If you’ve ever tried smoking cannabis, you know about the munchies. It’s a state during which your basic instincts take control and you start devouring everything in front of you. Heck, even spinach tastes good when you’re that high! What we know conclusively is that THC plays a big role in that – it’s a cannabinoid that’s predominantly responsible for making you think that even your own arm would taste good cooked with a dash of olive oil and a sprig of basil. Which leaves us with an important question: CBD and appetite – how do they mix?
We’ve all seen spoof videos making fun of potheads for getting the munchies as soon as they get a whiff of reefer. While slightly stereotypical, there is some truth to it – terpenes found in cannabis, along with THC, can make food seem more delicious, as well as cause cravings. This is especially true when it comes to beginner users.
However, to what extent THC (and CBD) will cause an appetite increase in users depends on several different things:
- Method of consumption – smoking inhibits appetite, at least for a short period of time. So, if you’re smoking (or vaping) your medicine, it’s likely that you won’t have much of an appetite immediately after that. Of course, give it a few minutes – that’s bound to change!
- Veteran or beginner user? – most heavy users don’t experience much in terms of munchies. It might come down to better self-control or familiarity with the process. In fact, people who use cannabis for years are generally leaner, with a lower body mass index.
- Personal eating preferences – needless to say, some people just don’t eat much – or eat to much. As with anything, whether or not your use of THC (and CBD) results in weight gain is very much down to your already established eating patterns. It can either curb them or enhance them.
The use of CBD and other cannabis-related products for health reasons is increasing. It’s normal that this makes people curious about the effects of CBD on appetite – will CBD make them gain weight? Or maybe lose weight? We dug deep to find out what scientific studies have to say about this and here’s what we found out.
THC – The Main Culprit For The Munchies
Before we can move on to the effects that CBD has on appetite, it pays to investigate what studies say about THC and appetite. As long suspected, researchers have been able to confirm that it’s is in fact tetrahydrocannabinol that’s mostly responsible for those food cravings, even when you know that you are full.
THC interacts with our endocannabinoid system, specifically with the cannabinoid receptor type 1. This receptor can be found everywhere in our bodies, from our brain to our gut. And, when activated by THC, it does some strange things that make us think that we are starving, even when we are not.
Here are some of the ways THC tricks our brain into thinking that we are hungry:
- THC boosts dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward-based behaviors. This can lead to an increase in appetite because, fundamentally, eating feels good.
- THC also flips the switch in the brain’s appetite center, tricking into thinking that we need to eat, despite the “I’m full!” signal that our stomach is sending to it.
- By interacting with CB1, THC can decrease the levels of peptide tyrosine tyrosine in your system and, at the same time, activate the mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway. Both actions result in an increase of the hormone ghrelin – also called the hunger hormone. When your ghrelin levels are elevated, your brain starts to crave food because it thinks that it’s starving!
- And, it’s not all THC’s fault! This cannabinoid is also aided by various terpenes that also bind to CB1 in the olfactory bulb, making aromas more intense and every food more flavorful. As if you’re messed up brain didn’t have enough on its plate already!
Some studies show that people with relatively low body mass index can benefit from these when it comes to weight gain – both THC and CBD can contribute to it. On the other hand, as we already mentioned, these effects are not so pronounced with heavy users. Heavy users have built a tolerance and the munchies stop happening. Some data suggests that when heavy users AREN’T high, their appetite seems to be very suppressed.
Where does CBD figure into all of this? On its own, does CBD contribute to weight gain or weight loss? Are CBD and appetite linked in any way at all?
CBD & Appetite Have A Complicated Relationship
Unlike THC, CBD does not bind to CB1 receptors, where it could alter their action and response, and result in an increase in appetite, or have any aggressive effect on the metabolism. The effect of CBD on CB1 is actually antagonistic, which means that it softens the effects of THC, food cravings included.
CBD’s weight management effects actually lie in how it affects your body in other ways. With its anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, and pain-reducing properties, it can stimulate healthy appetite in people who have lost it as a result of an illness.
Dr. Rachna Patel, an MD based in California, had this to say to PopSugar Magazine when it comes to CBD and appetite:
“I’ve treated patients with CBD oil who have had almost debilitating pain, excessive tiredness from insomnia and anxiety that caused things like nervous eating,” she said. “Once these symptoms are better managed, people are better able to take care of themselves, make healthier food choices, exercise more, and live a better quality of life.”
Appetite is usually the first thing to go when people are dealing with any type of chronic or debilitating illness. CBD can be used to mitigate that effect in people who are going through chemotherapy or other treatments for cancer. It’s also beneficial (appetite-wise) to people who are battling an HIV infection and problems that arise from that.
CBD can calm the nervous system and improve one’s mood, thus being useful against stress and anxiety. A more relaxed state of mind helps naturally stimulate appetite. Likewise, a patient who can benefit from the analgesic and antiemetic properties of CBD feels less pain and nausea. An improved condition with minimal pain can boost appetite, allowing patients to be more able to the enjoy food. In addition to relieving nausea, CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects can help an irritated digestive system tolerate food.
One study published in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry Journal in May 2016 actually found that CBD can trigger weight loss. Of course, this was an animal study and confirmation is need through human trials. Still, researchers have found that CBD can:
- Stimulate genes and proteins and enhance the breakdown of fat.
- Increase the number and activity of mitochondria and accelerate calorie consumption.
- Decrease fat cell generation, resulting in less fatty tissue on our bodies.
Needless to say, more research is needed. Still, from what we know thus far, both from lab results and anecdotal accounts, CBD in any form should not cause users to crave junk food, fats, or sugars. It will instead help metabolise food in the right way. Additionally, CBD will treat other conditions that lead to either weight gain or weight loss, bringing the body into homeostasis and ensuring a healthy appetite.
CBD As a Weight Management Option
In this age when many synthetic drugs cause excessive weight loss or weight gain, it’s natural for people to wonder what kind of an effect CBD has on appetite. To which the answer is – it has some, but nowhere near the effect that THC has. In essence, it’s perfectly OK for you to take CBD oil without fearing massive changes to your metabolism.
If your appetite is already affected by an illness or a condition, CBD can help you regulate it by dealing with the symptoms of the illness itself. If you’re hoping to use CBD oil to lose weight, however, you might be disappointed with the results. As Dr. Michael Verbora, the chief medical officer for Ontario-based Aleafia, a medical cannabis care facility, says: “While CBD is safe and doesn’t cause harm, it could just be an expensive oil that doesn’t help in the case of weight management.”
While pinning your hopes on CBD oil to help you lose weight might not be wise, you would be foolish to dismiss its ability to help with numerous other conditions. Check out this extensive post to learn more about the health benefits of CBD. If you have any questions about CalmVape, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!