A new study led by the Washington State University (WSU) has found that cannabidiol (CBD) – a non-psychoactive component of cannabis – inhibits the metabolism of nicotine, thus potentially allowing nicotine-addicted individuals to curb their need of smoking. Although more research is needed to confirm these results in humans and determine appropriate dosage levels, these findings show promise for the treatment of nicotine addiction and could help improve public health.
“The whole mission is to decrease harm from smoking, which is not from the nicotine per se, but all the carcinogens and other chemicals that are in tobacco smoke,” said study senior author Philip Lazarus, a professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at WSU. “If we can minimize that harm, it would be a great thing for human health.”
Cigarette smoking is currently a major health problem, with one in five people in the United States dying annually from smoking-related issues. Although other nicotine delivery methods, such as vaping, snuff, and chew are often considered less harmful, they also contain a variety of chemicals that can cause cancers and other illnesses.
The scientists tested CBD and its main metabolite (called 7-hyroxycannabidiol) on microsomes from human liver tissue, as well as specialized cell lines which allowed them to zoom in on individual enzymes related to nicotine metabolism. The analysis revealed that CBD inhibited several of these enzymes, including the major one for nicotine metabolism (CYP2A6), which helps metabolizing over 70 percent of nicotine. The impact of CBD on this enzyme appeared quite strong, inhibiting its activity by over 50 percent even at relatively low CBD concentrations.
Currently, the researchers are developing a clinical study to assess the effects of CBD on nicotine levels in smokers by measuring their nicotine levels in the blood and comparing them to those of people from a placebo group. If the results will be positive, they will perform a much larger study examining the relation between CBD and nicotine addiction.
The study is published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.
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