Cannabis is usually associated with the munchies, an oft-used comedic device in endless stoner movies. However, contemporary research is pointing to the ability of some cannabinoids to suppress appetite and actually help with weight loss.
CAN CANNABIS HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT?
An unattributed Rastafarian quote has circulated throughout the decades among the cannabis communities of the world.
“Marijuana is all things to all people”
Although those seven words may sound a bit silly, ongoing research into the effects of cannabis is discovering that it can perform seemingly opposing functions. Depending on the condition being treated, it can behave in different ways. For example, the compounds in cannabis have been known to act as anxiolytics, while also stimulating creativity and physical energy. Similarly, cannabis can simultaneously help control severe pain, yet increase peripheral sensitivity to pleasure.
The word panacea carries a lot of weight, but useful and beneficial applications for cannabis continue to be unveiled. The importance of the body’s endocannabinoid system suggests an intimate link between humans and marijuana. The multi-purpose uses of cannabis are thanks to the vast selection of strains available that feature different characteristics. Unique profiles of active compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes result in specific medicinal and recreational outcomes.
CANNABIS AND WEIGHT CONTROL
Cannabis is equally multi-purpose as a dietary aid. It can help people gain or lose weight. As an antiemetic, it suppresses nausea and stimulates appetite, and has helped many people with eating disorders. These same features have been improving the quality of life for chemo and radiation therapy patients since the ‘70s.
Marijuana can also help with weight loss by suppressing appetite and controlling stress hormones linked to weight gain. Encouraging statistics indicate that cannabis users as a demographic are generally more lean. There are a number of suspected mechanisms at work in the body when using cannabis to help with weight loss.
DON’T STRESS, WEIGH LESS
There is a direct link between high stress levels, cortisol, and weight gain. Using marijuana regularly is a proven way to keep stress under control. The psychoactive compound THC, among other active compounds, can reduce anxiety and stress. Preventing stress in the first place keeps the body from producing unwanted hormones.
The cannabinoid CBD reduces cortisol directly. CBD is the “cousin” of THC, but has no psychoactive effects. In a 1993 study, human test subjects were injected with cannabidiol (CBD). Within 120 minutes, blood plasma cortisol levels had dropped significantly.
Please don’t go injecting CBD, or anything for that matter, into your bloodstream. Medical-quality CBD oil is available, as well as high-CBD cannabis strains for the home medical consumer. Dinamed CBD and CBD Fix Auto are expertly bred for high CBD content.
It has also been uncovered that CBD acts as an appetite suppressant. In a 2012 study, male rats fed CBD daily ate less compared to rats fed a placebo. High-CBD content modifies the effects of THC and actually suppresses the “munchies”.
CANNABIS & THE GUT
Humans really live in a symbiotic relationship with thousands of different creatures, predominantly those in the gut. Up to 2kg of microscopic creatures live in the gut. They interact with our cells in the harmonious dance of digestion. When this ecosystem becomes unbalanced, weight gain can occur.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can rebalance the intestinal biome and encourage weight loss. In one study, obese rodents were given THC over a period of four weeks. During the last week, the dose was increased. The study showed that there was significantly reduced weight gain, fat gain, and energy intake in the obese mice as a result.
Following the study, analysis of the gut microbiome of the mice showed a decrease in weight-causing bacteria. The research, published in PLoS One in 2015, suggests that THC rebalances gut bacteria and promotes a stable metabolism. Control mice of normal weight were given the same amount of THC over the same period. They retained a healthy digestive system and maintained normal weight throughout.
CANNABINOIDS & INSULIN
The potential applications of all the cannabinoids that marijuana contains will take decades to discover. As prohibition dissolves globally, research accelerates and novel substances are being unearthed and trialled.
It is well-known that diabetes and obesity are linked, and controlling glucose intake can indeed lead to weight loss. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows the body to use glucose from carbohydrates consumed as food. Glucose that isn’t used to fuel the body is stored in cells for future use. Insulin helps keep blood sugar levels balanced—an unbalanced system can lead to weight gain and diabetes.
THCV or tetrahydrocannabivarin is a THC variant found in particularly high quantities in sativa strains. The well-respected sativa Durban Poison is high in THCV.
A 2013 study showed that obese mice fed 10mg of THCV daily displayed reduced glucose intolerance and lost weight. This suggests a cannabinoid mechanism for controlling type 2 diabetes caused by obesity in humans.
Alcohol is often the go-to vice for social comparison when it comes to normalising the cannabis viewpoint. Really, the main similarity is how the two should be treated from a legal standpoint. That is where the similarities tend to finish.
Alcohol can come with many health problems. Being drunk is the body’s reaction to being poisoned by alcohol. Being high is the body’s response to the interaction between cannabis and the endocannabinoid system.
Used responsibly, alcohol can lower blood pressure and improve digestion. Overindulgence can cause weight gain and addiction. Marijuana is a calorie-free, non-addictive substitute for alcohol which can cause weight loss. In some places where cannabis is legal, the population is 2–6% less obese than the general population. As an added bonus, alcohol-related road fatalities also drop.
THC and associated cannabinoids activate CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are located in the smooth muscles, the brain and peripheral nervous system, and the immune system.
A 2015 study showed that stimulation of cannabinoid receptors can reduce appetite and prevent accumulation of body fat. Marijuana users as a community are less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome. They have a lower BMI and a lower waist measurement than the general population, and tend to be more mobile.
CANNABIS FOR HEALTH & WELLNESS
Using cannabis for weight loss might seem counterintuitive. After all, one of the most enduring cliches of cannabis smokers is the uncontrollable munchies. Hearst newspapers also used to claim that marijuana users ate babies at depraved, pot-fuelled parties. While the munchies are indeed a true phenomenon in some instances, eating babies is just plain silly. Contemporary investigations into the beneficial effects of cannabis for maintaining healthy weight continue.
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