Can CBD Help with Weight Control?
Because of the “munchies” associated with cannabis consumption, some people wonder if CBD has a similar effect. Does it help with weight control or does it make you hungry — the way marijuana does?
The short answer is that the munchies are caused by THC, which is the main cannabinoid in marijuana. CBD doesn’t work on the human body the same way as THC, so it doesn’t overstimulate our appetite.
While CBD is not, by its nature, an appetite stimulant or suppressant, it may indirectly assist with weight control by helping you keep a balanced diet, get the nutrients you need, and keep your mind active and healthy. It may, therefore, help with weight control in several ways.
CBD, THC, and appetite
Let’s do a quick recap on how CBD and THC react with the human body and how this affects appetite.
Cannabis, marijuana, and hemp
CBD and THC are hardly the only cannabinoids: it is estimated that there are more than 120 cannabinoids in cannabis plants.
Industrial hemp was selectively grown for its long stalks and stems, which were used for many applications such as sails and textiles.
The flowers and leaves of industrial hemp contain significant quantities of CBD but very little THC. Hemp growers harvest the flowers and leaves, which are then processed to extract CBD and produce CBD oil. All CBD products sold in the United Kingdom must be made from industrial hemp.
Marijuana, on the other hand, was grown for its THC content. Its unique properties have been known for millennia across several civilisations and cultures, that used it for medicinal and recreational purposes. Marijuana contains little CBD, but depending on the strain, may contain over 20% THC.
Some countries have legalised the recreational and/or medical use of cannabis but THC and marijuana are still illegal in the UK and categorised as a Class B drug.
THC and the munchies
Why does THC cause the munchies? There are, in fact, several reasons for this.
THC and dopamine
THC interacts with brain neurotransmitters like dopamine, which is the ‘reward’ neurotransmitter, and serotonin. When THC binds with the CB1 brain receptors it releases dopamine and increases our desire for pleasure and satisfaction. In many cases, joy comes from food.
Since fatty and sugary foods are the ones giving us the most pleasure, the brain looks for rich and interesting foods when the dopamine receptors are activated. This is the reason why people experimenting with THC often look for desserts and fat-laden food to satisfy their hunger and desire for pleasure.
THC and a heightened sense of smell
Research suggests that THC may improve our sense of smell. Foods thus become more interesting and appealing.
THC and hunger hormones
Finally, THC interacts with the hunger hormone receptors and alerts them. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone that makes our tummies rumble. Once it’s released, most people head to the kitchen.
THC acts on appetite through several pathways. People on chemotherapy or those who have lost their appetite due to medical conditions often take THC to improve their desire for food and maintain a healthy weight.
CBD works on the endocannabinoid system
CBD doesn’t work in the same way as THC. It binds to different receptors and doesn’t activate appetite-related neurotransmitters. As a result, it doesn’t cause the munchies, and taking it won’t lead you to the fridge to empty a tub of delicious ice cream.
CBD works with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) in a gentle and discreet way. The ECS is responsible for keeping our bodies in happy balance. It helps regulate many functions, such as appetite, mood, temperature perception, inflammation, and pain.
CBD interacts with the CB2 cannabinoid receptors, which are mainly located in the gut and the immune system. Its action, however, is subtle and more indirect. It appears that it helps the body fine-tune itself by using endocannabinoids—cannabinoids produced by the body itself—better and more effectively.
When you take CBD, you support your ECS’s quest to maintain harmony in your body and are giving it a helping hand. CBD seems to nudge your ECS to work better, which is how it achieves results.
In a sense, CBD can help the body recover healthier eating habits: for some, it will be eating less; for others, it will be eating more. The ultimate goal is for the body to reach a healthy weight and good gut activity.
CBD benefits for appetite and weight control
CBD has attracted a lot of attention since its legalisation across many countries. As more research has been directed towards understanding this cannabinoid, one area of interest has been in exploring how CBD may benefit appetite and weight control.
CBD and weight control
It seems that CBD adjusts to each person’s body and helps it achieve a healthier balance. If you were overeating before due to stress and anxiety, CBD may gently help you maintain a healthier weight. If, on the other hand, you have lost your appetite due to a health condition or mental hardship, CBD may help boost your mental state and improve your appetite, thus achieving a better balance.
Brown fat vs. white fat
Another way that CBD may help regulate body weight is through its effect on fat. Did you know that the human body has two types of fat? We have brown and white fat.
Brown fat is considered healthier because it is more readily converted into heat and energy and helps the skin stay tight and healthy.
White fat is the type of fat that shows on your body and insulates it in layers of lipids. It’s also the kind of fat that, when in excess, causes heart disease, diabetes, and other health conditions. Exercise can help you transform white fat into brown fat—but it takes a lot of effort.
Recent research is showing that CBD may help the body turn white fat into healthier brown fat. The result would be a leaner, healthier body and fewer chances of developing fat-related conditions.
CBD and metabolism
How does CBD work on metabolism? If CBD manages to burn down white fat, it may be able to activate metabolism and burn more energy.
CBD and stress
Consistently high stress levels have been associated with poor health and weight gain. That is hardly surprising, as many people turn to stress eating to find solace in food when feeling anxious. Stress eating is associated with cortisol, a hormone released in the body when someone is in danger. Persistently high cortisol levels, as is the case with chronic stress, can cause damage to the body and mind.
CBD has been shown to improve anxiety and stress, particularly by regulating the levels of cortisol. This makes it a potentially helpful ally in maintaining a healthy body.
CBD for gut inflammation
Inflammation is another cause of digestive problems and consequently weight problems. Gut inflammation and problems are closely linked to weight issues: constipation, bloating, cramps, and food allergies are all signs of a malfunctioning gut.
The CB2 receptors that are the most responsive to CBD are mainly located in the gut, so it’s no wonder that CBD may help improve gut health.
When your gut performs well, your body makes the most of the nutrients you get and doesn’t require extra calories. Your endocannabinoid system is in balance and your body is healthy. You eat as much as you need, digest properly, and help your body maintain and normal weight.
CBD for exercise
Exercise should be a desire that comes from within. Poor health, mental hardship, and body inflammation can discourage you from going for a walk or a workout. If you want to enjoy a good exercise routine, CBD may make it easier for you.
Joint and other types of inflammation can make it hard to exercise, even if we are talking about a gentle walk. CBD may help you handle your inflammation and chronic pain, thus letting you enjoy moderate exercise.
You don’t need to become a professional athlete to manage your weight. Small and consistent changes can help your body exercise more and burn some extra calories on the way. With the help of CBD, this may be done in a pain-free way.
Not a miracle drug
From the above, it becomes obvious that CBD may boost our chances of managing weight control.
It should be stressed, though, that CBD is not a miracle drug. It may help people control their weight and reach a safer weight goal, along with healthy diet options and exercise. However, more research is needed on humans to confirm the findings and explore the possibility of CBD becoming a tool against human obesity.
The verdict: CBD may indirectly help with weight control
CBD is not an appetite stimulant. As such, it won’t make you unreasonably hungry. Nor is it an appetite suppressant: it won’t make you eat less, either.
CBD may, however, be a great addition to your daily routine if your gut is suffering from an imbalance and you are looking for a botanical way to help your body make the most of the food you eat.
A well-balanced body finds it easier to manage weight control. A happy mind is equally important to help you sustain a positive stance towards your body weight.
CBD is not going to make you lose weight in a direct way. It may, however, help you achieve your goals and make it easier for your body to control your weight in a consistent way. It helps that it’s non-intoxicating, well tolerated by the human body, and non-addictive. If you wish to try CBD for yourself, check out our CBD oil reviews and our guide to the best CBD oil stores in the UK!