzyme's processing of the chemical by half. 

"In other words, it appears that you don't need much CBD to see the effect," said Lazarus.

The researchers add that more clinical trials are needed to confirm these effects of CBD in the human body and to determine dosage levels. Nevertheless, the initial findings already show promise. 

The study concludes that the chemical reaction that happens between CBD and the nicotine-related enzymes in the body leads to "increased plasma nicotine levels per cigarette smoked and a reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked, thus diminishing the adverse health effects of smoking." 

The same team of scientists is preparing to do additional research related to CBD and nicotine. One of the clinical trials the team will be working on will analyze the effects of CBD on nicotine levels in smokers, measuring nicotine in the blood of smokers versus smokers who will take a placebo. 

Cigarette smoking remains a significant health problem in the U.S. It's estimated that one in five persons dies every year from smoking-related causes. While often perceived as less harmful, other nicotine delivery methods, such as vapes, chews, and snuffs, also contain chemicals that can harm human health. 

Stephen Andrews