Some people believe CBD helps you lose weight. Is this true?

CBD could help you avoid turning into a fat bastard, like this. Photo: MIKI Yoshihito

CBD could help you avoid turning into a fat bastard, like this. Photo: MIKI Yoshihito

CBD promotes weight loss by blocking CB1 receptors

CBD could assist with weight loss due to its effects on the body and brain. Its effects on the body are mostly down to how it affects the cannabinoid system via the cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. The brain and central nervous system are the most common places where CB1 receptors can be found while CB2 receptors mostly arise in the immune system. If people are obese, CB1 receptors are more widespread, particularly in fatty tissue.

CBD could help people to lose weight by suppressing their appetites. People feeling hungry after smoking cannabis is why it’s associated with increased appetite. CBD on its own, however, doesn’t do this.

When THC stimulates CB1 receptors, production of a certain hormone, ghrelin, increases appetite. As proved by one study in 2018, CBD blocks CB1 receptors. The same study also noted that stimulating the CB2 receptors reduces food intake. A study in 2012 found CBD to reduce appetite in rats. That’ll be the best you could hope for. In the words of Martin A Lee, a co-founder and director of the Californian non-profit organisation Project CBD and author of Smoke Signals: a Social History of Marijuana, “most of what we have to go on is what CBD does to mice and rats.”

Brown fat good, white fat bad

White fat is bad. It raises the risk of many chronic conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. CBD seems to convert white fat into brown. A study in 2016 found this. Here, not only were white fat cells turned brown, but the body broke down fats more efficiently. Another reason to prefer brown fat cells to white is that they burn off energy as heat, whereas white fat stores it.

As noted by a study in 2018, obesity is closely connected to several metabolic disorders, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. This could be because of overstimulation of CB1 receptors. A review by Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research noted some highlights of past studies of CBD and metabolic factors in animals. For example, treatment with CBD lowered cholesterol by 25% in obese rats. While it was at it, CBD’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties seemed to decrease blood sugar and increase markers for liver health.

OK, so don’t forget that a healthy diet and regular exercise are the best ways to lose weight

Of course, the best way to achieve weight loss is a healthy diet and regular exercise, but you can make a start with CBD.

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