Cannabidiol (CBD) may be able to help cigarette smokers quit the habit by curbing nicotine cravings. Scientists at Washington State University recently published a study indicating that the cannabinoid reduced nicotine cravings by inhibiting an enzyme that is associated with nicotine processing.
CBD is part of a class of compounds called cannabinoids that are produced by plants in the cannabis family. But unlike THC, the cannabinoid that gives cannabis its psychoactive effects, cannabidiol has no psychoactive properties. Research has instead revealed that CBD has potent medicinal properties that can be effective against a wide variety of medical conditions.
This recent study looked at how CBD affected the metabolism of nicotine, the compound that makes tobacco cigarettes addictive. Researchers found that CBD was able to help tobacco users quit by inhibiting the action of a key enzyme. When senior study author Philip Lazarus and his colleagues analyzed liver tissue and microsomes from specialized cell lines, they discovered that CBD inhibited CYP2A6, a key enzyme in the metabolism of nicotine, as well as several other relevant enzymes.
Prior research has shown that CYP2A6 is responsible for more than 70% of nicotine metabolism in most tobacco users. The cannabinoid inhibited CYP2A6’s processing of nicotine by a whopping 50% even at relatively low concentrations, suggesting a rather strong impact on the enzyme.
Lazarus surmised that you wouldn’t need to take much CBD to see the enzyme-inhibiting effect. By slowing down the metabolism of nicotine, CBD could extend the time a smoker needs before they feel the need to inhale nicotine again; consequently, smokers could end up smoking less often.
Noting that most of the negative effects of smoking come from the chemicals and carcinogens in tobacco smoke, Lazarus explained that minimizing the harm from smoking would undoubtedly be a “great thing for human health.”
With one in five people reportedly dying every year in the United States due to smoking-related illnesses, smoking still presents a significant health problem. Alternative methods of consuming nicotine to avoid smoking, such as snuff, chew and vaping, are just as dangerous and can cause serious illnesses such as cancer.
Lazarus and his team are now working to develop a clinical study aimed at determining the effect of cannabidiol on nicotine levels in tobacco users. The research team hopes to run a larger study on the relationship between nicotine addiction and CBD after that.
The federally funded study was published in the “Chemical Research in Toxicology” journal. It was carried out with the support of the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences.
Given how beneficial different cannabinoids are being found to be, it is a pity that companies in the marijuana industry don’t have ready access to traditional banking institutions in order to scale their operations; instead, these companies must scramble for the funding.
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