Cannabidiol, or CBD, an extract from industrial hemp plants is gaining a reputation as a weight loss supplement. This may seem surprising given that its nutritional ‘cousin’ marijuana, is associated with the munchies and increased snacking – so what’s the evidence that CBD can help with weight loss?
How CBD helps you lose weight
CBD, or cannabidiol is an active ingredient extracted from the stems and leaves of specific strains of industrial hemp plants. These plants naturally have very low levels of the psychoactive substance, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) found in the flowering heads of marijuana cannabis plants.
THC stimulates receptors (CB1 and CB2) that can affect appetite and food intake, which explains the munchies associated with cannabis use. However, CBD works in a different way to THC, and does not bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors, and does not create a ‘high’. CBD may even interact with CB1 receptors to stop their over activation. Instead, CBD enhances the effects of other brain chemicals, such as serotonin and anandamide.
CBD also works in a different way to the endocannabinoid drug, rimonabant, which was briefly available as an anti-obesity agent. Rimonabant worked by artificially blocking the cannabinoid CB1 receptors to produce weight loss. However, this blockage was associated with increased incidence of anxiety and depression and was therefore withdrawn from the market. Cannabidiol works in a more natural way, and interacts with the endocannabinoid system without binding to CB1 receptors. As a result, CBD promotes relaxation and general wellbeing, improves sleep quality, and reduces the anxiety which might otherwise contribute to comfort eating, food cravings and snacking.
How CBD burns fat
CBD has beneficial effects on metabolism and stimulates fat burning to help boost weight loss. In fact, cannabidiol causes white fat cells to act more like brown fat cells so you burn more fat to generate heat.
CBD does this by switching on or increasing the activity of at least 8 genes involved in the breakdown of fat, and decreases the activity of at least 3 genes involved in the production of new fat and fat storage. CBD also increases the number and activity of mitochondria – they tiny cell structures that act like cell batteries, burning fat to generate energy. These exciting findings have led to CBD being explored as a potential new anti-obesity treatment.
CBD also binds to a receptor called TPRV-1 which regulates body temperature, as well as reducing perception of the pain and damping down inflammation.
Another way in which CBD improves your metabolism is by increasing the regulation of insulin, and cannabidiol may offer additional benefits for people who are overweight and have metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes.
Best CBD dose
Cannabidiol (CBD) is available in the UK as capsules, gummies, drops, oral sprays and even a CBD water.
A typical dose is 6 mg to 10 mg, one to three times per day, or 15mg once or twice a day.
CBD is accepted as both safe and well tolerated in healthy volunteers, with few side effects. A World Health Organisation report stated that cannabidiol does not have any potential for abuse or to cause harm, and it is therefore not scheduled as a controlled substance.
NB If you are taking any prescribed or over-the-counter medicines, check with a pharmacist before taking CBD. CBD interacts with enzymes involved in metabolising some drugs so that their levels may increase. This is particularly true for medicines that also interact with grapefruit juice.