health | 11.29.2018

CNU explores: Can CBD help you manage your weight?

Adrian Daniel Schramm


With its recent rise in popularity, and advocates promoting its use for everything from eczema to infertility to insomnia and anxiety, CBD concentrates have been called the latest "snake oil" by many.

It's hard to blame skeptics for having reservations about it - especially as some CBD oil brands, due to their low CBD content, are basically snake oil.

But that being said, real CBD oil has proven itself as somewhat of a miracle drug. An increasing number of health benefits have been linked to CBD use, and it has been shown to improve sleep, reduce anxiety and depression, and manage chronic pain. 

(If you'd like to read more about that, check out our article on the uses for CBD oil you (probably) haven’t heard of.)

We'll do our best to unpack the latest research, news, and information for you here, and help you make an informed decision about your own CBD use. Let's start with weight management.

CBD and appetite control

The initial thought when discussing the relationship between weight loss and anything cannabis-based might be, “There’s no way that CBD helps you lose weight if smoking weed gives you the munchies.” 

Here’s where that assumption goes wrong:

As we’ve talked about before, cannabinoids like THC and CBD interact with the human cannabinoid system and produce various effects depending on the dose. THC activates the CB1 receptors, and when it does this, it stimulates appetite, thus, cannabis users often get the so-called “munchies”.

CBD, on the other hand, not only blocks THC’s appetite stimulant effect, but it also inhibits the effects of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. When ghrelin is active, it will tell your brain that your body needs more food – whether it really does or not. So anything that inhibits ghrelin will cause you to eat less because you are simply less hungry.

In this regard, CBD is a helpful component, or, at the very least, not an inhibitor, of weight loss.

CBD and metabolism

There’s only one real way to lose body weight: Create caloric deficit, i.e., use more calories than you take in. One way to do that is by eating less, obviously, as outlined above in how CBD affects hunger. Another way is to increase your metabolism, or in layman's terms, force your body to burn more calories.

According to World Health, CBD stimulates genes and proteins which play roles in increasing fat breakdown. CBD can boost activity and numbers of mitochondria increasing the body’s ability to burn calories. It can also decrease expression of proteins which are involved in creating new fat cells within the body, also known as denovo (new) lipogenesis (fat creation).

Basically, CBD might help your body utilize more fat when it is looking for an energy source to burn. That doesn’t mean you just take the CBD and voila you’re a fat burning machine, but it does mean that, when you go for a run or lift weights in the gym, your body is more likely to use stored fat as an energy source than other sources like glycogen from your muscles or the meal you ate a few hours ago.

Can CBD help you manage your weight? The short answer is a hard maybe: It’s definitely not a magical “instantly lose 20lbs off your waistline” pill (though, try as we might to find it, that pill doesn't exist in any capacity). If you’re doing everything else right. however, i.e. eating a balanced diet, sleeping 7-9 hours a night, exercising daily, and getting a little sunlight every now and then, CBD might be a helpful addition to your lifestyle.

Read this next: Male enhancement + cannabis = One heck of a good time