CBD and Nicotine: Do They Interact Negatively?

When it comes to the relationship between CBD and nicotine, studies are scarce. What’s more, they don’t give consistent results that would provide real insight into the turbulent and potentially dangerous effects of CBD and nicotine interaction.


But that doesn’t mean that we know nothing about the interaction between CBD and nicotine. That would be ludicrous, especially since up to 70% of people who use cannabis also smoke or use tobacco. 


Of course, some CBD users don’t chase that particular cannabis high. Still, it’s safe to assume that there are many smokers among CBD users as well. Many people mix nicotine and CBD into one compound. That way, they achieve a synergistic effect we know little about. 


So, is that safe? Or is mixing CBD with stimulants actually tempting fate?


How Does Nicotine Affect CBD?

As mentioned, some users mix tobacco with CBD and other cannabis-derived compounds. They do so because, subjectively, they think it intensifies the experience. If the CBD product contains THC and other psychoactive compounds, users report that nicotine boosts the high.


The other side of the coin comes from testimonials of users that report that nicotine actually squashes their high. So, we can’t really tell how CBD and nicotine (as well as cannabis and nicotine) interact with each other just based on users’ testimonials.


Furthermore, many tobacco users smoke because they believe nicotine has a soothing effect on anxiety and stress. The reality is actually quite different, but it’s all about that placebo effect, right? 


Some users smoke while using CBD and cannabis to counteract the anxiety that sometimes comes with cannabis use. Others use them together to intensify the anxiety-soothing effects. As we know, CBD has an extremely beneficial effect on anxiety, so we can’t really fault people for this logic.


What About the Brain?

According to a study done in 2011, long-term cannabis use, as well as long-term cannabis and tobacco use, are linked to a smaller hippocampus. Of course, the effects both cannabis and tobacco will have on the brain as a whole and the hippocampus depend on the duration of use and dosages.


Still, the study provided strong evidence that long-term use of cannabis will result in a smaller hippocampus, which causes poor memory. But this is only true for users that pick products with high levels of THC and low levels of CBD. 


Now, the hippocampus is an area of the brain that’s responsible for memory, among other things. In children, big hippocampal areas mean great memory test scores. In adults, smaller hippocampi mean poor memory in most cases. We say most because studies show that smaller hippocampi in users who use both cannabis and tobacco were actually linked to better memory scores. So, the link between the hippocampus volume and memory-retaining abilities differs between cannabis users and those who use both tobacco and cannabis.


What Does That Mean?

Essentially, the studies so far show that there’s a definitive correlation between cannabis and nicotine and CBD and nicotine. Still, that doesn’t fully explain the dynamic.


Stimulants, psychoactive substances, and CBD are all linked. What’s more, they do interact with each other. Still, we don’t know if their effects are cumulative or if they negatively impact each other. 


They affect the complex neural network of stimulus and reward. The hippocampus is the main part of that network. What’s more, the hippocampus has high levels of nicotine, stimulants, and cannabinoid receptors, which makes it the main brain area responsible for processing these compounds and regulating our bodies’ responses to them.


The receptors are interlinked. For example, nicotine affects the nicotine receptors but also the opioid ones. 


But specific cannabinoid receptors, such as CB-1 ones, can stimulate nicotine receptors as well. That means that stimulants of these receptors can make us crave nicotine. That might explain why there are so many cannabis/tobacco and CD/tobacco users.


What’s the Bottom Line?

We can’t go through life thinking that stuff happens in a vacuum. All stimulants we ingest will interact with each other. That’s especially true because we only have one stimulus-reward system. Sure, it has different receptors for different substances. But those receptors act when stimulated with more than one type of stimuli.


So, the bottom line of CBD and nicotine interaction is that there’s a definite correlation between the two. What’s more, CBD use can increase our desire for nicotine. But concrete results that would explain both the causation and the correlation of the interaction are yet to come. 

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