Medical marijuana has gained increased recognition as a revolutionary way of treating health conditions (such as anxiety, pain, stress, cancer, and Crohn’s disease) and traumatic injuries. However, researchers have recently discovered another secondary – and equally intriguing – health benefit of medical cannabis: weight loss.
Studies show that cannabis consumption has a massive impact on body mass index (BMI) and the magnitude of the difference in BMI between cannabis users and nonusers is of medical significance.
This finding may appear counterintuitive to many because cannabis is closely linked to the so-called “munchies” – that overpowering appetite that drives users to eat all the snacks after smoking cannabis. It’s even more puzzling since doctors prescribe medical marijuana to HIV/AIDS and cancer patients to help increase their appetite and, consequently, gain weight.
That begs the question: why are medical cannabis patients gaining weight when they need to and losing weight when they don’t? How’s that even possible? And if these findings are anything to go, how can patients harness the weight loss power of cannabis to improve their overall health and wellness?
Why is Cannabis Thought to Help Promote Weight Loss?
Experts have different theories explaining the link between cannabis use and reduced BMI and a lower risk of obesity.
- Cannabis enhances mobility – When properly used, cannabis may relieve symptoms of stiffness and pain. People with mobility issues may get relief and feel more active after using cannabis.
- Reduced alcohol use – Scientists also suspect that younger individuals who use cannabis may consume less alcohol than their counterparts who don’t. That reduces their calorie intake from alcoholic drinks, which decreases their BMI.
- Good sleep – We burn a lot of calories when we sleep. That makes sleep important for weight loss. If you’re an insomniac suffering from poor sleep, it would be best to find CBD-rich cannabis products, as CBD is known to have therapeutic effects, such as the feeling of relaxation.
- Regulated metabolism – Scientific evidence shows that THC interacts with cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1), which plays a critical role in metabolism and food intake. Consuming cannabis frequently increases metabolism, thus reducing energy storage, resulting in a lower BMI.
- CBD and exercise – CBD is believed to increase an individual’s focus on what they’re doing. If you lack the motivation or drive to exercise, CBD may give you the focus you need to overcome your reluctance. However, a high-CBD product, such as this Select unflavored tincture, is recommended for cardio exercises, such as treadmills or cycling, rather than resistance exercises like weightlifting.
THC vs. THCV in Weight Loss
Research shows that the cannabis plant contains 80-100 cannabinoids, but the two most common ones are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive effects; neither is it an appetite stimulant or a cause of weight gain. In fact, it counteracts the effects of THC to neutralize increased hunger sensation. CBD in itself doesn’t cause weight loss, either.
But there’s another cannabinoid called Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), which has unique properties that differentiate it from other cannabinoids, such as THC. For example, like CBD (and unlike THC), it has no psychoactive effects. A study by the Journal of Cannabis Research indicated that THCV decreases appetite, increases gratification, and up-regulates the body’s metabolism, making it a clinically useful product in treating obesity and type 2 diabetes.
THCV also plays a key role in regulating blood sugar levels. Its uniquely diverse properties provide a range of therapeutic benefits, such as neuroprotection, appetite suppression, glycemic control, and reduced risk of side effects.
Cannabis and Obesity Rates
The current trend of cannabis-related weight loss seems confusing to the classic “stoner” stereotypes. Don’t cannabis users consume more calories? How then is it possible to eat more and lose weight? That doesn’t add up. However, research proves that it’s actually possible.
In 2011, the American Journal of Epidemiology released cross-sectional data from two sample populations of 50,000 respondents. While the obesity rates of the two surveys were 22% and 25.3% among individuals who reported not consuming cannabis in the past 12 months, the obesity rates plummeted to 14.3% and 17.2% among participants who confirmed using cannabis at least three times per week. Indeed, increased frequency of cannabis use – despite the related “munchies” – lowers the rate of obesity more than nonusers.
Most people inhale cannabis using vaporizers, such as this Alien OG Gold PAX Pod, but inhaled cannabis has a lower effect on the digestive system. Cannabis-infused edibles like these Khana Pink Lemonade CBD Gummies are particularly deemed to be most effective in weight loss. According to researchers, ingesting THC changes the conditions in the digestive tract to promote weight loss. Scientists have researched the human intestinal environment for years because it seems to greatly influence how we behave and function.
Cannabis and Metabolism
Experts believe that THC might correct imbalances in our endocannabinoid system caused by the typical American diet – which primarily contains a lot of sugar and refined starch – resulting in weight loss. While THC causes a short-term increase in appetite, the body soon adjusts accordingly to burn and store calories more efficiently. Other patients notice a decrease in appetite. These effects may last three to four weeks, which is why an individual may even shed more calories in the three to four weeks after stopping cannabis use. The benefits are still in play during that time, but the short-term spikes in appetite are missing.
Furthermore, researchers believe that weight loss depends on the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the body. They discovered that consuming cannabis can cancel out or decrease weight issues associated with high omega-6 levels. Scientists suggest that infusing cannabis with omega-3 fatty acid supplements may increase the power of cannabis in regulating omega-6 levels.
The world is undergoing a golden age for cannabis research. As scientists race to explore the more complex aspects of medicinal cannabis, it’s critical to understand that the present information is mainly theories. More research is needed to determine what combinations of cannabinoids are effective in weight management and obesity treatment.
However, one message is clear: medical cannabis works, and it’s revolutionizing how we treat health conditions, including obesity. Cannabis helps countless people across the US lose weight in their pursuit of healthier and happier lives. Therefore, if you live in a state that legalized cannabis, consult your doctor or dispensary on experimenting with high THCV strains and heavy CBD products to achieve your weight loss goals.
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