Obesity is an ongoing and worldwide public health issue. Obesity can lead to further negative health outcomes such as hypertension, diabetes, and even cancer. Notably, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers are the leading causes of death in America. The United States has the highest obesity rate out of any country.
In 2000, 30.5% of adult US citizens were obese. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an obesity rate of 42.4% in 2017-2018.3 Because of these startling numbers and increasing rates, finding treatments for weight loss has been critical. Many medications and supplements have been studied to treat weight loss. One such supplement is cannabidiol, more commonly referred to as CBD.
CBD is one of many chemical compounds that is derived from a marijuana plant. CBD is different from THC, another chemical derivative of cannabis, or marijuana plants. THC has psychoactive characteristics that give people a feeling of being “high;” however, CBD lacks these psychoactive features and will not produce the same feeling.
CBD is legal at the federal level but is illegal under some state laws; whereas, THC is illegal at the federal level but is legal under some state laws. The use of CBD has been promoted for pain and anxiety as well as treatment for other health conditions. However, research is ongoing.5 In this discussion, we will review the use of CBD and its effects on weight loss.
How is CBD used to lose weight?
In addition to the health benefits previously listed, CBD has also been claimed to aid in weight loss. CBD may play a role in boosting metabolism and reducing dietary consumption, which may avoid weight gain. Research in animal studies has shown that CBD affects cannabinoid receptors in the body that control feeding behavior and metabolism.4 Unfortunately, not enough research exists to prove this is true in humans.
Another way CBD may enhance weight loss is by converting “bad” fat into “good” fat. Fat is classified into two categories, white adipose tissue, and brown adipose tissue. White adipose tissue, or “bad” fat, is a storage unit for extra calories.6 People that are overweight or obese have higher amounts of white adipose tissue. Brown adipose tissue, or “good” fat, is responsible for burning energy. People that are at a healthy weight have more stores of brown adipose tissue than people that are overweight or obese. White fat can be converted into brown fat by exercising. One study observed browning of white adipose tissue from the use of CBD. This a promising result of using CBD as an agent to prevent obesity. However, further investigation in human studies is needed.8
Interestingly, regular use of marijuana is correlated with a lower body weight. It is common for marijuana use to increase appetite; a phenomenon well known as “the munchies.” Ironically, some research has shown that obesity rates are lower in marijuana consumers than non-consumers even after adjusting for confounding variables. This is likely because of the effects of THC and CBD on important receptors in the body that control metabolism and appetite. These findings were more prevalent for chronic cannabis consumers, with use at least three days per week.7 Further studies in humans are necessary to conclude this information.
There are multiple ways that CBD may affect weight including boosting metabolism, conversion of white fat to brown fat, and decreasing appetite.