Weight loss and cannabidiol – Can CBD protect metabolism?

It has long been known that cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating appetite and metabolism, among other functions. Because of this relationship with metabolism, researchers have been interested in the therapeutic use of CBD in weight loss and obesity.

Most of the available research on CBD and metabolism has been conducted in animals or in vitro studies, not in humans. Take for example the claims that CBD helps to burn fat (weight loss). These claims are based on a test tube study that found that CBD can help convert unfavourable white fat into a calorie-burning type of fat, brown fat, in animal cells.

Animal studies can tell us what to study in humans, but you can’t conclude with certainty that CBD helps you lose weight based on animal studies. Sometimes animal studies are translatable to humans, sometimes they’re not, and that’s why you really need to do human studies to make sure they’re effective. In general, he says, there aren’t many large studies that show CBD promotes weight loss in humans. It may make some people gain weight and others lose weight.

Weight loss and cannabidiol - Can CBD protect metabolism?

There is a little more research on CBD’s parent, cannabis. But cannabis contains hundreds of compounds other than CBD, so they are not at all equivalent. For example, a 2020 study published in Diabetes showed that cannabis users metabolised glucose more efficiently than non-users, but it’s a big step to assume the same for CBD. At present, the American Diabetes Association is on record as saying that CBD is unlikely to improve blood sugar or insulin levels in people with diabetes.

Results from a three-year national prospective study found that cannabis users are less prone to obesity than non-users (despite marijuana’s reputation for making people fat). And a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that cannabis users were less likely to gain weight than people who had never touched the substance.

While there is little evidence that CBD use directly affects metabolism or appetite, it can help control weight in other ways. Many people eat more when they are stressed, unwell or exhausted. If CBD can help manage these issues, it makes sense that it can help reduce overeating. There is evidence that CBD can help in these situations. A retrospective study of 103 patients at a psychiatric clinic who received CBD found that anxiety decreased and sleep improved in the majority of patients within the first month.

Lack of sleep has been shown to increase the release of ghrelin, which increases hunger and appetite. By allowing for a better night’s sleep, it’s possible that CBD may counteract the release of ghrelin, thereby decreasing appetite. And if aches and pains are keeping you from exercising, CBD’s anti-inflammatory action may relieve muscle soreness and fatigue, so you can get back on the move, according to a study published in Frontiers in Physiology in 2021.

What is the impact of CBD on weight loss through “fat browning”?

In a study published in the scientific journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, Korean researchers investigated the effects of CBD administration on preadipocytes (immature fat cells) to explore the potential benefits of treating and preventing obesity. Remarkably, CBD was found to have the following effects:

  • stimulate genes and proteins that promote fat breakdown and oxidation
  • increase the number and activity of mitochondria (which increases the body’s ability to burn calories)
  • Decrease the expression of proteins involved in lipogenesis (fat cell production)

Collectively, these results are based on CBD’s ability to induce “fat browning”, i.e. to convert what is normally white adipose tissue (WAT – white adipose tissue) that stores energy into tan adipose tissue (BAT – brown and tan adipose tissue) that burns it. Previous studies have shown that increasing beige fat in animals improves their glucose tolerance, making them more resistant to diabetes and various blood lipid abnormalities.

How to avoid metabolic dysfunction with CBD

Interestingly, overactivation of the endocannabinoid system, mainly via activation of the CB1 receptor, contributes to increased abdominal obesity (i.e. fat gain in the abdominal belt), glucose uptake in adipocytes (fat cells) and insulin resistance in muscle tissue. This “metabolic dysfunction” sets up a vicious circle in which increased insulin resistance in muscle and liver increases abdominal obesity and overactivation of CB1 receptors, resulting in foraging behaviour, increased appetite and increased body fat gain.

Another study published in 2012 by Farrimond et al, which examined the effects of different phytocannabinoids, such as cannabinol (CBN) and CBD, on the eating habits of rats, supports the theory that different cannabinoids modulate CB1 receptors and increase appetite and metabolism with opposing effects. This study showed that cannabinol increased food intake and weight gain, while CBD decreased food intake and weight gain.

Looking for more ways to increase your beige fat? Try cold exposure and exercise – or better yet, exercise in the cold while supplementing with CBD.

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Published by Sakul


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