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CBD and Tobacco Withdrawal

Friday, January 18, 2019

A recent John Wiley and Sons published report on behalf of the prestigious UK  Society for the Study of Addiction is titled, “Cannabidiol reverses attentional bias to cigarette cues in a human experimental model of tobacco withdrawal.” 

This got our attention since tobacco addiction is a serious public health issue linked to more than 480,000 deaths per year in this country, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure.

Most smokers need help to quit. 

For our readers who may not know, hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) is a distinct strain of the Cannabis sativa plant without the psychoactive tetrahydocannabinol (THC) effects associated with the Cannabis sativa marijuana plant.  


The passage and the December 21, presidential signing of the 2018, US Farm Bill made hemp and most hemp-derived products federally legal including CBD with THC levels under the 0.3 percent threshold required for agricultural commodity. It put a long-awaited end to five senseless decades of hemp prohibition.

The cannabidiol research we are presenting today may be a promising smoking cessation treatment due to its anxiolytic properties, minimal side effects, and research showing that it may modify drug cue salience.  We view this as particularly important given the misery and ever-growing public health care costs associated with tobacco addiction.

The study: The UK Society for the Study of Addiction  researchers used an experimental medicine approach with 30 dependent cigarette smokers to investigate if (1) overnight nicotine abstinence, compared with satiety, would produce greater attentional bias (AB), higher pleasantness ratings of cigarette-related stimuli and increased craving and withdrawal; and (2) CBD in comparison to placebo, would attenuate AB, pleasantness of cigarette-related stimuli, craving and withdrawal and not produce any side effects.

The design: Randomized, double-blind cross-over study with a fixed satiated session followed by two overnight abstinent sessions.

Intervention and comparator: 800mg oral CBD, or matched placebo (PBO) in a counterbalanced order.


Measurements: AB to pictorial tobacco cues was recorded using a visual probe task and an explicit rating task. Withdrawal, craving, side effects, heart rate and blood pressure were assessed repeatedly.

Findings: When participants received PBO, tobacco abstinence increased AB (P= 0.001, d = 0.789) compared with satiety. However, CBD reversed this effect, such that automatic AB was directed away from cigarette cues (P = 0.007, d = 0.704) and no longer differed from satiety (P=0.82).

Compared with PBO, CBD also reduced explicit pleasantness of cigarette images (P=0.011; d = 0.514). Craving (Bayes factor = 7.08) and withdrawal (Bayes factor = 6.95) were unaffected by CBD, but greater in abstinence compared with satiety. Systolic blood pressure decreased under CBD during abstinence.




This was the first study, to investigator’s knowledge, to investigate effects of CBD on nicotine withdrawal. After overnight tobacco abstinence, cigarette smokers administered 800 mg CBD, in comparison to placebo, show a reduced salience and pleasantness of cigarette cues, in the absence of any reductions in withdrawal or craving.

This study highlights the potential utility of CBD as a treatment for specific neurocognitive components of tobacco use disorder, and suggests that one potential mechanism by which CBD may exert its effects on addiction is via a reduction in the salience of drug cues.

These results support the growing literature regarding CBD in the treatment of addictive disorders.

Ellen Troyer, with Spencer Thornton, MD, David Amess and the Biosytrx staff  

PEARL:  Now that hemp is legal, expect to see a lot more peer-reviewed CBD science in prestigious journals. 

An Annual Review of Neuroscience study we found particularly interesting reviewed preclinical and clinical data outlining the therapeutic efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of motivational disorders including anxiety, and depression.  

A study published September 2018, in Molecular Brain suggests that Cannabidiol (CBD) exhibits therapeutic potential for chronic neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, ischemic stroke, epilepsy and other convulsive syndromes and neuropsychiatric disorders.   

Biosyntrx has no financial or other ties to CBD.