CBD is a natural plant compound produced by hemp and marijuana plants that is increasingly taking the world by storm. Through growing research and anecdotal evidence, CBD products are reported to potentially help people with a wide variety of health problems, ranging from chronic pain to stress to sleep and digestive issues, concentration, Parkinson’s, and many many others.
What we don’t know so much about is how CBD may or may not help us with weight loss. There has not been ample research looking into this topic, but many people who consume CBD products report that it has assisted them in reaching their weight and fitness goals. In this article, we’re going to explore what we know about CBD and weight loss, what the current research says, and how you can incorporate it into your health and wellness regimen.
How CBD for Weight Loss Works
The potential for CBD as a weight loss or weight regulating aid stems from its interaction with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Discovered only recently, this critical bodily system acts as a biochemical communication network, sending signals to help regulate functions in order to maintain balance. For example, whether it causes pain or swelling or itching, inflammation is often the result of an overactive immune response. The way CBD may help improve those symptoms is by triggering the ECS to temper the immune system’s response, thus reducing the inflammation.
The endocannabinoid system is deeply intertwined with our bodies’ nervous, digestive, skin, and immune systems.
What Is the Endocannabinoid System, Exactly?
The ECS is made up of three primary components:
- Receptors in the nervous system and around your body that endocannabinoids and cannabinoids bond with
- Enzymes that help break down endocannabinoids and cannabinoids
The most abundant cannabinoid receptor is called CB1. However, CB2 cannabinoid receptors, transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, and peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPAR’s) are also engaged by some cannabinoids.
Just as neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine are the chemical messengers of the nervous system, the endocannabinoids are the messengers of the endocannabinoid system. They travel throughout the system and bind to certain cannabinoid receptors in different parts of the body.
Essentially, they carry information about the state of your body and how to correct anything that is wrong. When they bind with a receptor, it triggers the appropriate response. Depending on what the issue is, either a CB1 or CB2 receptor will be triggered.
CB1 receptors are essential for a healthy functioning brain and are one of the most common receptors in the entire nervous system. They are found especially concentrated in the central nervous system areas of the brain and spinal cord. Depending on what region of the brain they are located in, they can be moderators of your memory, mood, motor function, or your perception of pain.
CB2 receptors are most often found in the peripheral nervous system. Specifically, on the cells of our immune system. This allows them to help moderate and respond to inflammation and our immune response to pathogens. If you use CBD products to combat conditions of an overactive immune system (i.e. arthritis, asthma, allergies, autoimmune disorders or digestive issues like inflammatory bowel disease), those are your CB2 receptors hard at work.
Doesn’t Cannabis Give You the “Munchies”?
At this point you might be asking yourself, “how can CBD help with weight loss when smoking marijuana makes you hungry?” Well, you’re correct in thinking that marijuana will often give you the urge to eat, commonly known as the “munchies”. However, that insatiable hunger associated with marijuana is not caused by CBD, rather it’s the result of CBD’s psychoactive, high-causing cousin, THC. THC has the ability to trigger proopiomelanocortin neurons, which normally make you feel full, and block their signal, allowing you to keep on chowing down when you would normally stop. It also increases the hormone ghrelin, which causes you to feel hungry.
CBD, on the other hand, is actually thought to lessen the psychoactive effects of THC, including those associated with the munchies. The only way that CBD may boost your appetite is by helping you overcome things that are hindering your appetite, like nausea, anxiety, and inflammation in the digestive tract.
CBD and Metabolism
As we mentioned before, research about how CBD affects weight loss is still in its early stages. What we do know is that it is most likely related to how the ECS regulates our metabolism and digestion. The endocannabinoid system is made up of metabolic enzymes that stimulate various parts of the body. It does this primarily via two endogenous compounds, anandamide and 2-AG (2 arachidonoyl glycerol), that target CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body.
- CBD and Mitochondrial Activity – Mitochondria are the power centers in our cells. They convert sugars, fats, and proteins into energy. CBD is thought to regulate mitochondrial activity to achieve balance, boosting metabolism when necessary and limiting it when necessary.
- CBD and Fat Browning – In simple terms, fat browning refers to converting white fat (“bad” fat) into brown fat (“good” fat). White fat is what stores excess energy (usually around your gut hanging over your belt) for extreme situations where we may face starvation. The problem with that is that few of us in North America, Europe, and East Asia, among other places, will ever face those situations. So white fat builds up and messes with our metabolism. Brown fat, on the other hand, generates heat and burns calories, meaning that converting white fat to brown fat can help you shed unneeded and unwanted fat stores. According to this study, published in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, CBD may help us transform cumbersome white fat, to energy producing brown fat.
- CBD and Insulin Regulation – An imbalance of insulin in our blood can overwhelm our liver and pancreas, disrupting our ability to effectively process nutrients. An overload of insulin in the blood actually inhibits our ability to burn fat, which is bad news for those of us trying to lose weight. This preclinical study found that CBD helps our bodies to stabilize insulin levels when they are too low or too high and even reported that CBD reduced the likelihood or diabetes in non-diabetic mice.
In addition to the studies mentioned above, several animal studies have also shown that CBD boosted metabolism and reduced food intake in the test subjects. It accomplished this by interacting with the CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the animals’—and our own—bodies.
Other Ways CBD Helps with Weight Loss
CBD is also thought to help with weight loss through indirect means. As we’ve written a lot about in other articles, there is mounting evidence that CBD products may improve sleep patterns, reduce anxiety, minimize stress, and help manage chronic pain and inflammation. Poor sleep, anxiety, stress, and pain can all be contributing factors to weight gain and obesity.
By controlling these other conditions and issues, CBD puts you in a much better position to control maintaining a health weight. If you would like to learn more about how CBD may alleviate or improve these individual conditions, click on the links below:
How to Find the Right CBD Dosage
If you choose to try CBD for weight loss, the most important rule of thumb when it comes to dosage is to start consuming it low and slow. For example, at Urban Roots, we recommend beginning with one of our 1000mg tinctures, as this product allows you to alter your dosage in very small increments as well as allows a quick onset of effects.
If you prefer capsules, the 25mg dose option is available and suggested to be maintained for 3-5 days to allow you to gauge the effects on your body. If all goes well for a few days, and you feel as though that dosage sufficiently helped you to feel better, then you may be good to stay at that dosage. If you think you could do with some more, try two capsules next time.
It’s also a good idea to consult your healthcare professional and get their input about whether you should take CBD and ask if they have any input on dosing. If your healthcare professional is unsure about CBD, suggest they reach out for further information.
Try CBD Today!
Regardless of whether you get your CBD dosage just right or not, or how long it takes you, studies and anecdotal evidence show you probably don’t have to worry about “overdosing” (at least in a painful, dangerous, or life-threatening sense). That means that there is room for experimentation when and if you add CBD to your weight loss regimen.
Losing weight is difficult, and CBD might be the extra boost you’re looking for! Try one of our high quality, lab tested CBD products today.