Somewhere around 40% of adults in the US are clinically obese. Even more are overweight. So it’s no surprise that when a new “miracle drug” like CBD is being hyped everywhere you look, people instantly start wondering if it could “cure” being overweight too.
Of course, CBD isn’t a “miracle drug”. It certainly shows many promising beneficial characteristics – potentially helpful for sufferers of all kinds of conditions, including certain types of epilepsy, chronic pain, anxieties and much more.
Yet marijuana and the other cannabinoids it contains – of which CBD is but one – definitely have an effect on your appetite.
So really – does CBD help with weight loss? Or does CBD oil cause weight gain?
Here’s everything you will ever need to know:
What is CBD?
CBD, more properly known by its full name cannabidiol, is one of 113 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are a type of organic chemical which are found in many places in the natural world.
Two of the best-known and understood cannabinoids are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
How do cannabinoids work?
Cannabinoids work by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the human body. These receptors are part of your endocannabinoid system, a number of specialist hormones and neurotransmitters which help regulate communication within your central nervous system.
In order to be counted as a cannabinoid, a compound needs to interact with the endocannabinoid system in a noticeable way. The most commonly used analogy is that your endocannabinoid system is a series of clocks, for which the cannabinoids are the key.
Your body also produces its own cannabinoids (endocannabinoids). When either endocannabinoids or cannabinoids from outside the body interact with your endocannabinoid system, a wide range of effects can be produced.
They can affect anything from your mood to your appetite to your desire for sleep to the amount of pain you experience.
What does CBD do to the human body?
CBD is increasingly being investigated and used because it offers a number of different health benefits when consumed by humans. It’s also of note because it is not psychoactive (that is to say, it doesn’t make you high) and is not addictive. This is in direct competition to many drugs which offer the same sort of effects, yet which are very much addictive.
Currently, the FDA has only approved specific drugs containing CBD as a direct treatment for specific types of treatment-resistant epilepsy. Yet large numbers of people use CBD – commonly extracted from industrial hemp plant rather than the strains of cannabis you might smoke – to address conditions including:
- Chronic pain
- Movement disorders
- Sleeping problems
How can I take CBD?
Another advantage of pure CBD products is that you don’t need to smoke them in order to gain the benefits. Of course, these days you can even access full-spectrum cannabis products in ways other than smoking. But still, it’s a definite plus.
There is a wide variety of ways you can consume CBD, including:
- CBD oils which can be added to recipes
- CDB tinctures which can be taken sublingually or added to foodstuffs and beverages
- CBD-infused edibles like gummies
- Pills, tablets and capsules
- Topical products
It’s THC which is to blame for the munchies
Now let’s turn our eyes to CBD and weight loss. After all, it was wondering if CBD oil can make you gain weight or lose it that bought us here in the first place.
There’s a distinct appetite-related phenomenon associated with consuming cannabis. Colloquially, this is known as “the munchies”.
If you experience the munchies, you suddenly find yourself ravenously hungry and, what’s more, deeply enjoying the food that you’re eating.
A cannabinoid is responsible for this feeling. But that cannabinoid is THC, not CBD. THC:
1. Interacts with a part of your endocannabinoid system in part of the brain linked to appetite and the control of it.
2. Stimulates production of a hormone called ghrelin, which is normally only produced when your stomach is empty.
3. Increases dopamine levels, dopamine being the brain’s “pleasure chemical”.
4. May also work with other compounds found in cannabis to stimulate the brain’s olfactory bulb, heightening the senses of smell and taste.
Can CBD make you hungry?
But CBD does not seem to do any of those things. There is a chance that it may boost your appetite indirectly though:
For example, CBD is known to have anti-emetic properties – it stops you from feeling nauseous. Certainly, you aren’t going to feel very hungry if you also think you’re going to be ill. Thus, CBD may be beneficial for people who are feeling too nauseous to eat.
Similarly, CBD may have beneficial relaxing effects on your digestive tract and nervous system – disruptions with either of which may otherwise impair appetite.
So, while CBD does not make you hungry in itself, the combination of these effects and the appetite-enhancing power of THC will continue to make medical marijuana helpful for many patients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy.
How THC can help with weight gain (and maybe weight loss in the future)
If your goal is to actively gain weight – perhaps you are struggling with your appetite and it is making it difficult to maintain a healthy weight, or you are going through chemotherapy or similar treatment and the side-effects make eating feel undesirable – THC and medical marijuana may hold the key.
Of course, you will want to listen to your physician’s advice before all else. But increasing numbers of physicians are noticing that the medical marijuana that they prescribe for pain relief also helps their patients retain some appetite. So you might not have much persuasion to do to convince your doctor it might be a good idea.
Plus, there’s a definite chance that recent research which has discovered precisely how THC interacts with the human body to cause weight gain may lead to a safe way to develop a method for weight loss.
A drug was developed fairly recently which did exactly that. Unfortunately, it also led to major downsides in mental health. But that’s unlikely to be the end of the story. One day, there could indeed by a magic weight loss pill – and the thing we have to thank might well be THC.
Does CBD oil make you gain weight?
The short answer to this question is no. As we’ve seen above, CBD can be used to give people who are otherwise struggling to eat a chance at regaining some appetite. But, alone, it is highly unlikely to make you gain weight.
In fact, research is currently being done into the comparative weight of cannabis users as a whole compared to that of non-users. The results seem to show that cannabis users actually seem to be leaner.
However, it seems likely that the links are to the quantity of THC a given user consumes and their initial weight rather than to CBD.
Can CBD oil help with weight loss?
The answer to this seems to be a guarded yes – but not directly. CBD can certainly have beneficial impacts on your body which will help you if you are trying to lose weight:
1) Improves mitochondria and metabolic function
Mitochondria are your cells’ batteries. They are responsible for turning the energy we gain from food into energy we can use. When there’s any kind of impairment or blocking of this function, the process is impeded and we can start to gain weight.
Handily, CBD appears to provide a balancing effect (known as homeostasis) for your mitochondria via your body’s endocannabinoid system.
This works well both ways. If you’re underweight, it would mean encouraging your mitochondria to convert less fats and sugars into energy. If you’re overweight, the reverse would be true.
As far as can currently be seen, this is all indirect and obviously requires you to eat healthily and exercise properly. But it’s still a way in which CBD may help you with weight loss.
2) Promotes fat burning (by normalizing insulin levels)
Sugar and fats build up in the bloodstream when we take a lot of an energy in (by eating too much sugary, fatty foods) and don’t use it up (by not doing enough exercise). This isn’t a good position to be in. Because your body stores all of the energy you don’t need from those sugary, fatty foods as fat.
Sadly, your body also gets very used to doing this. So much so, that when you do start to do enough exercise to burn those extra pounds off, it only works for a limited amount of time.
The problem is that a hormone called insulin (which is responsible for transporting sugar into your cells ready to be turned into energy) start to be present in quantities which are too high.
How does CBD come into this? Well, one large-scale study has recently found that CBD and marijuana use can lower insulin levels in people who are fasting. So, if you’re already doing all the right things – eating well and exercising but are struggling to get back down to your old healthy weight – a little CBD might be your friend.
3) Suppresses appetite
Although some of the other beneficial anti-emetic and digestive tract-easing properties of cannabidiol may indirectly enable people to eat more if they are suffering from this kind of discomfort, CBD is actually technically an appetite suppressant.
The way CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system to encourage homeostasis also affects the hypothalamus, the region of the brain which governs our hunger levels.
Lifestyle changes which CBD could complement
None of this is to say that CBD alone is any kind of weight loss wonder drug. But it definitely has properties which can be exploited to support weight loss measures that you have already embarked upon.
1) Eating healthily
The phrase “healthy, balanced diet” is probably one you will be sick of reading if you’re trying to lose weight. But so much of our weight is governed by what we eat that diet is really the only place to start when you’re trying to lose weight.
There’s no magical pill. It will not happen overnight. But you don’t need any fancy diet regimes or crazy fasting programs to understand that if you operate at a calorie deficit – that is to say, you eat fewer calories per day than your body needs – then you will start to burn fat instead.
That’s no reason you can’t enjoy some great-tasting food. There are plenty of recipes out there – and even entire types of cuisine – which offer fantastic flavors as well as being pretty healthy.
But when even the most intense workout instructors and body builders always talk about diet as part of any routine they’re suggesting, you know that it’s the most important factor in controlling your weight.
That’s not to say that getting a healthy amount of exercise isn’t a major contributing factor in maintaining a healthy weight.
Again, if you don’t normally manage to fit enough exercise into your day, it’s probably not healthy to go overboard right at the beginning.
Start by getting more walking in. Plug in your headphones, turn on some tunes or click on your favorite podcast and find somewhere you can be happy to go for a minimum of a 30-minute walk every day.
Then you can start ramping it up.
CBD and weight loss
It’s good to know that CBD be your friend rather than an enemy when it comes to weight loss. But do remember to consider the way you consume it. CBD-infused products can often be things like candy, pastries or sugary drinks which are themselves full of calories.
Try to choose a healthier way to access your CBD if you’re planning to make it part of your weight loss regime. For example, K.I.N.D. edible gummies come in a free sugar-free option. You can also get CBD tinctures which you can take sublingually or add to any healthy meal you’re eating.