Author: Joy Hughes
Obesity is a major epidemic affecting men and women around the world. Caused largely by bad eating habits, chemicals, and hormones found in a number of foods, obesity is one of the main contributors to health problems, disabilities, and death in the United States. Proper diet and exercise can help combat this disease. However, being obese or overweight can actually interfere with day-to-day activities, health, pain awareness, mood, etc.
Today the majority of people consuming CBD find some relief from pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, and even more severe diagnoses such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. However, now CBD has even been proven to help in obesity and weight loss.
In this article we’ll discuss just how CBD helps combat obesity and weight gain. But first, a quick refresher on what CBD is.
What is CBD?
The cannabis sativa plant (more specifically, hemp) contains over 100 naturally occurring phytocannabinoids. Of these phytocannabinoids, Cannabidiol (CBD) and Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are present in the highest concentrations, making them the most recognized molecules of the cannabis plant.
CBD is completely non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t give you the “high” feeling that THC gives. This allows you to obtain all of its therapeutic benefits without the psychoactive effects. In fact, studies have shown that CBD counteracts the euphoric effects of THC in CBD-dominant products. There are several similarities and medicinal benefits of CBD and THC, however the two act very differently in the body.1
Endocannabinoid system and metabolism
One of the many causes of excessive weight gain and obesity is poor eating habits and patterns. Our body naturally consists of an internal communication system known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). It helps regulate appetite, digestion, pain management, sleep, etc.
This system is made up of enzymes, receptor cells, and endocannabinoids which are similar to the phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Think of it as the master control system for the whole body, where perhaps nearly all the body’s functions including metabolism are directly impacted by these endocannabinoids — molecules that activate and bind to cannabinoid receptors.
So how does CBD work within the body? Consuming cannabis affects what is known as CB1 and CB2 receptors found within and throughout our body. However, CBD does not directly affect these receptors in the way that other compounds would. Rather, CBD stimulates the body to utilize and release more endocannabinoids.1
Can CBD reduce hunger?
Our ECS helps regulate the function of our hypothalamus — a small but vital region of the brain which controls the release of hormones that regulate metabolism, stress, body temperature, hunger, thirst, etc. And it’s within the hypothalamus that neurons send out a chemical signal telling the brain when you’re hungry and when you’re full.2
Now, it’s no doubt that THC is widely associated with hunger or the “munchies”. However, consuming CBD actually affects the part of our brain where we feel hunger in a much different way.
CBD, unlike THC, has been found to unequivocally antagonize both CB1 and CB2 receptors, which theoretically curbs cravings and promotes weight loss. In fact, studies have shown that CBD helps regulate a healthier appetite by suppressing unhealthy addictive behaviors such as binge eating unhealthy foods like processed carbohydrates and sugary snacks.3 THCV, a lesser known endocannabinoid found in full spectrum CBD products, can also act as a CB1 receptor antagonist, also suppressing similar appetite cravings.4
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How does CBD affect metabolism?
In 2016, a study published in the Scientific Journal of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry discovered that CBD increased the level of mitochondria that is found within the body — allowing the body to burn more calories. Additionally, the study demonstrated that CBD stimulated proteins and genes that help in breaking down fat cells. They also noticed a reduction of proteins expressed in the body that are involved in creating new fat cells, which in turn accelerates a process called “fat browning”. This makes it easier to burn calories and increase energy.5
Some believe that white fat induces many health issues, such as diabetes, heart issues, obesity, etc. And while white fat is responsible for preserving fat, CBD turns white fat into brown, which then turns to energy-promoting weight loss.
Although this study suggests CBD is effective in weight loss, more studies are needed.
Can CBD help with weight loss?
Multiple studies have shown CBD effectively promote therapeutic benefits for people suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, stress, and many other mental disorders. These health issues can contribute to unhealthy eating habits, a reduction in physical activity, and a change in your body’s chemical makeup. Consuming CBD not only helps in regulating a homeostatic balance, but it helps in suppressing unhealthy habits as well.
In the United States, the market for weight loss is enormous. Weight loss products, diet books, meal preps, and gym equipment are advertised to the masses, promising a smaller waist line and healthier lifestyle. For some, these products may work, but for others, nothing seems to help. If you’re planning to lose weight, you may consider making CBD part of your regimen.
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