By Emily Ledger
There are a number of theories relating to the possible effects of CBD on weight loss and metabolism. However, as with most things related to the cannabinoid, there is little evidence on if, and how, CBD actually influences weight loss. But, what are the current findings?
CBD (Cannabidiol) is the second-most prevalent compound found in the Cannabis plant, behind THC. Unlike its psychoactive cousin, CBD does not cause a ‘high’ but is thought to have a large number of potential health and therapeutic benefits. Most of these benefits relate to anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, but there are signs that the compound may also influence weight.
The Endocannabinoid System Plays a Role in Metabolism and Appetite
While Cannabis is most often linked to an increase in appetite and ‘the munchies’, the truth is actually much more complicated. CBD has actually been seen to decrease appetite in some animal and human studies. The endocannabinoid system (with which CBD and other cannabinoids interact) has proven to have some links with weight management.
Levels of endocannabinoid (CB1) receptors are increased in obesity. One study has found that the deactivation of these receptors may result in a lessened appetite and lower food intake. CBD is known to indirectly interact with the CB1 receptors.
It is thought to do this by causing a change in the structure of the receptors, effectively blocking further interactions. This may be relevant to reduced appetite and food intake in both animals and humans treated with CBD.
CBD May Boost Metabolism and Decrease Food Intake
One study saw rats injected with either 2.5mg or 5mg, of CBD per kg. It was then found that rats that had been treated with cannabidiol experienced weight loss. What’s more, the rats that were given the higher dose of CBD experienced more weight loss than rats that were given the smaller dose.
Although this data seems promising, it is important to note its shortcomings. First of all, the rats in this study were injected with CBD, which is not common practice in the application of the compound in humans. Rat studies are also not always representative of the effects of a compound on humans.
CBD Might Turn ‘Bad’ Fat into ‘Good’ Fat
In test-tube studies, researchers found that CBD actually transformed one kind of fat, into another kind. Body fat tends to either be white, or brown. White fat is used to store and supply energy, and cushion your organs. Brown fat is used to generate heat by burning calories.
Although both types of fat are essential, overweight people tend to have more white fat. Whit fat is also linked to the development of illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. However, white fat can be converted to brown fat through exercise, sufficient sleep, and exposure to cold temperatures.
Researchers found that exposure to CBD led to the ‘browning’ of white fat. They also found that it increased the number of specific genes and proteins that promote brown fat in the body. These results are promising, however, test-tube experiments may not accurately reflect the same process in the body.
More Evidence Needed
As is often the case when it comes to CBD, more evidence is needed. In order to determine the exact effects of the compound on weight loss, there need to be more detailed human studies. Having said this, CBD has been declared ‘safe’ by the World Health Organisation, so giving it a go in responsible doses won’t hurt!