The weight loss industry makes billions a year off of our desires to be healthier or improve our aesthetic appearance. Results from these weight loss plans are rarely permanent, as health and weight loss isn’t just a few months of work but rather a lifestyle choice. But it would seem that toking on some good bud may be a decent slimming strategy in itself. Here’s what you need to know about cannabis and weight management
Chief medical officer of CannaWay Clinic, Dr. Stephen Glazer, says that although research is still in the early stages, there are suggestions that our endocannabinoid system has a great contribution to both obesity and metabolic disorders.
There’s a Connection
The endocannabinoid system is a system of receptors that help maintain balance and homeostasis in our bodies. This system contains CB1 receptors which interact with THC and provide the euphoric “high” effect.
Glazer has said that the CB1 receptor influences energy uptake, storage and conservation. When the CB1 receptor is activated by THC, it enhances our sense of taste and smell and further activates the brain’s appetite centre. Stoners know this as the ‘munchies’. This is why he has noted that patients of his at CannaWay who are undergoing chemotherapy benefit heavily from cannabis, as it helps boost their appetite after therapy has suppressed it.
However, we are here to look at the connection between cannabis and weight loss. Glazer is looking at new research which looks closer at the average Western diet. This tends to consist of many omega-6-fatty-acids and few omega-3-fatty-acids – which tends to signify chronic and excessive stimulation of the CB1 receptors.
So, what does this actually mean? If we look at an ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, it is 3:1. But when we look at the average western diet it is as high as 20:1. The overactive CB1 receptors could potentially throw the whole endocannabinoid system out of balance.
“Excessive stimulation of our cannabinoid receptors (CB1) can result in an increased rate of obesity along with unhealthy lipid profiles, insulin resistance, inflammation, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.” says Glazer.
Which really means that the system keeping our body in balance is actually out of balance thanks to the foods we’re eating.
The Role of Cannabis
It doesn’t quite seem right that the substance so well known for the munchies can assist with weight loss, but research suggests that regular activation of the CB1 receptor with cannabis helps prevent overstimulation in the long term with a phenomenon known as down-regulation.
Glazer has reported that some studies show long term cannabis consumption is associated with a lower body mass index, or BMI, and obesity rates. Which he believes is an exciting development as this phenomenon seems to assist in appetite suppression while increasing the rate at which the body burns calories.
There are more cannabinoids in play here though, as it is not just THC causing this phenomenon. The related cannabinoid, THCV, may block the effect of THC on the CB1 receptors, further suppressing appetite. Recent evidence suggests that THCV may improve connectivity between brain areas associated with appetite – which have been seen to be affected in obesity patients. So THCV may help reduces instances of obesity.
The inhibition of CB1 receptors to suppress appetite is something pharmaceuticals have been looking into as well. Although various drugs have shown promise, clinical trials saw negative psychiatric side effects and research was consequently stopped.
Working with Brown Fat
CBD also seems to play a part in weight trimming. CBD has been shown to increase the body’s brown fat, a unique fat type that burns regular body fat for fuel.
Glazer has said that “This may have a variety of positive effects related to fat cell metabolism and energy expenditure, resulting in a potentially promising therapeutic agent for obesity prevention,”.
He hasn’t necessarily noted lower BMI’s in his own patients, but he doesn’t ignore the growing bodies of evidence. But he is cautious in giving full credits to just a few cannabinoids.
“We must keep in mind that the cannabis plant is composed of over 250 unique chemical compounds and the research is just getting started, focusing primarily on THC and CBD. More research is required for definitive answers, but we are moving in the right direction and the future for cannabis use and research is quite promising.”
Do you find cannabis has helped with your weight management or made it more difficult? Let us know!