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Does Weed Make You Lose Weight?

“Weed? To lose weight? I thought cannabis gave you the munchies!” Yes, the idea that cannabis could help a person lose weight is a strange one to many people, yet there could be some good reasons as to why this is the case. In fact, evidence shows marijuana users are less likely to be overweight. The question is, “Why?” Leafwell will help answer this question.

The Simple Reason – You’re Aware of Marijuana’s Appetite-Increasing Effects …

… And if you’re aware of something, you’re more likely to take a conscious decision not to do it. If you’re worried about the munchies and gaining weight, then you may decide not to eat that extra portion of chips or piece of chocolate, knowing that it’s the cannabis talking, not the munchies.

Alternatively, because cannabis enthusiasts know they like to eat when using cannabis, they choose healthier alternatives.

Cannabis Makes Sweet Things Taste Sweeter

Given people’s love for sweet things, it might seem unusual that making a sweet thing taste sweeter would decrease your cravings for sugary snacks. “Surely it would make sugary things more addictive?” You may ask. But the opposite might be true.

This is because, if you oversaturate the taste buds with sweetness, your brain is more likely to turn on the “You are satiated” switch sooner. That chunk of candy that hits all the right notes before all of a sudden becomes too sweet, or you love it even more, but you eat less of it.

What seems to happen is that the cannabinoid THC actually increases your desire for fatty and sweet food, but those desires are fulfilled more quickly. Another interesting possibility could be that, due to the sweetness-enhancing effects of cannabis, fruit becomes a more attractive alternative to food with lots of processed sugars.

Sweets, candy, caramel.
Author: Daria-Yakovleva. From https://pixabay.com/photos/caramel-candy-sweetmeats-sweet-1952997/. Public domain picture.

 

Losing Weight With Weed – The Science Bit

As mentioned above, cannabis is often associated with ‘the munchies’. The main cannabinoid (chemical compound in the plant) which causes that hunger is THC. THC is also psychoactive. THC activates our body’s CB1 receptors. This receptor is associated with psychoactive effects and increases in appetite. This is not what you want if you want to lose weight with cannabis.

But you can counteract this with another cannabinoid – THCV. In low doses, THCV blocks CB1 receptors rather than activates them, meaning it does not have the psychoactive effects THC has. THCV therefore suppresses appetite. This has made THCV of particular interest for the treatment of obesity. However, high doses of THCV are psychoactive and can behave like and synergise with THC, so care must be taken not to use too much THCV as well.

Which Cannabis Strains Are High in THCV?

Varieties of cannabis from equatorial regions seem to be higher in THCV compared to cannabis from other regions in the world. These are some of the strains that have tested for higher amounts of THCV, although technically many varieties may contain THCV:

  • Durban Poison
  • Girl Scout Cookies (GSC) – Durban Poison x OG Kush
  • Doug’s Varin
  • Dutch Treat – Northern Lights x Haze (precise parentage unknown)
  • Tangie – California Orange x Skunk
  • Pineapple Purps – Pineapple Express x Purps
Chemical formula and structure of delta-9 THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin). C19H26O2.
THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin, C19H26O2) could help with weight loss. Author: Cacycle. From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabivarin.png. CC BY-SA 3.0.

 

CBD, Diabetes and Insulin

Both THCV and CBD are of interest for the treatment of diabetes type I and type II. This is because CBD and THCV could help regulate glucose levels and prevent insulin resistance. This means that sugars are processed properly, and dangerous levels of glucose aren’t built up.

Another reason why CBD could be of particular help is because of its effects on carbohydrate metabolism – it literally speeds up the processing of sugars! This means that CBD could help maintain a healthy weight.

CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects could make it very useful for the treatment of nerve pain and diabetic neuropathy as well, meaning it can have multi-pronged benefits for a multitude of problems associated with diabetes and eating disorders.

Insulin secretion process at beta cells. CBD and THCV could help regulate insulin levels and insulin sensitivity.
Insulin secretion process at beta cells. CBD and THCV could help regulate insulin levels and insulin sensitivity. Author: BQUB17-Planacampas. From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Insulin_secretion.png. CC BY-SA 4.0.

 

Does Marijuana Help a Person Lose Weight?

Although cannabis users have a lower body-mass index (BMI) than non-cannabis users, there was only about a 2 pound difference between the two groups. However, the results were consistent even amongst those with similar lifestyles. This suggests that, although the effects are modest, careful use of marijuana and cannabinoids can help maintain a healthy weight.

When it comes to losing weight, it is unlikely that cannabis alone will have any major effect. Combined with a healthy diet, exercise and proper sleep, though, and cannabis could very well be a part of a healthy lifestyle.

If you are interested in using marijuana to enjoy a healthier lifestyle, you’ll need to secure a medical card in order to buy and possess high quality marijuana legally. Leafwell can help you see a doctor in our virtual clinic and apply for your state medical marijuana card.

Booking a consultation with a doctor for a physician's recommendation or medical cannabis certificate and medical marijuana card with Leafwell.
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Written by
Dipak Hemraj
Dipak Hemraj - Chief Research Officer

Dipak Hemraj is a published author, grower, product maker, and Leafwell’s resident cannabis expert. From botany & horticulture to culture & economics, he wishes to help educate the public on why cannabis is medicine (or a “pharmacy in a plant”) and how it can be used to treat a plethora of health problems. Dipak wants to unlock the power of the plant, and see if there are specific cannabinoid-terpene-flavonoid profiles suitable for different conditions.

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