Life Without Weed

We like to stay in the forefront of the tools used to help people quit smoking weed. We have several articles in addition to the one below on using CBD Oil To help with giving up cannabis. We think it is a valuable tool to use along with our Complete Guide to Quitting Weed. We’ve also have vetted the brands we feel best about to help in the quitting process. We know that buying CBD Oil can be very confusing and we’ve found what we think are the 4 most reliable CBD brands to buy from.

By, Dr. Zora DeGrandpre

Basic Biochemistry of the Cannabinoids

Humans have what is called the endocannabinoid system that is involved in a variety of systems including the immune system, body temperature regulation, mood, memory, pain perception, appetite, infertility and in pregnancy. The endocannabinoid system is also involved in the reward system (a system critically important in the development of addictions) as well as exercise-induced euphoria—commonly referred to as a runner’s high.  The two substances that are produced by humans which utilize the endocannabinoid system are anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamide, AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).

In order to function, substances such as anandamide and 2-AG must bind to receptors found on cells of the nervous system, the digestive system and the immune system. These receptors are also found on other cells such as fat and liver cells.  There are two forms of endocannabinoid receptors known as CB1 and CB2. CB1 is found mainly in the nervous system while CB2 is found both in the nervous system and outside the nervous system, especially in the digestive system.

Anandamide binds preferentially to the CB-1 receptor but also binds to the CB-2 receptor. 2-AG binds to both CB-1 and CB-2 receptors.

While there are 100’s of cannabinoids found in many plants, including cannabis, the two primary plant-derived cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC binds preferentially to the CB-1 receptors and produces effects similar to anandamide. CBD on the other hand, doesn’t bind very well to either the CB-1 or the CB-2 receptors but activates a number of other systems such as the serotonin and the vanilloid receptors—this can help explain the anti-anxiety and the anti-pain effects of CBD.  CBD also can either stimulate or inhibit other receptors and can increase the length of time that THC is active while at the same time moderate the effects of THC.

Effects of CBD

First of all, THC does have addictive potential because of its actions on the reward system.  Secondly, smoking marijuana is the fastest way to get the THC into the blood—and the brain. We don’t know enough at this point to predict all the potential problems, but we know the history of addictive substances that are also fast-acting— the combination of these two factors tends to increase the risk of actual addiction.

On the other hand, CBD shows much less addictive potential.  Research in CBD is in its very early stages with much more to come, but there is a growing body of research. We particularly like the work Dr. Scott Shannon has been doing.  The known short-term effects of CBD include:

  • Pain relief
  • Decrease in anxiety
  • Relief of nausea
  • Decreased risk of seizures

More long-term effects of CBD are not completely known, but CBD has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory agent (possibly related to the effect of CBD on pain relief), can act to reduce blood sugar and act as an anti-diabetic drug and may protect against some cancers.  It appears to have very low physically or psychologically addictive risks.

It is also important to know that CBD tends to act as what is known as an antagonist against THC.  This means that CBD tends to act to slow down and moderate some of the more negative effects of THC—in other words, using a product with both THC and CBD may reduce the risks of long-term use of cannabis.  This is for those who may want to continue consuming THC. However, it is also important to realize that many hybrids on the market have been produced to specifically increase the amount of THC in the product—and increase the addictive potential.

CBD Derived from Hemp

Hemp is a plant that is related to marijuana plants—it comes from another variant of Cannabis sativa L. subspecies sativa var sativa but is very low in THC.  The marijuana plant high in THC (which can vary from 2-20% of the total cannabinoids) is from the plant Cannabis sativa L. var indica.  The hemp plant generally has less than 0.3% THC.  Hemp has higher fiber levels (which is why it has been used for over 10,000 years) and is a much taller plant. However, both subspecies of cannabis have significant CBD content.

Using CBD to Combat THC Dependency

The body of research using CBD to treat addictions is growing.  There have been a number of studies looking at the potential of CBD to treat opioid, alcohol, nicotine and other addictions.  In part, this may be because CBD can help treat some of the underlying factors in addiction—these factors can include chronic pain, anxiety, depression and inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, seizure disorders such as epilepsy and Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory disease of the digestive system.

In addition, CBD is generally ingested or used topically via an oil that is distributed over the skin. This is important for a number of reasons—the first being that topically or ingested CBD acts more slowly than inhaled high-THC cannabis. Also, using CBD oil derived from hemp does not expose you to some of the potential adverse effects of THC.  The third reason is that CBD may be beneficial when you are trying to stop smoking marijuana and you can readily control the dosage while you use CBD to help reduce some of the urges while often working on some of the same symptoms (eg. anxiety, pain, depression), reducing any type of withdrawal symptoms.

There are no specific studies looking at the effectiveness of using CBD to reduce addiction to THC.  However, the studies mentioned above show promise because many of the biochemical and psychological factors functional in addiction are the same, notwithstanding the actual substance that someone is addicted to.

For example, CBD has also been used to treat gambling and eating disorders. In addition, the fact that CBD is used either as an ingested or as a topically supplied substance, the risks of that rapid absorption that is seen with smoked marijuana are avoided.  Third, most physicians recommending medical cannabis, which generally has a combination of THC and CBD, actually use high-CBD products to titrate down any adverse side effects seen and to get a more precise reduction of the symptoms that were first used to recommend medical cannabis.  In other words, physicians experienced in the use of medical cannabis recommend using a combination of CBD and THC because the CBD moderates the known adverse effects of THC. This effect—based on the biochemistry of THC and CBD as well as the interactions between these two cannabinoids—is used to control the overall actions of medical cannabis.

Dr. Zora DeGrandpre, N.D.

Holds the following degrees:
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) | National College of Natural Medicine 2003 – 2007
Master of Science | State University of New York at Buffalo 1980 – 1982