Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a natural cannabis compound that is gaining popularity for its natural health benefits. This bodes the question, what is the best CBD oil for weight loss. Using CBD with other popular diet choices such as a healthy smoothie might help but will taking CBD work to lose weight?
People are taking CBD oil for pain, acne, depression, and more severe conditions like cancer, MS, and to fight Alzheimer’s. When it comes to using CBD for weight loss and weight-related conditions (like diabetes and metabolic disorders) can it help? Or is CBD just another hyped up rumor?
First, What Is CBD?
Let’s start with the basics first in case you don’t know what CBD is yet. CBD is just one of the many cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant, along with THC, CBG, CBC, CBN, and others.
The cannabis plant also contains other beneficial plant compounds like terpenes and flavonoids. CBD alone, or in combination with other cannabinoids and terpenes, is thought to alleviate anxiety, act as a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent, and act as a neuroprotectant.
CBD Oil Scams
Many companies are quick to overstate product claims and pass along anecdotes and hearsay about the miracles of CBD. Another issue is that research on cannabis and CBD is coming out faster. Some writers and marketers fail to keep up or misinterpret research findings.
With that said, there has not been much research done directly on CBD for weight loss. Speculations are based on emerging research. The understanding of how the endocannabinoid system works in the body also plays a part. It is also important to remember that most CBD research is still being done on animal models, which differ somewhat from the way a compound would behave in the human body.
Can CBD Help with Weight Loss?
Tetrahydrocannabinol’s (THC) ability to stimulate the appetite is so renowned that it has its own nickname- the munchies, but not all cannabis strains produce the effect. You won’t get the munchies from CBD products that are made from hemp, but does CBD help weight loss in other ways?
Research from 2016 found that CBD can influence a process called “fat browning4.” This is the process that turns regular white fat cells (adipocytes) into brown fat cells that are burnt off easier. Brown fat cells help fuel the body’s production of heat, a process called thermogenesis and get burned up when our bodies work to keep us warm.
On the other hand, white fat cells can contribute to conditions like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. So converting white fat to brown fat helps reduce the risk of those chronic conditions. A 2018 study elaborated on CBD’s role in fat browning. They showed that by antagonizing CB-2 receptors with compounds like CBD, the thermogenesis process of converting white fat cells to brown fat cells is stimulated5.
Two other mechanisms CBD may act through to encourage weight loss are lipolysis and suppression of lipogenesis4. These two processes are the destruction and creation of fat cells. CBD can help mark white fat cells for destruction by stimulating CB-2, which in turn increases the number of markers on the white fat cells that mark it to be destroyed through lipolysis.
CBD as an Appetite Suppressant
A 2012 study investigated the ability of CBD to suppress appetite in rats. Human studies such as this one have yet to be performed. Researchers found that taking CBD oil did reduce appetite and proposed that it did so by blocking CB-1 (cannabinoid 1 receptor)1. While THC is a CB-1 antagonist that will bind to the receptor and activate responses like intoxication and appetite stimulation, CBD is a CB-1 agonist.
That means that CBD binds with CB-1 in a way that blocks it from activating5. Further investigation into the role of cannabinoid receptors in obesity affirmed that mechanism. It was also noted that in mouse studies, mice who lacked CB-1 were more protected from obesity.
CB-1 activation increases the body’s sensitivity to a protein called leptin5. Leptin plays a role in food intake, body weight, and metabolic regulation. This is significant because leptin reduces endocannabinoid production, reducing the natural homeostasis of the endocannabinoid system and the other nervous system processes associated with ECS regulation, like insulin production.
CBD Could Boost Your Metabolism
The body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) responds to endocannabinoids naturally present in the body, and to plant cannabinoids like those found in cannabis. Different cannabinoids influence the ECS through receptors, namely CB-1 and CB-2 (cannabinoid 2 receptor). The CB-2 receptors that CBD brain function works through are distributed throughout the body, while CB-1 receptors that are activated by THC work mainly in the brain and central nervous system.
When CB-1 receptors over-activate the endocannabinoid system, it may contribute to obesity and fat gain along the midsection4. This is because CB-1 receptor activation encourages glucose uptake and conversion into fat cells5. Another effect of CB-1 activation is increased insulin resistance in muscle tissue.
Overall, overactive CB-1 receptors may lead to a cycle of metabolic dysfunction where insulin resistance in muscles and the liver increases abdominal obesity and greater food-seeking behavior. This cycle of increased appetite and increased body fat gain can fuel obesity and encourage related disorders like diabetes. In theory, CBD helps metabolic function overall by blocking these effects and encouraging thermogenesis-based white to brown fat conversion and suppressing inflammatory factors.
Inflammation and Fat Cells
Fat cells can actually play a role in inflammation by releasing the inflammatory factors TNF-a and IL-65. These inflammatory factors can lead to muscle and joint pain, and other increased risks like obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and cancer.
TNF-a and IL-6 expression inhibit factors like adipokines which protect against obesity. Inhibition of CB-2 receptors was shown to encourage TNF-a and IL-6 production, while stimulation of CB-2 receptors by compounds like CBD can reduce inflammatory factor expression in the body.
THCV for Weight Loss – Is Diet Weed Real?
A 2017 study of weight gain in teenage to adult cannabis users could not positively link increased BMI to cannabis intake3. One theory proposed by the authors was that the appetite increase from THC activation of CB-1 could be overpowered by increased metabolic rates from other cannabinoids. One small study even observed a 28% increase in the metabolic rate of cannabis smokers.
While the effects of CBD on CB-1 and CB-2 may contribute to this, another cannabinoid is gaining even more interest is tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). THCV is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with antioxidant properties and the ability to activate CB-2 receptors and block CB-1 receptors2. It is actually a stronger activator of CB-2 than CBD, so it could have stronger benefits.
THCV has been shown to produce weight loss, decreased body fat, and leptin concentrations that increased energy expenditure properties in animal studies. These anti-obesity activities and cannabinoid receptor interactions of THCV could also diminish the appetite-stimulating function of THC3.
2013 THCV Weight Loss Study
A 2013 mouse study observed that THCV did not significantly affect food intake or body weight gain, but produced an early and transient increase in energy expenditure6. Depending on the strength of the dose administered, THCV had stronger or weaker inhibition of glucose intolerance, improved glucose tolerance, and increased insulin sensitivity. The researchers also observed that THCV restored homeostasis of insulin signaling.
It is thought that through CB-1 inhibition, THCV can even remove the rewarding feeling of eating! THCV may be found in some formulations of CBD oil that include other cannabinoids and terpenes, but you will not find it in CBD isolate. Most people are experiencing THCV through smoking or vaping marijuana strains that contain high THCV levels.
High THCV Strains of Cannabis
- Durban Poison
- Girl Scout Cookies
- Cherry Pie
- Face-Off OG
- Jack the Ripper
- Pineapple Purps
Final Answer: Is CBD Oil for Weight Loss a Scam?
Worldwide, nearly 1.9 billion adults are overweight, and 600 million are obese5. A healthy diet and lifestyle are usually the best solution to weight loss, but ensuring endocannabinoid system homeostasis and up-regulating CB-2 activation with CBD may also be helpful.
There is no final answer to the direct effects of using CBD for weight loss in humans. However, there is strong evidence that the endocannabinoid system can influence metabolic and physiological processes that play a role in how our bodies crave and process food and energy. If you’re taking CBD oil to lose weight it could possibly work for you, but you may want to steer clear of products like CBD gummies.
The following weight-related effects are possible according to research:
- Stimulate genes and proteins that encourage the breakdown of fat
- Increase the number and activity of mitochondria, thereby increasing the body’s ability to burn calories
- Decrease the expression of proteins involved in fat cell creation
- Farrimond JA, Whalley BJ, Williams CM. Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Sep;223(1):117-29. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22543671
- Garcia, C., Palomo‐Garo, C., García‐Arencibia, M., Ramos, J. A., Pertwee, R. G., & Fernández‐Ruiz, J. (2011). Symptom‐relieving and neuroprotective effects of the phytocannabinoid Δ9‐THCV in animal models of Parkinson’s disease. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1495-1506. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165958/
- Jin, L. Z., Rangan, A., Mehlsen, J., Andersen, L. B., Larsen, S. C., & Heitmann, B. L. (2017). Association between the use of cannabis in adolescence and weight change into midlife. PloS one, 12(1), e0168897. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5218547/
- Parray HA and JW Yun. Cannabidiol promotes browning in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Mol Cell Biochem (2016) 416:131–139. Retrieved from:
- Rossi, F., Punzo, F., Umano, G. R., Argenziano, M., & Miraglia Del Giudice, E. (2018). Role of Cannabinoids in Obesity. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(9), 2690. doi:10.3390/ijms19092690. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27067870
- Wargent, E. T., Zaibi, M. S., Silvestri, C., Hislop, D. C., Stocker, C. J., Stott, C. G., … & Cawthorne, M. A. (2013). The cannabinoid Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) ameliorates insulin sensitivity in two mouse models of obesity. Nutrition & diabetes, 3(5), e68. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3671751/