Everyone knows that consuming THC can affect your metabolism by increasing your appetite, causing you to devour every food in sight. This phenomenon is otherwise known as the munchies. But THC is just one cannabinoid. There are over 100 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Most notably, you have CBD, which is another beloved cannabinoid that’s non-psychoactive and presents loads of therapeutic potential. Does CBD have any effect on our metabolism? As it turns out, it does, but in a way that might surprise you.
Research shows that CBD does indeed have a direct effect on our metabolism. During 2016, Korean researchers published a study on the topic in the scientific journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. After carefully monitoring CBD and its effects on immature fat cells, aka preadipocytes, astonishingly, they found that the cannabinoid has not one, but three ways of effecting “fat browning”.
Researchers not only discovered that CBD stimulates the proteins and genes that play a role in increasing the breakdown of fat, but also that CBD can boost the number and activity of mitochondria, magnifying the body’s power to burn calories. Interestingly enough, they found that CBD reduces the expression of proteins involved in creating new fat cells within the body as well.
While many believe that white fat can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and more, brown fat, on the other hand, can potentially promote weight loss by burning energy. Once the study was complete, researchers agreed that CBD has the ability to induce “fat browning”, or in other words, turn white fat into brown fat.
THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM’S INVOLVEMENT IN METABOLISM
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is what helps CBD interact with our body. In addition to receptors and signalling chemicals, the ECS is made up of metabolic enzymes. Research shows that the endocannabinoid system is directly connected to several metabolic functions, such as transporting nutrients and storing energy. In fact, it’s even been said that the ECS is involved in directing sensitivity to insulin.
Again, we all know that cannabis, especially when you’re dealing with strains high in THC, affects metabolism in that it increases our appetite, allowing us to consume more calories than usual. But our hunger isn’t the only thing marijuana can stimulate. According to a study conducted in 2008, the ECS can also stimulate other areas of the body involved in metabolism, including skeletal muscles, the gastrointestinal tract, and the endocrine pancreas, just to name a few.
Naturally, the ECS does the same thing through two endogenous cannabinoids, anandamide and 2-AG (2-Arachidonoylglycerol). These two compounds interface with the two types of receptors, CB1 and CB2, that reside in various parts of the human body, including the brain and digestive tract.
CBD has the potential to assist in metabolising the compounds absorbed from food during the digestion process by prompting the two receptors. On the other hand, you never want to overstimulate the ECS as it can result in opposite effects. For example, overstimulation can not only lead to abdominal obesity but also insulin resistance and even an increase in energy storage in fat cells.
According to the Endocannabinoid Research Group, the CB1 receptor, when overstimulated, can boost the odds of developing metabolic syndrome, a condition that’s associated with adverse symptoms including high blood sugar, high blood pressure, excess body fat, and more. However, the researchers also note that CBD, which happens to be a CB1 antagonist, might just have the ability to treat such a condition and others like it
HE ECS’ EFFECTS ON METABOLISM HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE CANNABINOIDS THAT STIMULATE IT
While cannabinoids like CBD can lower food intake, decrease weight gain, and take away your appetite, other compounds like CBN do the complete opposite. In 2012, a study conducted by the School of Pharmacy at The University of Reading in the UK discovered that CBD did accomplish all of the above when tested on rats. However, CBN had adverse effects, including increased appetite and increased weight gain. THC has the same results. But oddly enough, research suggests that heavy cannabis users that consume strains high in THC have a lower BMI than non-smokers.
What it all boils down to is that although studies show that CBD does affect metabolism in some way, far more research is needed before we can say for sure just how much of an impact this cannabinoid, along with the hundreds of others, has on the body’s metabolism.