Marijuana may contain a chemical that can help fight cigarette addiction, according to new research out of Britain.
Researchers at the University College London 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.
Celia Morgan, Ph.D, who co-authored the study, explained that CBD may help in a number of ways. One way could be how it affects memories, or cues, that underlie the desire to smoke.
“We found that CBD seems to reduce the salience of cues. It also can reduce anxiety and may affect a memory process called ‘reconsolidation,’ which is where when a memory of the reward of smoking is re-activated by seeing someone smoking, it is rendered vulnerable to destruction.”
“CBD might mean these positive smoking memories are gradually erased,” Dr. Morgan adds.
The study was published last month in the journal Addictive Behaviors.
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.Inhaling CBD reduced cigarette consumption by 40% on average
The researchers found that while the placebo group showed no difference in their smoking habits, the group that received CBD reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked by 40% on average.
Although treatments for cigarette addiction are available today, researchers are still searching for more effective alternatives. CBD seems to be a promising candidate, but Dr. Morgan says its hard to draw a direct comparison with other therapies based on the results of her study.
“This (40%) was more than expected. However, it is difficult to compare to other smoking cessation therapies as we did not ask people to stop smoking, simply to try using the inhaler when they wanted a cigarette.”
The authors suggest that larger studies are needed to confirm the findings. Dr. Morgan says she is also conducting research on CBD as an aid for quitting marijuana.
The study received funding from the Medical Research Council, UK