Reading time - 10 minutes - June 14, 2023
For many years, when most people thought of cannabis, it was unlikely that vaping would be the first thing to come to mind. In more recent years, the same could be said of cannabidiol – or CBD – the increasingly popular cannabinoid that people are embracing in their millions. Since the introduction of CBD to the mainstream health and wellness market, traditional products have ruled the roost in this category. In fact, CBD oils remain the most popular CBD product on the market. But things are slowly changing and people are slowly turning to other alternatives, including CBD vape products.
The growing popularity of vaping, across all sectors, has also helped to ignite the trend toward CBD vape pens and other vaporizer devices that can be used with CBD e-liquids. But this increased availability and acceptance require suitable education and awareness around such products. That’s why, here at Nectar, we aim to answer all your questions about vaping CBD (and any other types of consumption/products). For example, in this article, we’ll be aiming to answer the question: Is vaping CBD addictive?
Our interest in the health benefits of cannabis has existed for thousands of years – long before the recent surge in CBD wellness trends. Throughout history, humans have recognised and utilised the potential medicinal properties of cannabis all over the world. However, a prolonged period of prohibition starting in the 20th century and continuing today severely limited our understanding of the different compounds found within the cannabis plant. The good news is that these restrictions are gradually becoming a thing of the past.
Despite these positive changes, however, there is still a considerable stigma surrounding cannabis and its derivatives. This stigma not only affects access to medical cannabis but also shapes our general perception of the plant. For instance, there is a widespread belief that cannabis can be highly addictive, especially when consumed regularly and in large quantities. While evidence does suggest that cannabis can be an addictive substance as a whole, our understanding of the factors contributing to potential cannabis dependence is often flawed.
Recent evidence indicates that only specific compounds found in the cannabis plant possess addiction potential. This brings us to the question of cannabidiol (CBD): is CBD addictive?
CBD is one of over 100 compounds, known as cannabinoids, found in the cannabis plant. Along with THC – the more controversial compound, owing to its strong psychoactive properties – CBD is one of the most common cannabinoids produced by the plant. Like THC, CBD has been found to interact with a number of receptors in our bodies, most notably, receptors of the endocannabinoid system (the ECS). Cannabinoids found in cannabis are able to interact with these receptors thanks to their structural similarity to compounds created naturally in our bodies – endocannabinoids. The ECS has been found to play an important role in a number of bodily functions, including mood, pain signalling, and sleep.
Unlike THC, however, CBD produces no intoxicating effects. Yet, there is growing evidence that CBD (and other cannabinoids, including THC) may have impressive medicinal and therapeutic properties in a range of settings. As such, CBD has become increasingly popular as a wellness ingredient in the UK and around the world. Furthermore, CBD-based medical products have even been found to hold some potential in the treatment of various health conditions, though more clinical research is needed to fully understand these effects.
Still, a growing number of anecdotal testimonials from consumers now abound on the internet, highlighting the perceived effectiveness of CBD in addressing various common issues, such as anxiety (check out our recent blog: ‘Understanding the Anti-Anxiety Potential of CBD‘ for more information!). Additionally, a growing body of clinical evidence continues to support some of these claims. For instance, a systematic review concluded that “current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders.”
Moreover, further studies have suggested that CBD may be useful in the management of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), inflammation management, and sleep disorders. In the UK, CBD-based medications like Epidyolex may be considered and prescribed by specialist doctors for the treatment of rare forms of epilepsy and other conditions.
As mentioned above, CBD and THC are both able to interact with the human endocannabinoid system. However, perhaps the most significant difference between these two common cannabinoids is their intoxication or “high”-inducing (or lack thereof) effects. As such, many often claim that CBD is a “non-psychoactive” ingredient. But this isn’t strictly true.
In fact, experts are quick to discount this claim as the term “psychoactive” literally means “affecting the mind”. Therefore, CBD’s potential effects on mood (including its perceived benefits for the easing of stress and anxiety) may mean that this term can be accurately applied to the cannabinoid. Nonetheless, most people perceive the description of CBD as a non-psychoactive cannabinoid to mean that it does not cause the euphoric “high” which is largely associated with cannabis use. But it is also important to point out that CBD is also not associated with many of the other negative side effects of cannabis.
While the high-inducing effects of THC may be one of the most important factors for recreational cannabis users, it is important to also recognise the potentially dangerous side effects of THC exposure. Many experts believe that regular use of high-THC cannabis may be associated with the development of psychotic symptoms. There is some evidence to support this theory, however, the causal relationship between psychosis and THC exposure is still not fully understood. Consistent exposure to THC has also been associated with a number of other side effects, including feelings of anxiety and paranoia, and addiction.
Estimates suggest that around 1 in 10 cannabis users will become dependent on cannabis – a condition which is often called cannabis use disorder, or CUD. It is widely accepted that the addiction potential of the cannabis plant is largely based on the presence of THC. This is because THC triggers psychoactive responses through its interaction with the part of the brain that triggers reward responses. This process is a key mechanism in addiction. But what about CBD?
Like THC, CBD has been found to be involved in a number of biological responses. The compound’s interactions with cannabinoid receptors in our bodies may, under some circumstances, reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and even prevent seizures. It is important to note, however, that the exact mechanisms through which CBD interacts with our bodies are still not completely understood. Still, experts have concluded that this now-popular wellness ingredient lacks the controversial and often unwanted side effects of THC – including addiction potential.
In 2017, the World Health Organisation (WHO) – the United Nations Agency responsible for international public health – concluded that “in its pure state, cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.”
In recent years, a growing body of evidence has suggested that CBD may actually be an anti-addictive substance. That is, it could help to prevent and even reverse addiction to other substances. The results of some studies have suggested that CBD may be able to “block” some of the negative effects of THC. This has led to increased research into how CBD could help to make medical cannabis a more viable option for patients and clinicians who are concerned about the psychoactive effects of the products.
Furthermore, these findings have also ignited an interest in the potential role CBD could play in the treatment of cannabis use disorder. While more clinical research is required, one study found that treatment with CBD was more effective than placebo at reducing cannabis use among participants with cannabis use disorder. But what about vaping CBD? What are the implications of addiction there?
We have all seen news stories in recent years about the sudden rise in vaping. The growing availability of vape products is often considered to have a negative effect on society, with a growing number of young people becoming addicted to nicotine through their use of these products. So, is vaping CBD likely to have the same effects?
Well, the quick answer to this question is: no. As we have established above, CBD exposure carries no risk of addiction. Furthermore, the vast majority of CBD vape products do not contain nicotine – the addictive substance found in tobacco. It can, therefore, be said with some confidence that vaping CBD products will not cause dependence. In fact, its potential to actually help to tackle addiction could also be useful when it comes to nicotine.
Several studies have investigated whether CBD could serve as an effective treatment for tobacco addiction. While public awareness of the detrimental health effects of smoking has led to a significant decline in the number of smokers in recent decades, smoking still poses a significant public health threat. In fact, tobacco use, along with alcohol consumption, ranks among the leading causes of preventable deaths, worldwide.
This makes continued reductions in smoking an important factor in improving public health – and a potentially useful tool may be hiding in an unexpected place – cannabis.
There is mounting evidence to suggest that CBD may be beneficial in the treatment of nicotine addiction. One study, published in 2013, demonstrated that smokers who consumed CBD during the study period reduced their cigarette intake by approximately 40%.
Furthermore, CBD is increasingly being assessed for its potential in treating various other kinds of addiction, including alcohol use disorder (AUD). A narrative review conducted in 2019, concluded that CBD may have the ability to reduce alcohol consumption in animal models of AUD. This effect was put down to CBD’s association with a decrease in ethanol intake, as well as its apparent ability to curb motivation for ethanol, prevent relapse, alleviate anxiety, and reduce impulsivity. Moreover, CBD’s antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties were found to reduce alcohol-related brain damage.
However, it should be noted that further research is needed to fully understand the extent of CBD’s effectiveness in treating tobacco use disorder and alcohol use disorder.
Given the perceived wellness potential of CBD – and the reputation of vaping as the most effective way to take CBD – it should be no surprise that CBD vape products are growing in popularity. If you’re interested in vaping CBD, why not check out the Nectar Honeybee CBD Vape Pen and the Nectar Hive CBD Vape Pen for the best CBD vape experience around?
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