Early scientific and anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD oil may help people lose weight directly and indirectly. Although more research is needed, CBD holds real potential as a weight loss aid.
CBD Oil For Weight Loss: The Highlights
- Cannabidiol (CBD) is a safe, non-psychoactive compound present in cannabis that has a wide range of health benefits.
- CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates many functions, including metabolism.
- Early animal and human research evidence show that CBD can reduce appetite and body weight and provide related benefits such as lowering blood pressure.
- The most exciting research reports that CBD can encourage the “browning” of fat cells, which turns them into special, calorie-burning brown fat.
- Although CBD shows a lot of promise as a weight loss aid, it is not a magic pill, and more research evidence is needed.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 60 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. These natural compounds are responsible for the health benefits of cannabis.
Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the best-known cannabinoid — CBD is non-psychoactive. This means it cannot get you high. As such, CBD is ideal for people seeking the health benefits of cannabis without the mind-altering effects.
CBD is typically used in the form of CBD oil extracted from industrial hemp. CBD hemp oil is a popular dietary supplement for supporting optimal health and well-being in a wide variety of ways, such as reducing anxiety, pain, and inflammation.
In addition, early research evidence suggests that CBD may help with weight loss.
The Endocannabinoid System
Cannabinoids work by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).
This system comprises of endocannabinoids (cannabinoids made by our bodies) and the cannabinoid receptors they activate. CB1 and CB2 are the only recognized endocannabinoid receptors, but researchers believe there are many more, such as the GPR55.
The ECS plays a major role in maintaining homeostasis — a healthy state of balance. Most notably, it helps maintain the proper functioning of the immune system, inflammation, pain, sleep, mood, stress, and metabolism.
Diet And The Endocannabinoid System
Interestingly enough, our diets are directly tied to the functioning of the endocannabinoid system.
Back in our hunter-gatherer days, the endocannabinoid system and the CB1 receptor, in particular, helped us survive and find food by decreasing energy expenditure, increasing appetite, and having other useful effects such as suppression of anxiety.
This worked well for our ancient diets, which were characterized by high fat consumption and long stretches of time without food.
However, in the present day, our diets have changed drastically.
Food is readily available at all times, and our diets are characterized by high carbohydrate consumption, including refined sugars and over-processed foods. This type of diet can cause CB1 overactivation, encouraging us to consume sugar and overeat.
Does CBD Support Weight Loss?
There is some early evidence that cannabidiol products can support weight loss. On the one hand, research studies report that CBD can reduce food intake and weight gain and cause weight loss at high doses.
On the other hand, CBD can also help people lose weight indirectly, through its other health benefits.
For example, CBD’s ability to reduce pain can encourage people to be more active. While its stress, depression, and anxiety-reducing effects can make it easier to maintain healthy eating habits.
This indirect effect was detailed in an interview with Dr. Rachna Patel and Dr. Michael Verbora, two physicians who specialize in CBD and cannabis.
Both of these doctors prescribe hemp-based CBD for chronic pain, anxiety, and other issues, but note that many of their patients also experience weight loss as a side effect.
CBD and Metabolism
It’s clear that cannabinoids can affect our metabolism. Most notably, THC is known to stimulate appetite by activating the CB1 receptor, leading to the “munchies” experienced by marijuana users.
There is some research evidence that CBD can have an effect on metabolism as well.
For example, CBD may promote the burning of calories by certain fat cells through thermogenesis — the generation of heat. Although it’s far too early to say conclusively that CBD boosts metabolism, we do know that the endocannabinoid system plays a key role in this process.
The Endocannabinoid System’s Role In Metabolism
As noted earlier, one of the functions of the endocannabinoid system is to regulate energy metabolism – the process of generating energy from the food we eat. Indeed, the endocannabinoid system can influence our appetite, food intake, and other metabolic functions such as body fat storage.
Most notably, the CB1 receptor has been shown to play a central role in food intake.
Its overactivation, for instance, has been implicated in both obesity and insulin resistance. Consequently, blocking this receptor is being explored as one potential way to treat obesity.
For these reasons, influencing the endocannabinoid system through the use of CBD and other cannabinoids holds real potential as a new way to fight obesity and promote weight loss.
CBD As An Appetite Suppressant
There is some early evidence that CBD can have the opposite effect to THC, interacting with cannabinoid receptors to suppress, rather than increase appetite.
For example, a 2012 animal study by researchers at the United Kingdom’s University of Reading reported that rats given CBD ate less food, suggesting that CBD may function as an appetite suppressant.
However, this research needs to be confirmed by further studies before we can conclusively say that CBD reduces appetite.
CBD Oil And Weight Loss: What The Science Says
Although research on CBD and weight loss is still in its early stages, the current findings are promising.
In addition to the previously mentioned study of reduced food intake in rats, a similar 2011 animal study from Poland found that rats injected with CBD experienced a reduction of body weight gain compared to those who weren’t.
Furthermore, a 2017 review of scientific literature by researchers from Germany found that weight loss and reduced appetite was a common side effect of CBD in people who took it for seizures.
However, it’s far too early to say anything conclusive about CBD as a weight loss aid. More studies — and high-quality clinical trials in particular — are needed.
CBD and Obesity
Can we use CBD oil for weight loss and fighting obesity? The research discussed above seems to suggest just that. Especially if CBD is combined with a diet and exercise plan.
In addition, CBD can promote weight loss and treat obesity indirectly. As mentioned earlier, taking CBD for other issues — such as anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain — can indirectly aid weight loss by encouraging healthier exercise and eating habits.
For example, a person taking CBD as a natural anti-inflammatory would be able to exercise more, leading to healthier body weight.
Transforms Bad Fat Into Good Fat
Perhaps the most exciting study on the topic of CBD and fat tissue was done in South Korea.
In this 2016 study, researchers from Daegu University applied CBD to isolated immature fat cells from mice. To their surprise, this caused the cells to take on characteristics of “good” brown fat instead of “bad” white fat — the body fat most of us want to get rid of.
Brown fat or “brown adipose tissue” is a special type of body fat high in energy-generating cellular structures called mitochondria. Particularly abundant in babies, this type of fat generates heat and burns calories in the process.
As such, in contrast to white adipose tissue, brown fat can actually promote weight loss and ward off obesity by burning calories.
For this reason, many people refer to brown fat as “good” fat and researchers are currently exploring it as a groundbreaking way to fight obesity and diabetes. If researchers can repeat the findings of this study in humans, then CBD holds serious potential as a weight loss agent.
Reduces The Risk Of Metabolic Disorders
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that includes excess fat around the waist, and elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
As it turns out, CBD can impact all four of these issues.
We’ve already discussed how CBD can help with excess body fat. In addition to this, a 2013 study from the University of Nebraska found that marijuana use was linked with low insulin levels and reduced body fat.
In this study, the researchers assessed 4,657 U.S. adults, 579 of whom were current marijuana users and 1975 were previous users.
They found that people who currently used marijuana had 16% lower fasting blood insulin levels, which is linked to improved insulin resistance and blood sugar control.
In addition, people who used marijuana tended to have smaller waist circumference, meaning they had less fat around the waist.
Furthermore, a 2017 study by the University of Nottingham in the UK reported that CBD can reduce blood pressure in healthy individuals, and other studies suggest that it can also help with heart disease and other cardiovascular concerns.
Finally, there is a growing volume of scientific research highlighting how dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system is linked to obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
All of this evidence highlights the potential of CBD and other cannabinoids in helping with obesity, diabetes, and related metabolic health concerns such as high cholesterol.
The Recommended Dosage For Weight Loss
Despite CBD’s potential to aid weight loss, CBD dosage remains a tricky question. Simply put, there isn’t enough research to suggest a recommended dosage of CBD for most health concerns, including weight loss.
The only direct evidence of weight loss and appetite reduction in humans comes from studies where CBD was used to treat epilepsy, which typically uses high dosages. This lack of scientific evidence is further worsened by the fact that doctors are not trained about cannabis and CBD in medical school.
As it stands, the ideal approach to figuring out CBD dosing is to start low and increase until you experience the desired effects. This means you can gradually increase your dosage over a period of a few days or weeks until you notice an effect.
CBD Oil And Weight Loss: Does CBD Oil Aid The Weight Loss Process?
As described above, there are three pieces of evidence that there is some potential in using CBD oil for weight loss.
First, there is scientific research evidence highlighting CBD’s ability to reduce weight, suppress appetite, and provide other related benefits. Among these, CBD’s ability to “brown” fat cells is the most exciting for clinical researchers.
Second, there is the medical rationale for how the endocannabinoid system regulates our energy metabolism and how its dysregulation is involved in the development of obesity and diabetes.
Researchers are finding more and more evidence that the proper functioning of this system is required for not just maintaining a healthy weight, but a healthy balance of many important bodily functions.
Finally, there is an increasing volume of anecdotal evidence that CBD can help people lose weight both directly and indirectly.
Taken together, these findings suggest that CBD products can aid people’s weight loss efforts.
However, it is important to stress that it is not a magic weight loss pill. Regardless of what the weight loss industry may have us believe, diet and exercise are still the most effective ways to lose weight.
In this sense, CBD should be seen as an addition — rather than a replacement — for a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Does CBD Oil Reduce Weight?
- Does CBD Help With Appetite?
- How Much CBD Oil Should You Take For Weight Loss?
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always check with your doctor before starting a new dietary supplement program.