Every weed lover knows that THC causes the “munchies.” Its ability to increase appetite is a clear indication of its effect on metabolism. However, THC is but one cannabinoid of more than 100. CBD is another, and science shows it influential on the metabolism too, but in a different way: Research proves CBD safe for fighting obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic conditions.
Science finds CBD directly affecting metabolism. Back in 2016, researchers in Korea published the results of a study in the scientific journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. After carefully analyzing the effects of CBD on immature fat cells or preadipocytes, they made an astonishing discovery: They found that CBD has not one, but three different ways of effecting, what science calls, “fat browning.”
Not only did they discover that CBD stimulates the genes and proteins responsible for breaking fat down, but they also noted CBD boosting the activity and number of mitochondria, which amplifies the body’s ability to burn calories. To the interest of all, they also found that CBD decreases the expression of certain proteins responsible for producing new fat cells within the human body.
Although many in the medical community blamed white fat cells for increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other health conditions, brown fat is the one to burn energy, thereby promoting weight loss and potentially treating obesity. After completing their study, the researchers concluded that CBD is capable of inducing “fat browning,” or in English, it is able to turn white fat into brown fat.
CBD is able to interact with the human body through the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. In addition to specific neurotransmitters and receptors, the endocannabinoid system contains an abundance of metabolic enzymes. Data shows that the endocannabinoid system has a direct connection to several metabolic functions, such as storing energy and transporting nutrients.
In fact, scientists believe that the endocannabinoid system is directly responsible for instigating sensitivity to insulin. Since we already know that THC affects metabolism by stimulating appetite, we know that it makes us consume more calories than we would otherwise. However, a study from 2008 shows that cannabis is able to simulate other metabolic areas of the body and not just hunger.
THC increases metabolism in the gastrointestinal tract, skeletal muscles, and the endocrine pancreas, to name just a few. The endocannabinoid system does the same, through two of its own natural endocannabinoids, namely 2-Arachidonoylglycerol and anandamide. Both interact with endocannabinoid receptors called CB1 and CB2 throughout the body, most notably in the brain.
CBD oil affects the same receptors but in a different way. Instead of increasing calories, it prompts the two receptors to metabolize the calories during digestion. However, you do not want to stimulate the endocannabinoid system too much, or it can have opposite consequences. Overstimulation can lead to insulin resistance, increased fat storage, and abdominal obesity.
As the Endocannabinoid Research Group explains it, when overstimulated, the CB1 receptor can increase the likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome, a condition associated with high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat, and more. However, CBD, a CB1 antagonist, is the complete opposite. Researchers note that it has the properties needed to treat these conditions and others.
Although CBD can reduce appetite, slow weight gain, and lower calorie intake, other cannabinoids, such as CBN, have the opposite effects. A study conducted in 2012, by the School of Pharmacy at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, found that CBD was effective as doing all of the above in rodent tests. However, CBN had adverse effects, increasing both weight gain and appetite, as with THC.
Having said that, and very oddly, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that heavy marijuana use, even among those who consuming THC-rich strains, have notably lower Body Mass Index scores that non-users do. What this all means is that, although science shows CBD affecting metabolism in positive ways, scientists need to conduct more research to understand the role of other cannabinoids in metabolism.