Do you have to stop dieting and switch to CBD to lose weight?
For years, the stereotypical image of a cannabis user usually involved a “couche-dwelling” guy with a bag of crunchy snacks.
Famous for inducing the “munchies” and binge eating, cannabis in the past hardly had the image of health and vitality in people. But what about using CBD oil for weight loss?
Multiple case studies and research in people individually have revealed an interesting surprise: the people who use cannabinoids have statistically a lower body weight and a lower BMI when compared to non-use of CBD.
So, do you need to phase out your diet and switch to CBD? Read on to learn what we know so far about CBD oil for weight loss.
Weight loss and the Endocannabinoid system
Better body composition in cannabis users compared to non-users may sound paradoxical. But an explanation may lie in the function of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is a complex network of neurotransmitters and receptors. It is found throughout the body, but is primarily found in the nervous system and the immune system.
The neurotransmitters include substances called "endocannabinoids". The body ensures that messages are passed to cells via the receptors. Plant cannabinoids - or phytocannabinoids - such as CBD work in the same way as the endocannabinoids.
As with other body systems, there is a range of normal activity. When the balance of the system falls outside this range - in the direction of underactivity or overactivity - dysfunction occurs. Many studies report that in the case of obesity, diabetes and the metabolic syndrome, there is clear evidence for one endocannabinoid system hyperactivity.
Alicia Salazar, a certified health coach from New York State, uses CBD with her clients to maximize their health outcomes. "I don't view CBD as a magic bullet for weight loss," she said. “But CBD along with a healthy diet - a diet that includes healthy fats, whole grains, grass-fed meat and dairy, and lots of vegetables, without processed foods and sugar - sets the tone for a healthy weight. And for some, of course, that could be weight loss. “
How can CBD oil help with weight loss?
The first stimulus that encourages individuals to gain weight is often simple. It's just a matter of an imbalance between calories in and calories out. However, the long-term effects of this hypercaloric state are not always so easy to reverse.
Correcting a calorie deficit in calories sometimes works for weight loss, but it can be difficult. First of all, cutting calories makes people feel hungry, which can be incredibly uncomfortable. Second, weight gain can cause changes in hormone levels and balance, metabolic patterns, inflammatory state and balance in the endocannabinoid system.
Sustainable weight loss requires a return to healthy balance in these body systems. Studies have shown that cannabinoids are not only effective for regulating the ECS, but can also positively influence the dysfunction that occurs in other systems.
Ric Tyler, a certified holistic cannabis practitioner, has found that balance is essential. "I have used and recommended CBD for homeostasis (balance in the organism) and to properly adjust the endocannabinoid system so that it can properly support other bodily processes," he says.
In his practice, Tyler has found no evidence that CBD works directly to facilitate weight loss. On the other hand, he has discovered that it may correct the imbalance that would otherwise occur regularly with weight loss.
What does the evidence say about the use of CBD oil for weight loss? Read on to find out more about the latest research.
Insulin resistance and increase glucose uptake by CBD
An important characteristic of obesity and diabetes is insulin resistance. The normal metabolic process follows a repeatable pattern:
- Food is consumed
- Blood sugar levels rise
- The pancreas releases insulin to send that glucose to the body's cells
- The cells use the glucose to make energy.
In circumstances where eating patterns chronically release too much glucose, the system goes wrong. Body cells can no longer absorb glucose, so they become resistant to the signal from insulin to let the simple sugar enter the cell.
Because it is so dangerous for blood sugar levels to remain high, the pancreas secretes even more insulin. Ultimately, glucose levels drop from the unusually high levels of insulin. That causes you to feel sluggish, hungry and vulnerable and then repeat the cycle. This puts you in the “blood glucose roller coaster”.
Dietary changes are the most important action that individuals can do to get rid of the roller coaster. But CBD can help with this.
A 2018 study showed that the cannabinoids THC, CBD and CBN increase cells' ability to take up glucose. And they even outperform metformin, a common drug prescribed to lower elevated blood glucose.
Mitochrondial Dysfunction and the impact of CBD
Metabolism is a major problem both at the cellular level and at the whole body level. Using the input to extract energy is the way the body can perform its normal functions.
Mitochondria are the energy factories of the cells. When insulin releases glucose to the cells, the mitochondria transform it into energy. But when insulin resistance occurs, the mitochondria also experience dysfunction.
Not only does mitochondrial dysfunction occur in unbalanced glucose conditions, but it can also play a role in cancer. Healthy mitochondria are essential for lasting vitality.
In 2016 a laboratory study observed the impact of CBD on the metabolic function of fat cells. This study noted a marked improvement in mitochondrial function with the use of CBD.
CBD inflammation and braking
Cannabidiol's ability to improve inflammatory conditions is well documented. Within the metabolic disorders, inflammation is consistently present. One of the more insidious actions of inflammation in this condition is that found in the pancreas.
The increased activity of the pancreas in an attempt to secrete extra insulin can cause inflammation throughout the gland. That chronic inflammation can actually destroy the beta cells, where insulin is normally secreted. This downward spiral reduces the body's ability to make insulin - a dangerous pathway that can lead to diabetes.
Another research from 2016 showed that one over-stimulated endocannabinoid system contributes to this inflammation. The application of CBD corrected part of the dysfunction. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD alleviate inflammation and possibly save pancreatic function. These actions can save people from diabetes.
Body fat and CBD gene expression
Increased body fat is one of the biggest risk factors for obesity and diabetes. Although this seems obvious, the mechanisms of the process are not necessarily simple.
Not all fat cells are created equal. The most dangerous type of fat cells are “white” fat cells, which often gather around organs and stress their functioning.
The more benign type of fat cells are "brown" fat cells, which are often referred to as "baby fat". This softer fat is easily used by the body to maintain body heat. White fat is much more difficult to lose.
The aforementioned study that found improved mitochondrial function with CBD use also noted that CBD stimulates gene expression in white fat cells. This initiates the “browning” of these cells. This mechanism shows promise in converting hard-to-lose white fat into an easier-to-burn form. In addition, researchers found that CBD reduced the rate of new fat cell production.
Deliver damage and the anti-inflammatory qualities of CBD
Another marker of obesity and diabetes includes damage to the liver cells. The liver is an important organ in the conversion between stored energy forms and usable energy forms in the body. Overloading that system, such as with a high fructose intake, can have disastrous consequences. Inflammation in the liver indicates the onset of dysfunction and possibly non-alcoholic fatty liver.
In 2015, researchers analyzed the impact of two non-psychoactive cannabinoids - CBD and THCV - on metabolic dysfunction.
The results indicated that these substances are the reduce build-up of triglycerides in the liver. In addition, they improved insulin resistance and lowered blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes. The anti-inflammatory qualities of CBD partly take on these improvements.
The verdict on CBD oil for weight loss
The evidence weighs heavily on the health of the endocannabinoid system which is inseparable from the health of the whole body. In fact, measuring levels of endocannabinoid activity is a newly proposed marker of metabolic health.
Overall, this recent research shows great promise in the development of new potential therapies that are effective and safe for obesity and diabetes.
However, it is important to remember that these areas of study are still very new and early stage. This makes it difficult to predict how far their reach and impact will be. Combined with lifestyle and dietary changes, prescribed cannabinoid use will most likely be a critical intervention and important addition in the future of obesity and diabetes management and recovery.