If you were the voice of reason for your crazy friends back in the college days, you can probably identify with the interaction between CBD and THC. As it concerns their effects on the brain, THC is like the freshman trying to prove themselves: starting fights with the upperclassmen, backflipping off of tables and all manner of buffoonery. You, on the other hand, CBD, were always there to keep THC from causing serious damage. As it turns out, this goofy metaphor actually hold up in terms of CBD’s effect on marijuana withdrawal and addiction. How does this work, you ask? Goodness, what a well-timed question.
Pardon the cliché/pun, but we really have to “clear the air” as it concerns marijuana dependence. Many people believe that marijuana dependence doesn’t exist, and that’s simply not true. Here’s the deal:
Marijuana is not engineered to be addictive (like meth, crack, etc), BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t become dependent on it. In fact, the research indicates that up to 30 percent of cannabis smokers have what’s referred to as a marijuana use disorder
, which is basically a softball term for dependence. Think about it this way: alcohol isn’t highly addictive like cocaine or meth either; you don’t drink one beer and become an alcoholic. After enough use, however, you become dependent on the substance because it replaces your ability to self-regulate certain processes (aka, dealing with stressors).
Another misguided belief surrounding marijuana use is that you can stop any time with zero consequence. This may in fact be true for very casual users, but for regular smokers, marijuana withdrawal syndrome may occur.
To many, the word “withdrawal” evokes a pretty grim image of a person writhing all night with “the sweats,” but marijuana withdrawal syndrome isn’t as theatrical (though it’s still a pain). Many people who have experienced it liken it to caffeine withdrawal. Here’s what you have to look forward to if you are in that boat:
- Sleeping disturbances
- Feeling jittery or anxious
- Feeling “down”
Typically, the above range symptoms range in duration from 2-3 days after cessation to 2-3 weeks later. If you’re having a particularly rough go of it in this department, CBD can be of great assistance! But how do CBD and THC accomplish this, you ask? Wow – you’re really nailing these questions today.
How CBD Helps with Marijuana Withdrawal
A study published in 2015 presented several eye-opening realizations as it concerns the combined use of CBD
and THC to ease the transition off of marijuana for long-term, “addicted” users. In the study, a young man experiencing marijuana withdrawal symptoms was given a small dose (24mg decreased to 18mg) of CBD every day for the duration. During his trial of CBD oil, he demonstrated significantly improved sleep (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, or PSQI), and he reported feeling less anxious (Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, or HAM-A). Additionally, he didn’t feel the need to use marijuana at all. That’s great in terms of results, but what about the mechanism? How do CBD and THC interact with each other in the brain?
When THC, the mind-altering component of marijuana, enters your system, it links up with the “CB1” receptor in your brain; this is how it produces its effects throughout the mind and body. We’ve mentioned briefly in other posts that CBD and THC have a bit of a rivalry when it comes to the CB1 receptor. It’s not a simple case of “who can get there first,” though – it’s a bit more nuanced. Here’s what happens:
- The CBD binds to a different site on the CB1 receptor than THC.
- This causes the CB1 receptor to change its shape.
- As a result, the THC cannot work nearly as effectively, because the receptor doesn’t “fit” properly.
So, the CBD and THC don’t cancel each other out directly. The CBD simply renders the THC less able to interact with its target receptor. This “antagonistic” effect, as the lab coats call it, is preferable to pharmaceutical intervention because it works gently with your body’s existing supply of neurotransmitters and receptors.
CBD is completely non-psychoactive, and will promote several health benefits in addition to managing cravings and decreasing marijuana withdrawal symptoms. To find out how you can start using CBD oil to stop using THC, read here