A person pulling a cigarette from a pack.Share on Pinterest
CBD may be able to help people quit smoking by reducing cravings and easing anxiety. Taylor Swartz/Stocksy United
  • Research from Washington State University suggests that low concentrations of CBD could inhibit the metabolism of nicotine in tobacco smokers.
  • The researchers tested enzymes associated with nicotine metabolism and concluded that CBD could cut cigarette cravings.
  • CBD may help someone stop smoking for several reasons, including anxiety reduction, lower cravings, and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Experts believe CBD may offer a non-addictive substitute, but suggest using it alongside other methods when trying to quit smoking.

If you’ve decided to quit smoking it can be difficult to know where to begin. Do you try nicotine patches, hypnosis, or simply go cold turkey? New research suggests that CBD may be able to help.

The study, conducted by a team of Washington State University researchers found that CBD – the non-psychoactive component of cannabis – could inhibit the metabolism of nicotine. The researchers tested CBD on microsomes from human liver tissue and specialized cell lines to see how it influenced nicotine metabolism.

The team found that several of these enzymes, including CYP2A6 – a major one for nicotine metabolism – were inhibited, leading them to conclude that CBD could curb the urge for a cigarette.

Research suggests that more than 70% of nicotine is metabolized by this particular enzyme and that it could be inhibited by relatively low doses of CBD.

Jon Robson, CEO and founder of medical cannabis clinic Mamedica, believes CBD has the potential to be a non-addictive substitute for cigarettes and could help people quit smoking in a number of ways, including:

Ease stress and anxiety

CBD is often used to ease anxiety, and Robson says this can be particularly beneficial for smokers. “CBD has been shown to have anxiolytic effects, meaning that it can reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. By reducing anxiety, CBD may help people cope with the withdrawal symptoms that can occur when quitting smoking,” he says.

If smoking has been long used as a crux to manage stress and anxiety, a reduction in these feelings may see people reaching for a cigarette less and less as well.

CBD products for anxiety

Looking for a CBD product to help ease symptoms of anxiety? Here are some of Healthline’s top picks:

Was this helpful?

Reduce nicotine cravings

“CBD may also help with craving reduction,” says Robson. “CBD has been shown to have a potential as a treatment for drug addiction, and may help reduce cravings for nicotine,” he says.

Vaporized CBD in particular may be a good alternative. As users must inhale the vapor, they are mimicking the action of smoking; a habit they might repeat several times a day. In this way, CBD could become a replacement for the repetitive motion of smoking.

Reduce inflammation

In addition, CBD has anti-inflammatory effects, which are beneficial to your overall health and may make quitting easier.

“Chronic smoking can lead to inflammation and damage to the lungs, which can make quitting smoking even more difficult,” Robson explains. “The anti-inflammatory properties in CBD may help to reduce inflammation and promote healing in the lungs.”

One concern, of course, is that by using CBD to quit smoking, you’re simply replacing one harmful habit with another.

Robson says these fears are unfounded, noting that CBD side effects are often mild and temporary and that the substance is not harmful or addictive.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that CBD “exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential” in humans,” he notes. “Additionally, subsequent reviews of CBD safety and side effects have found that CBD has a “favorable safety profile” and is well-tolerated in humans.”

Therefore, CBD could be an effective method of replacing a habit without becoming habit-forming itself. Of course, this new research is only one study and further research is needed to explore CBD as a quitting smoking tool.

A controlled study published in 2013 found that consumption of cannabidiol reduced cigarette consumption in tobacco smokers. Participants who were treated with CBD significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by 40% during treatment, and some maintained this new frequency at a follow-up.

Abbas Kanani, a pharmacist from online pharmacy Chemist Click, says that while the current studies are certainly “promising”, the theory needs to be further tested in smokers to see if it can actually help people stop smoking for good.

Robson agrees. “There are a few possible avenues to facilitate our understanding of how CBD can be used effectively to help people quit smoking, including clinical trials or comparative and long-term studies,” he says.

If you’re thinking about quitting smoking, you might be wondering what methods are beneficial, either alongside or without CBD. Kanani says Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) might help.

“NRT is a medicine that offers a low level of nicotine, without the tar, carbon monoxide, and other poisonous chemicals present in tobacco smoke. It can be effective in reducing unpleasant withdrawal effects, like bad moods and cravings, and is available as skin patches, chewing gum, mouth sprays, and more,” he explains.

Counseling can also improve your chances of quitting for good. Kanani says this can be particularly effective when combined with other stop-smoking treatments, like NRT.

Likewise, you shouldn’t underestimate the support of family and friends. Making any lifestyle change comes with its challenges, and letting others in on your goals may allow you to more successfully navigate them.

“You should inform those close to you that you may be irritable, experience symptoms of depression or just generally not be yourself as you go through withdrawal,” Kanani advises.

“You might also be tempted to smoke in social situations and the more people that know about your goals, the better chance you have of them reminding you and helping you along the way,” he says.

As for CBD, the news that it may help you quit smoking is certainly promising, but changing your habits rarely requires just one treatment or lifestyle tweak.

Often it requires a multi-pronged approach, which includes looking at the reasons why you smoke and changing your environment to support you.