Cannabinol (CBD) and weight loss is a subject that is slowly gaining more attention, but is it a marketing ploy or backed up by science.
When you think of cannabis, there’s often a stereotype that you will get the ‘munchies’ and that cannabis can make you fat, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
CBD is just one of the many active cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant and over the past few years, extensive research has been undertaken in order to explore all its benefits.
As well as CBD, the other main active ingredient in cannabis is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The THC compound is responsible for that ‘high’ feeling you get and is also linked the ‘munchies’ (depending on the strain of cannabis). However, CBD doesn’t cause any psychoactive effects, meaning it won’t get you high. This is because CBD oils sold in the UK contains little to no THC. As a result, you will not experience the ‘munchies’ from our CBD oil.
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Is CBD oil a scam?
Before we begin looking at the science behind weight loss and CBD, it’s important to understand that there are CBD oil scams out there. This isn’t so much to do with them claiming CBD can aid weight loss, but the quality of the products they sell.
Scam sellers or low-quality sellers often sell their low-grade products obtained from ethanol (or other solvent-based) extraction. The result is a liquid that contains very little CBD and in such low quantities. Moreover, these solvent-based extracts usually contain unnecessary and potentially harmful components and it’s unlikely you will be able to gain any real benefit from taking these low-grade products.
This is why it’s important to buy your CBD oil from a reputable company that can prove the quality of their oil!
The science behind CBD and losing weight
Although CBD oil isn’t marketed specifically as a weight loss tool, some users who use CBD for other conditions have noticed that it has also had a positive effect on their weight.
Medical studies and research has highlighted multiple times Cannabinol’s effectiveness and success in managing conditions and in some cases, completely curing them, but can the many benefits of CBD aid weight loss as well?
Although CBD isn’t known for weight loss, there’s research that backs up the fact it can shed some pounds.
While there are many studies linking cannabis users to lower body fat percentages and BMI, we’re looking specifically at CBD oil that does not contain THC.
We all have different types of fat in our bodies that serve different purposes. White fat, or white adipose tissue (WAT) is the fat you probably already know about. This type of fat stores energy in large fat droplets and releases it when other organs need it and the accumulation of fat helps keep you warm by providing a type of insulation.
When we eat too many calories, our bodies convert the excess calories into an energy reserve in the form of white fat. Although we need white fat, too much white fat isn’t good as it leads to obesity and a number of other health conditions.
Brown fat or Brown adipose tissue (BAT), is often the type of fat people refer to as the ‘good fat’ and its main function is to turn energy into body heat. The reason it’s brown is that it’s packed with iron-rich mitochondria, which gives its colouring. You may have also heard of ‘beige fat’, this is the exact same as brown fat, but just by a different name.
It was once thought that only newborn babies had brown fat because newborn babies have higher levels of brown fat to protect them from hypothermia.
In 2009, researchers found small amounts of brown fat in adults and this led to them discovering that people with lower body mass indexes (BMIs) usually had more brown fat.
Brown fat activates when the body is in need of extra heat. This can be if a person is cold or if they have a fever. As we get older, the amount of brown fat decreases, which is why you may notice that older people feel the cold more acutely than younger people.
Fat browning is becoming a highly researched topic in the scientific world in hopes it can help in the fight against obesity.
Although more research is now needed in this area, researchers have found that it’s possible to turn white fat into brown fat (fat browning).
One study showed that mice exposed to cold show a temporary “browning” of some of their white fat, this same effect also occurred in some human studies.
Can CBD aid weight loss?
Research on CBD does indeed show that CBD has a direct effect on our metabolism. In 2016, Korean researchers published a study on the topic.*
After carefully monitoring CBD and its effects on immature fat cells (preadipocytes), the researchers discovered that the cannabinoid has three ways of causing ‘fat browning’.
- Stimulate genes and proteins that improve the breakdown of fat.
- Decrease fat cell generation.
- Increase the activity and the number of fat cells’ mitochondria (this increases the ability to burn calories).
CBD and fat browning
Although the researchers were looking at how CBD could contribute to weight loss, they discovered that CBD can, in fact, induce ‘fat browning’, this means that it was able to convert some white fat cells that store energy into brown fat cells that burn energy.
Previous medical studies in animals have shown that by boosting the amount of brown fat cells in an animal, it can also result in improved glucose tolerance and make them more resistant to diabetes.
CBD and weight loss- is it a placebo effect?
Although we’ve looked more at the remarkable fat browning process in this article, it’s important to understand the other ways CBD can contribute to weight loss.
You might hear ‘experts’ saying, CBD is just causing a ‘placebo’ effect. But in all honesty, if you were taking a placebo but somehow you thought it was benefitting you- why should it matter? A placebo effect is a far better treatment than a harmful prescription drug as you’re taking nothing and still benefiting from it. The reason we mention the placebo effect is to dispel this from CBD and weight loss.
As previously mentioned, clients come to use claiming CBD has aided their weight loss although they were taking CBD for other purposes. Some might say this is a placebo effect, but what many people don’t understand is that if CBD is helping to relieve other issues, it might help with weight loss overall.
For example, if you are overweight and suffer from tiredness and a general lack of energy, many people will eat more as a way of trying to increase this energy. Taking CBD oil has proven to help with tiredness, therefore, if CBD helps achieve higher energy levels, you will find that you’re not relying on food as much and with the new energy you have, you will be moving around more which is basic good practice for losing weight.
Another example of getting additional weight loss benefits for people who suffer from medical conditions that restrict movement. For example, a person who is a chronic pain sufferer will find they’re limited in what exercise they can participate in and how much they can move around.
In many studies, CBD is often highlighted for its ability to reduce or completely relieve pain. Therefore, if a person is taking CBD for pain, they may find themselves losing weight as they are able to move around move and increase the amount of energy they’re burning without actually realising it.