CBD (cannabidiol) is a well-renowned and popular element derived from the cannabis plant. It is commonly used as an oil-based extract, although there are several alternative forms available including transdermal CBD patches, CBD capsules and topical CBD creams.
The therapeutic potential of CBD is yet to be fully determined, however, there is ever growing evidence supporting this cannabinoid as effective medicine in the treatment of asthma, anxiety, depression, acne, and chronic pain relief. Preliminary studies have also shown CBD to improve heart and brain health.
In addition, despite being limited, there is evidence of CBD as an effective therapeutic in weight loss which will be reviewed in the following article.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of over 100 compounds, known as cannabinoids, found in the cannabis plant and accounts for approximately 40% of the plant’s extract. This compound is the second most abundant cannabinoid after tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), however, unlike THC, CBD does not cause any psychoactive effects - meaning it does not cause the high that individuals experience when smoking or consuming marijuana.
CBD has many other effects within the body which are beneficial to health. For instance, CBD is thought to interact and stimulate certain receptors to reduce pain, anxiety, depression and inflammation.
Studies have also shown CBD to both stimulate and inhibit activity of the inhibitory glycine-receptor. This prevents the breakdown of a fatty acid neurotransmitter, anandamide, in the brain. This allows anandamide to remain in the body’s system for longer, alleviating pain and improving brain function.
CBD is also effective for pain management due to its immunoregulatory effects. This means CBD regulates the synthesis of a large number of proinflammatory genes and molecules such as cytokines; which can reduce inflammation and pain.
Despite CBD becoming increasingly popular, human research is ongoing with the full effects of CBD on health yet to be fully determined.
Can CBD have a Significant Effect on Weight Loss?
CBD has been highlighted as potentially improving other aspects of health, such as weight loss. The investigated potentials are detailed below.
CBD as a Metabolism Booster and Reducing Food Intake
Initial research using animal models has provided evidence of CBD being an effective treatment in reducing food intake and could potentially boost metabolism which promotes weight loss.
For instance, a study using hyperphagia (an abnormal desire to eat) induced rats, described a decrease in appetite following administration with CBD (20mg/kg). This positive effect is thought to have been observed due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of CBD. Furthermore, chronic administration of CBD for 14 days (with 2.5 or 5 mg/kg) significantly reduced weight gain in the animal models.
Another study evaluated the effect of the endogenous cannabinoid system to the regulation of food intake and energy balance by analysing the effects of repeated CBD administration on the body weight gain of rat models. Rats were administered with injections of CBD (2.5 and 5mg/kg) for 14 consecutive days, with both doses of CBD significantly decreasing weight gain, although, the effect was more pronounced in rats receiving the higher dose of CBD. Furthermore, another study using a similar protocol, reported CBD to significantly decrease the food intake of the animal models more than other tested components (cannabigerol and cannabinol).
Collectively, these preliminary investigations provide promising results with CBD suggested to positively influence weight by interacting with CB1 and CB2 receptors in lymphoid tissue and brain. These receptors are known to have critical roles in metabolism and food intake. However, human studies are limited and those which have been performed have not supported results from animal studies. Hence, further research using larger human cohorts is required.
CBD Could Promote ‘Browning’ of Fat Cells.
The human body is composed of two forms of fat – white and brown adipose tissue. White adipose tissue is the main form of fat which stores and supplies energy whilst insulating and protecting vital organs. When stored in excess this form of fat greatly increases the risk of chronic disease such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Brown adipose tissue functions by producing heat by burning calories. People with a healthy weight often have more brown adipose tissue than overweight and obese individuals. It is possible to convert white adipose tissue to brown through exercise, regulating sleep patterns and exposing yourself to cold temperatures. Of note, studies have shown CBD to enhance this process. In vitro s tudies using cell cultures have shown treatment with CBD promoted ‘browning’ in white fat cells and increased the expression of certain genes and proteins that stimulate brown fat production. Further research using human subjects is required to confirm these findings.
Could Using CBD Result in Weight Gain?
Despite CBD showing a positive effect on appetite and weight loss, it could potentially also cause weight gain. CBD has been reported to enhance appetite in certain studies – with some stating the predominant side effect of CBD treatment to be a change in appetite. For example, a recent systematic review of 2,409 individuals reported 6.35% of participants who regularly use CBD to have an increased appetite as a side effect.
One clinical trial interviewed the parents of 117 children being treated with CBD to alleviate epilepsy syndrome. Overall, parents reported a reduction in epilepsy symptoms but approximately 30% claimed the CBD oil to greatly enhance their children’s food intake.
Although, clinical trials have provided mixed results in terms of CBDs effect on appetite. For instance a trial using 128 adult and 162 child subjects with drug-resistant epilepsy reported daily administration of either 10 or 20 mg/kg/day to significantly reduce monthly seizure frequency. However, 19% of the individuals who participated in the study reported a decrease in appetite as an adverse effect of CBD treatment.
Further investigations are necessary in order to fully understand the full effects of CBD on appetite, as it seems to differ between individuals. Several factors could influence hunger when taking CBD, including genetics and the form of product used.
Is CBD Oil an Effective Stimulator of Weight Loss?
Although it remains unclear if CBD oil is effective for weight loss, there is an ever-growing amount of evidence to suggest it is beneficial to health in many other ways. It’s relatively safe, with limited risk of side effects. Although human studies are relatively limited, promising effects of CBD on weight loss have been shown, with further human trials required to fully elucidate its effects on weight.