CBD Basics – What You Need To Know
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second-most prevalent of many naturally occurring compounds (called cannabinoids) in the cannabis plant – this includes both marijuana and hemp. It is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that is responsible for the “high”, not CBD. There have been many proposed benefits of CBD use, and researchers are working hard to validate (or disprove) any claims. Although CBD shows promise in many areas, it is still relatively young in the public eye and many results are only preliminary. The FDA has recently approved a CBD treatment for Dravet syndrome (characterized by epileptic seizures), but most users tout benefits for anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. At this point, CBD has been found to be mostly well-tolerated by most people with only mild potential side-effects. It is important to note, though, that CBD is not strictly regulated – this means that companies are responsible for their own product standards. For this reason, it is critical for consumers to make sure that they buy from brands that provide lab-testing results and are transparent about their product ingredients.
CBD and Weight Loss
Recently, some brands have started marketing CBD as a weight loss supplement. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll go over what we know and what we don’t know about the connection between CBD and weight loss.
Appetite, Metabolism, and the Role of Leptin
In 2012, it was shown that CBD significantly reduced food consumption in rats over a time period, as opposed to THC, which significantly increased food consumption over the same test period (you may have heard of the “munchies”). This was one of the first good signs – rats are usually a good indicator of how humans would react in a similar situation.
In 2018, the connection was made that CBD acts on the CB2 receptor – the same receptor which has been proposed to regulate leptin. What’s Leptin? Leptin is a molecule that is released by adipose (fat) tissue that regulates metabolism and satiety (feeling full). Obese individuals have been shown to be leptin resistant – a potential hurdle to weight loss that many people are not aware of. If CBD works against leptin resistance, it could promote proper food intake, bodyweight control and metabolism.
In the same 2018 study, it was proposed that the CB receptors were responsible for fat “browning”. Before we talk about browning, let’s talk a little bit about body fat. There two main types of fat in the human body: brown fats and white fats. Brown fat is the fat that your body uses to create body heat – it is that fat that you burn when losing weight, which has led to its nickname the “good” fat. White fat, on the other hand, deals with long term energy storage.
When you are born, your fat is predominantly brown, but as you age, white fat becomes the most common. “Browning” is just the process of white fat developing more of the good brown fat characteristics that make it easier to burn. CBD, through its action on the CB2 receptor, is now thought to enhance this browning process.
So, what now? It seems like there’s a lot of good evidence for CBD to help with weight loss, right? Right. We are waiting for clinical trials to be carried out to prove that, without a doubt, that CBD is beneficial to weight loss.
The Bottom Line
In a discussion of weight loss, a supplement that helps you on your way is certainly appealing. However, we need to remember that taking a supplement should not be the only action taken in an effort to lose weight. Anyone trying to lose weight should incorporate a caloric deficit into their plan that can be achieved through diet and exercise.
Even though there is growing evidence pointing towards the potential for CBD as an effective weight-loss supplement, there isn’t enough yet to make a medical recommendation. For anyone considering trying CBD for these purposes, we suggest that you talk with your doctor, buy from a reputable company, and keep up-to-date with the new research.