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In people with obesity, though, CB1 receptors become more widespread, especially in fatty tissue. Because of this, researchers believe that there may be a link between the activation of the CB1 receptors and obesity.
A study in 2004 found that mice given a diet similar to what would be found in the wild with simulation of CB1 receptors led to mice being leaner, while a higher-fat diet led to increased obesity. Interestingly, they found that diet-induced obesity and stimulation of CB1 receptors went hand-in-hand, almost like cannabis intake leads to the “munchies.”
CBD and THC alert the body to activate or block certain CB1 or CB2 receptors. While THC can lead to overeating while being high, it has other effects for those trying to gain an appetite back after surgery or long-term illness as the drug can trigger feelings of hunger. The Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior found that partaking in cannabis caused individuals to crave food more frequently and in smaller amounts, albeit with a delay.
Scientists coined the term “micro-dosing” after realizing that certain drugs could have an effect on mood, appetite and more. An October 2019 study looked into the effect of micro-dosing as it pertained to CB1 receptors in certain individuals. It further studied the understanding of genetics and CB receptors to see how cannabis could play a role in issues like obesity and anxiety.
Interestingly, CBD has been linked to appetite suppression. While THC ignites CB1 receptors in many cases, CBD is thought to help calm the appetite, controlling obesity by blocking the receptor.
Research around CBD and the body has also found that CBD plays a role in how the body stores and converts fat. In 2016, researchers found that fats are stored and converted differently when CBD is introduced to the body. CBD has also been shown to increase cell changes (from white to brown cells,) helping to burn fat.
A September 2018 study, published in the International Journal of Molecular Science, explained that the “browning” process could lead the way for other research on CBD-related weight loss. The study also cited that Orlistat, a medication given to children who experience obesity had side effects like “vitamin deficiency, pancreatitis, nephrotoxicity and hepatotoxicity,” creating a risk in treating obesity. CBD is reported to have none of those risks.
As with any introduction of a new drug or treatment, its important that care teams are involved, especially when CBD or THC is introduced to other medications. Whether CBD or THC could play a role in helping to eliminate the U.S. obesity epidemic is continuing. However, so much more research is needed.
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