CBD and Addiction: Can CBD Aid Addiction Recovery?
CBD and addiction is a topic that research is only just beginning to shed light on. Many people are beginning to investigate whether CBD could help with addiction recovery. And in fact, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that this is the case! In this article, we’ve explored how CBD could support addiction recovery from opioids, alcohol, marijuana and nicotine. We’ve also included some further scientific reading so that you can stay informed!
Trigger warning: This article contains images of addictive substances.
CBD reduces withdrawal side-effects
The first way that CBD could help those suffering from addiction is by reducing the nasty side-effects that come with withdrawal.
A recent study investigated the potential benefits of CBD for those suffering from opioid addiction And it concluded that CBD was able to significantly reduce the effects of opioid withdrawal.
The study concluded:
“Patients with substance use disorders often present with various psychiatric and medical symptoms that are reduced by CBD—symptoms such as anxiety, mood symptoms, insomnia, and pain”
And these symptoms are not unique to opioid withdrawal. In fact, they’re common to many types of addiction, including cannabis, alcohol and nicotine addiction. And if you’d like to read some more studies on how CBD can help each withdrawal symptom, we’ve collected some further reading for you!
- CBD has neuroprotective properties that decreases stress vulnerability and exhibit anxiety-reducing effects
- Evidence to show that CBD acts as an antidepressant in animal trials
- CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety in people with social phobias and generalised anxiety disorders
CBD can reduce cravings
One of the most difficult aspects of any addiction can be the intense cravings. However, CBD has been shown to help manage and reduce these feelings in addicts.
One recent study investigated the effect of CBD on regular smokers, and it found that CBD reduced the number of cigarettes consumed by the participants. And another study noted that after receiving 800mg of CBD, patients perceived cigarettes to be less rewarding, and found images of cigarettes more unappealing. In fact, the same conclusion was reached in a similar study around CBD and cannabis addiction. In this study, CBD reduced “wanting” and “liking” of cannabis-related materials.
And more anecdotally, you don’t have to look far to find accounts from recovering addicts about how CBD helped them to beat their addiction! Many people have reported that vaping or ingesting CBD has helped them to significantly reduce their alcohol and marijuana cravings. And as craving is directly associated with drug and alcohol relapse, targeting this symptom is crucial to overcoming addiction.
CBD can reduce physical damage
The toll that addiction takes on the human body can be staggering. We’ve already mentioned the unwanted mental side-effects that come with addiction recovery, such as anxiety, depression, and irritability. However, the body can also suffer from a wide variety of sometimes lethal physical damage following substance misuse.
However, there is significant evidence to suggest that CBD can also help to repair the body and aid physical recovery following addiction. And whilst more research and human trials are needed to confirm this, results so far are promising!
A recent study in rodents found that CBD was able to:
- Reduce cocaine-induced liver damage
- Mitigate the negative cardiac effects of THC
- Reduce neurotoxicity caused by alcohol binge-drinking
So, essentially, what this means for CBD and addiction is that CBD could help undo the damage caused by substance abuse. In addition to mental recovery, researchers are optimistic that CBD can help your body to heal physically.
CBD is non-addictive
Another reason why CBD is considered helpful to recovering addicts is that, unlike many pharmaceutical options, CBD is non-addictive.
Unfortunately, many recovering addicts often replace one addictive substance with another. For example, many recovering drug addicts will use alcohol or cigarettes to fill the void left by an addictive substance. However, further addiction can also occur due to prescribed medications. Many anti-addiction medications trick the brain into thinking that it is still getting the substance it is addicted to. However, this can cause a further cycle of addiction which can be difficult to break!
CBD, however, is non-psychoactive. It does not cause a euphoria or any kind of ‘high’ feeling. In fact, it is classed a ‘non-rewarding’ substance – meaning that it does not cause drug-seeking behaviour of chasing a high.
For CBD and addiction, this is a positive step. Because it means that addicts are able to benefit from the effects of CBD without becoming addicted. Therefore, CBD could help to break the cycle of addiction!
CBD could help prevent relapses
The last important factor relating to CBD and addiction: CBD has a significant and long-term impact on preventing relapses.
In a previous paragraph, we talked about how CBD can reduce cravings, effectively making an addictive substance seem less appealing. Well, it’s also important to note that this positive effect lasted two or more weeks after administration. Also, CBD was shown to be effective when taken both during active heroin use, or during a period of abstinence.
The study concluded:
“Moreover, even when administered during active heroin intake, the ability of CBD to inhibit relapse behavior was still apparent weeks after the last exposure. This suggests that CBD could impact the course of heroin dependence even following a potential lapse condition after a period of abstinence.”
This is so interesting because this benefit isn’t currently offered by any medications currently used for the treatment of heroin abuse.
CBD and addiction
In conclusion, CBD can help to aid addiction recovery in a number of ways including:
- Reducing withdrawal side effects such as irritability, mood swings and insomnia
- Helping to reduce cravings and making an addictive substance seem less appealing or rewarding
- Reducing physical damage to the body
- Not contributing to further addiction
- Helping to prevent relapses in the long-term
Of course, much more research is needed to make a concrete case for CBD and addiction. However, so far researchers are optimistic about the positive benefits of CBD for addiction recovery!
For more related content, read some of our recent articles:
How CBD Can Help to Boost Your Immune System
With all of the recent health fears in the UK and further afield, it’s more important than ever to build a strong immune system. But Can CBD help you to do this? Let’s take a look at what science says about CBD and the immune system, as well as finding out about how taking CBD can boost your overall health!
The Endocannabinoid System
To understand the connection between CBD and the immune system, it’s first important to understand the Endocannabinoid System (ECS.)
The (ECS) is a complex cell-signalling system present within our bodies. It plays a crucial part in homeostasis – maintaining the fine balance that allows our bodies to function optimally. This means that the ECS regulates a number of aspects of our health, such as sleep, memory, appetite, and yes, even our immune systems.
In fact, the ECS and the immune system are so closely related, that many scientists refer to the existence of an “immuno-cannabinoid system” within their research. One study from the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of South Florida writes:
“It appears the immuno-cannabinoid system is involved in regulating the brain-immune axis and might be exploited in future therapies for chronic diseases and immune deficiency.”
But what does this have to do with CBD?
Where does CBD come in?
To explain where CBD comes in, we’ll need to get a little science-y – but stick with us!
The Endocannabinoid System works through 2 main receptors – CB1 receptors in the brain and CB2 receptors in the central nervous system. And these receptors act kind of like a lock – waiting to be opened… But where’s the key?
The key comes in the form of substances called cannabinoids – of which there are hundreds and hundreds of different types. And when the cannabinoid “key” attaches to the receptor “lock” the receptors become activated, allowing the Endocannabinoid System to function properly and provide all the benefits we discussed above.
Where do cannabinoids come from? Well, our bodies naturally produce many types of cannabinoids. And yep, you guessed it – cannabidiol, (CBD) is also a type of cannabinoid!
So, taking CBD regularly acts as a boost to your ECS – effectively supercharging it and helping it to functional well. But let’s take a deeper look at CBD and the immune system. And let’s look at what this actually means for your immune system and your overall health.
The immune system fights disease via cell-mediated immunity and humoral immunity. This may sound a bit complicated. But essentially, our immune systems need to maintain the right balance between the two in order to function optimally. And recent research is showing that the Endocannabinoid system plays a part in regulating the balance between these two immune responses.
So, there is evidence to show that taking CBD helps to keep your immune system acting responsively and functioning properly.
Chronic inflammation can have a knock-on effect on your whole body. It’s also a leading cause of illnesses such as autoimmune conditions, arthritis, asthma and even heart disease or stroke.
However, recent scientific studies have shown that CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory properties due to its suppression of cytokines in the body, which regulates inflammatory response. This can make CBD an excellent choice for boosting the immune systems of those who suffer from inflammatory or autoimmune conditions.
Our bodies don’t function well when we’re stressed. Stress has been directly linked to the four most common causes of death – heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. And in fact, stress stops our immune systems from working properly. When we’re stressed, our immune systems are less able to fight off antigens – leaving us more susceptible to infections.
But don’t fear! Scientists have found that CBD can significantly help with anxiety and stress. And it does this by changing the way the brain reacts to stressful stimuli. In another study, brain scans showed changes in blood flow patterns in regions of the brain associated with stress and anxiety. Allowing an overall boost to the immune system by helping us to stay on top form.
Lastly, studies have shown that CBD plays a role within neuromodulation. This is another complex term, but essentially ‘neuromodulation’ refers to the regulation of the nerves and nervous system. And in recent years, much has been discovered about the link between the nervous system and the immune system (the neural-immune system.)
A study from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Würzburg showed that CBD could benefit the neural-immune system through supporting the body’s production of serotonin. In addition to being the body’s natural ‘happy’ chemical, serotonin also helps to reduce oxidative stress on the body and the nervous system – helping the neural-immune system and its interactions to function properly.
Stay healthy, stay happy
So, now you understand a bit more about how CBD and the immune system can work together to:
- Naturally fight disease and boost overall health
- Support inflammatory and auto-immune conditions
- Reduce physical and mental stress
- Help the neural-immune system to function properly
And right now more than ever, it’s important to look after your immune system. So, whatever you’re doing to look after yourself, make sure to stay healthy and stay happy.
Lab Test results
We have some of our CBD products independently lab tested to confirm that they contain the correct amount of Cannabidiol, 0% THC and are pesticides and herbicide free. You can see our Certificates of Analysis from PhytoVista laboratory by following the links below:
The Endocannabinoid System – What Is It? Why Does It Matter?
The endocannabinoid system plays an important function within our bodies. But what is it, why does it matter, and what does it have to do with CBD? Read on to find out.
What is the endocannabinoid system?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signalling system found within our bodies. Research is still discovering new things about the endocannabinoid system. However, we do know that it has been proven to regulate a number of processes including but not limited to:
- Learning and memory
- The cardiovascular system
Whilst the ECS exists in our body already, it is also capable of interacting with cannabis’s active chemical compounds.
Homeostasis: finding the middle ground
The endocannabinoid system is able to affect these aspects of the body as it plays an important role in homeostasis.
Homeostasis is one of the key aspects of biology, and the best way to think of it is as the middle ground. It regulates the body to maintain certain conditions, so we’re not too hot or too cold, or our blood sugars aren’t too high or too low. And so on. Our bodies need to work within quite a narrow set of parameters for optimal performance and the endocannabinoid system is vital to help maintain homeostasis.
Key elements of the ECS
The endocannabinoid system is present in every vertebrate species and contains three components:
- Cannabinoid receptors on the surface of cells
- Endocannabinoids, small molecules that activate cannabinoid receptors
- Metabolic enzymes that break down used endocannabinoids
So what are each of these components? Here’s a quick guide. It’s quite complex biochemistry, but we’ll try to make it as simple as possible:
Part one: cannabinoid receptors
These receptors are found on cell surfaces and they monitor conditions outside of the cell. They send this information about changing conditions to the inside of the cell, which allows the body to respond in the right way.
The two major receptors are called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found in the brain and these are the ones that interact with THC (the psychoactive element that’s a feature of cannabis, but not CBD) to get you high. CB2 receptors mainly exist outside the nervous system, in places like the immune system.
Part two: endocannabinoids
Endocannabinoids are molecules that work with the cannabinoid receptors in what is often described as a ‘lock and key’ fashion. They effectively unlock the cannabinoid receptors and allow the ECS to function properly. Endocannabinoids are produced naturally within the body, however they can also be supplemented. CBD, for example, is a type of endocannabinoid.
Part three: metabolic enzymes
The final part of the puzzle is the metabolic enzyme, which destroys endocannabinoids once used. The two large enzymes – FAAH (which breaks down anandamide) and MAGL (which breaks down 2-AG). The job of these enzymes is to ensure that human’s body uses the endocannabinoids only when needed.
These three components make up the endocannabinoid system, which has the main job of keeping our bodies in the middle ground. If we get too hot, for example, the endocannabinoid system kicks in to bring our body back to homeostasis. Or, in other words, the balanced middle ground.
Endocannabinoids in the brain
The brain contains a number of cells – neutrons that communicate with the body by sending signals. The neutrons listen to the body, but they can get overwhelmed if there are too many signals, and that’s when endocannabinoids kick in.
If there are too many signals around the body, endocannabinoids will target the relevant neutron to bring it back to middle ground, and therefore maintain homeostasis.
But they aren’t just working in the brain. Instead, they are there to regulate every system in the body, from digestion to the immune system. Everything needs proper regulation for survival. And endocannabinoids are key to that process.
Endocannabinoid regulation of inflammation
Inflammation is a normal response when the body is trying to fight something, for example infection or a physical injury. Endocannabinoids support this coming along with pro-inflammatory molecules that instruct other immune cells to fight inflammation. This ensures that the body returns to health by destroying germs and coming back to that middle ground.
Where does CBD come in?
It’s taken a while, but it’s important to understand the background before we get to the point. CBD can positively affect overall levels of endocannabinoids in the brain and inhibits the FAAH enzyme (which breaks down anandamide). Research has shown this to be good for treating anxiety, for example.
It’s worth pointing out that, because CBD binds with multiple types of receptors, the full range of its effects extends beyond just the scope of endocannabinoid regulation. Full spectrum CBD oil contains a wide range of additional cannabinoids, which have their own health benefits that scientists are investigating.
Endocannabinoid system conclusions
Because of its complexity, the endocannabinoid system is still a very new subject of study to scientists, having only been discovered a few decades ago. Despite this, its role as a crucial regulatory component of some of the most important biological processes in our bodies is already widely accepted. As hemp-based products such as CBD oil continue to rise in popularity, more information will come to light. And this will enable us to clear up any of the mysteries surrounding the endocannabinoid system. What we know for now is that CBD oil interacts effectively with this system for a large number of people, resulting in a large variety of positive benefits.