Wait, doesn’t weed cause the munchies? Don’t cannabis users tend to pig out a couple of hours after smoking or eating cannabis edibles?
Yes yes, the famous, heavy-hitting psychoactive compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) found in cannabis flowers is known to cause food cravings, specifically for the salty, sweet and oily “pleasure” foods that don’t always have the best effect on our body weight and overall health.
That being said, another cannabis compound called CBD (cannabidiol) has become the next most well-known therapeutic cannabinoid. CBD offers many therapeutic benefits including improved sleep, lowered stress levels and pain management, among other things. CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning that CBD can be used therapeutically without the user experiencing the strong “high” associated with THC.
Some studies have emerged recently looking into the efficacy of using CBD for weight loss. Currently there is not much data in regards to CBD contributing to weight loss. Research results vary, and more human testing is needed. The studies that do exist address topics such as CBD’s relationship to metabolism, food intake, fat cells and appetite reduction. But first, what exactly is CBD and how does it work?
Cannabinoids and the Enigmatic Endocannabinoid System
CBD is part of a group of compounds called phytocannabinoids (i.e. cannabinoids found in plants, mainly the cannabis plant). Endocannabinoids are another type of similar compounds produced naturally by the body in our endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS exists all throughout the body and is a complex system of regulatory processes affecting mood, sleep, digestion, reproduction and stress levels, etc. When cannabinoids are consumed or produced by the body, they stimulate receptors within the ECS. This kick-starts the various regulatory processes that work towards achieving homeostasis within the body.
Cannabis is proving to help with so many different health issues, it only makes sense that researchers are looking into the possibility of using cannabinoids to encourage weight loss. Not much is known, and more studies are needed. However, existing studies show promise that CBD specifically can contribute to achieving weight loss goals.
CBD: The Metabolism Kick-Starter
The two known ECS receptors CB1 and CB2 exist in the brain and limbic system have shown to influence metabolism and food intake levels. Metabolism is the complex bodily process of converting food and beverages into energy. The body combines calories with oxygen to transform the calories into energy needed by the body for its various functions. Metabolism levels are directly connected to weight gain and weight loss.
A 2011 study revealed that rats injected daily with CBD experienced significant weight loss, with the rats receiving higher doses of CBD showing greater improvement. Another rat study from 2012 compared several different cannabinoids’ effects on food intake levels. The rats receiving CBD showed greater reduction in food intake in comparison to the rats receiving other cannabinoids.
Obesity is linked with certain metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
A 2017 clinical review of CBD addresses certain highlights in regards to CBD and metabolism. One notable study revealed CBD to reduce total cholesterol levels in obese rats by 25%.
Metabolic disorders are one of the leading global health concerns. CBD is showing promise as an effective treatment and could eventually help to reform the current health care approach to these dangerous health conditions.
Fat Cells: The Good, the Bad and the Dangerous. Can CBD Work For the Greater Good?
Fat cells appear in the body in two types: white cells and brown cells.
White fat cells are predominant and store and provide energy for the body to use. They also cushion the organs of the body. If too many white cells accumulate, the chances of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease are higher.
Brown fat cells generate heat for the body by burning calories. Those with a healthy body weight lean towards having more brown fat cells than white cells.
Exercise, good-quality sleep and cold exposure are all ways to transform white fat cells to brown. Studies have shown that CBD can potentially help with this process. A 2016 test-tube study showed that CBD helped to convert white fat cells to brown and enhanced specific proteins and genes that are responsible for the creation of brown fat cells. CBD also showed to help break down existing fat cells in the body. CBD and health enthusiasts look forward to future CBD and fat cell studies done on humans.
No More Munchies – CBD and Appetite Reduction
When we think of cannabis we often think of someone smoking a joint, chilling out, and a couple of hours later, chowing down big time. While it’s true that THC-containing marijuana is known to increase appetite and lead to intense snacking, CBD is showing potential to have the opposite effect.
THC stimulates ECS receptor CB1 which then releases a hormone that increases food intake. On the flipside, CBD is a CB1 receptor antagonist. The antagonists work by creating a barrier to or deactivating the receptor. According to a 2018 study on the role of cannabinoids in obesity, CBD could prove to decrease appetite and lessen food intake, leading to weight loss and obesity mitigation.
The Connection Between Stress, Inflammation and Obesity, and How CBD Can Help
It’s common knowledge that stress is a killer. Unfortunately, most of the world is under stress due to overwork, the capitalistic rat race, relationship and family strife, socioeconomic struggles, chronic health issues, and the list goes on. Add increasing natural disasters, inflation, global political discord and climate change to the mix and it’s no wonder that most adults claim to feel extreme stress at some point in their lives.
To add to the intensity of stress, it just so happens to have severe negative affects on our physical and mental equilibrium. One thing it does is release a hormone called cortisol, which increases appetite and also leads to potentially destructive habits such as “comfort-eating.” This can lead to obesity which then perpetuates the stress cycle and further compromises health.
Many studies exist showing the potential of CBD to treat anxiety, stress and PTSD. By lowering stress levels, humans are less likely to seek comfort in bad habits such as overeating and comfort eating, thereby maintaining a healthy body weight more easily.
Research shows that inflammation can lead to weight gain and obesity. CBD’s natural anti-inflammatory qualities can help to mitigate or eradicate inflammation within the body, thereby helping to prevent excessive weight gain.
More studies are needed in the areas of CBD for stress and inflammation. The existing data looks promising and CBD could become a highly useful tool in helping humans to achieve mental and physical balance.
A 2016 test-tube study has revealed CBD to be able to transform potentially unhealthy white fat cells into brown fat cells which generate heat for the body by burning calories. This could potentially result in weight loss.
CBD is an antagonist to the CB1 receptor in our endocannabinoid system. CB1 is responsible for releasing a hormone that increases appetite. CBD blocks or deactivates this receptor thereby decreasing appetite.
Speak with a health-care professional about finding a suitable exercise and food regimen appropriate to your bodily constitution. Also, learn as much as you can about CBD.
Things to Remember
While CBD studies look promising when it comes to weight control and obesity management, there are some points to consider before adding CBD to your weight-loss regimen:
- When it comes to healthy body weight, no supplement compares to choosing a whole foods diet and engaging in adequate exercise. Speak to health-care professionals such as nutritionists, Chinese medicine doctors, naturopaths and personal trainers etc so that you can find a food plan and exercise program that suits your personal constitution. Everyone’s body and metabolism are unique and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to diet, exercise and weight management.
- Learn as much as you can about CBD and cannabinoids. Knowledge is power and there are a ton of resources out there for those looking to boost their cannabis knowledge. The awesome staff at the Green Dragon CBD can be contacted here to answer any of your cannabis-related inquiries. The Green Dragon CBD blog page is an excellent resource if you are looking to read up on the benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids.
The connection between CBD and weight loss is still somewhat mysterious and more formal studies are needed before CBD can be recommended as a supplement for weight loss. The existing evidence is exciting and promising. Stay tuned for more articles from The Green Dragon CBD as research continues in this important and fascinating area of human health.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, JEN OLSON
Jennifer Olson is a copywriter with a deep knowledge of the cannabis industry. She was born and raised on an island in BC, Canada and currently resides in the Slocan Valley, BC. She is passionate about science and research and could potentially bore you with talk of mycelium, neurochemicals, you name it. Connect with her on Instagram or read other posts by Jen.