Breaking a nicotine habit is one of the hardest challenges you’ll ever face. The American Addiction Center lists nicotine as one of the five hardest drugs to quit—heroin and crystal meth are also on that list.
Instead of quitting cold-turkey, many smokers transition partly or entirely to other nicotine-based products like patches, gums, and vapes.
But nicotine-based vape juices, while better, don’t alleviate all your health concerns; nicotine is a toxic chemical with decades of research proving its negative health effects.
Cutting back on nicotine often leads to frustration, piling more stress on top of all the other stresses we bear in our daily life.
Below, I’ll briefly explain the dangers of nicotine, and then talk about why many believe CBD could reduce cravings.
Nicotine Is a Biopesticide
Although the negative effects of nicotine are well documented, there are a few things you may not know.
Nicotine is a phytochemical, that is, a biological compound found in plants—in this case, the nightshade family. In an article published in the scientific journal Nautilus, neuroscientist Mark Mattson suggests that nightshades, like tobacco, produce nicotine to ward off pests. It acts as a kind of biopesticide.
Tobacco and other nightshades aren’t the only beings to use nicotine this way. Humans have added nicotine to insecticides since the late 17th century. Today, all nicotine-based pesticides are banned in the US due to fears of inadvertent nicotine poisoning.
This isn’t a surprise. When nicotine was first synthesized by the German chemists Posselt and Reimann in 1828, they identified it as a poison. A lethal dose of the drug is 500mg. Your average cigarette has 2mg.
How Your Body Reacts to Nicotine
While nicotine affects many parts of your body, it alters your adrenaline, insulin, and dopamine levels the most. Below, I quickly explain how the drug interacts with these three important chemicals.
Increases Adrenaline: This is the flight or flight response hormone. When nicotine increases your adrenaline, it also increases your blood flow, heart output, and blood sugar. According to UCLA Health, this is the same pattern of response found in patients with cardiovascular disease.
Inhibits Insulin: By staunching the flow of insulin from your pancreas, nicotine spikes your blood sugar levels, suppressing hunger. This is why many nicotine users lose their appetite while smoking or vaping nicotine. Inhibiting insulin levels is especially dangerous for diabetics.
Activates Dopamine: Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and hormone that stimulates feelings of pleasure and calmness. When you use nicotine, your brain attunes its dopamine receptors to primarily accept nicotine, much like with heroin and other highly addictive drugs. This is the reason nicotine can be so hard to quit. The good news? Quitting nicotine eventually dissolves these receptors, and your brain rebalances.
CBD and Your Cannabinoid System
In the last few years, cannabinoids, and CBD specifically, have gone through a research renaissance. This is also true of the human endocannabinoid system—the vast network of receptors that control your immune system, appetite, sleep cycles, pain response, and more. There’s new research published all the time that discusses the potentially positive effects of CBD.
What we know is that CBD gently reacts with the cannabinoid receptors in your body to maintain its levels endogenous cannabinoids, that is, chemicals that our bodies make on their own.
One of the main chemicals CBD interacts with is anandamide. In 1992, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam discovered anandamide, and named it for the Sanskrit word meaning “inner bliss.”
While we’re unsure of all the ways anandamide interacts with our bodies, scientists think it plays a pivotal role in sleep, eating habits, stress reduction, and pain relief.
CBD isn’t psychoactive like THC. That means it doesn’t test positive on drug screenings, and you can order it online.
Vaping CBD as a Safer Alternative to Nicotine
So, we know that nicotine negatively affects the human brain, pancreas, and heart. When you cut your nicotine intake, your stress levels increase because your brain adjusts to the high levels of dopamine.
The result? Cutting back on nicotine begins a nasty cycle. You feel more stressed and anxious; you’re easily irritable and constantly annoyed. Early research suggests that CBD could ease those feelings.
In a recent Scientific American article, CBD’s apparent ability to reduce stress and pacify addictive memories has lead neuroscientists to begin trials with heroin-addicted patients. So far, they’ve found the natural compound has eased patient withdrawal symptoms.
Although we aren’t certain how CBD could help nicotine users specifically, some preliminary findings look hopeful. In one double-blind study, researchers found that tobacco smokers who ingested CBD while they were trying to quit smoked fewer cigarettes—as much as 40%.
While vaping nicotine is not as bad as smoking tobacco, you’re still consuming harmful nicotine. Introducing CBD into your life could be a smart step in your search for a safe alternative.
If you’re ready to break your nicotine habit, but not ready to leave vaping behind, that’s okay. The switch from nicotine vaping to CBD vaping is easy—just purchase one of our refillable vape cartridges and give it a try. If you vape with a Juul, we have tasty flavors of CBD Juul pods as well.
Remember, CBD won’t stimulate your nervous system the same way nicotine does. Instead, customers experience tranquility and a sense of well-being; some even mention improved pain tolerance.
Break Free from Nicotine Dependence
Altering your daily routine will always be a struggle—there’ll be good days and bad days. When the change involves breaking a toxic habit like nicotine, the struggle only intensifies.
We don’t know the full extent of CBD’s benefits as an alternative to nicotine, but there’s enough information out there to think it’s worth a try.
Any day you consume a little less nicotine is a good day. So, check out our Stress & Mood section and start curbing your habit now.