Cannabis contains over 500 compounds. Many of these are cannabis-specific compounds called phytocannabinoids. In fact, over 100 distinct cannabinoids exist. THC and CBD are the most abundant cannabinoids in most strains. Regarding human use, they’re also the most well-known.
As far as therapy, marijuana can treat a variety of conditions. It’s effectiveness stems from interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS. Traditionally, the medical benefits of cannabis center on things like pain, inflammation, and nausea.
Both THC and CBD exist in crystalline resinous trichomes. Trichomes cover the cannabis plant when it’s mature. Although both compounds share the same chemical formula, a differing atomic arrangement ensures unique interactions with the body. Of course, THC produces a psychoactive high. CBD does not. For this reason, CBD is typically more readily accessible to folks across the U.S.
Rather than dwell on legalities, though, let’s focus on how CBD and THC compare in terms of weight loss. Obesity in the USA is now an epidemic. As such, the weight loss industry is booming. But what does this tell you about the industry? If obesity is highly prevalent, and the weight loss industry is booming, maybe these ‘weight loss products’ aren’t too effective!
Fortunately, studies suggest that both THC and CBD may play roles in weight management. Could these 100% natural cannabis compounds provide a new alternative to shedding excessive poundage? Let’s find out.
CBD & Weight Loss
You probably know that people use CBD as a therapy for all manners of medical conditions. This includes things like chronic pain, depression, and seizures. But did you know CBD might also help with fat burning? Studies suggest that CBD is an effective appetite suppressant – and without a doubt, the less you eat, the less likely you are to be fat!
Bizarrely, much of this evidence came from tests on children with epilepsy. For instance, a 2015 study found that CBD reduced seizures by 50% in up to 70% of patients using clobazam, which is a popular anti-seizure medication. One of the ‘negative’ side effects turned out to be a reduction in appetite, but for those seeking an all-natural weight loss measure, this will likely prove to be a boon.
The importance of quality research
Further research has also shown a link between CBD and ‘fat browning.’ When you consume CBD, it helps to convert the white adipose tissue we store into brown adipose tissue. Why is this important? While white adipose tissue increases fat storage, brown adipose tissue enables you to burn more energy. CBD boosts your metabolism, which ultimately leads to a faster rate of fat burning.
A 2016 study by Parray and Yun looked at CBD’s effect on immature fat cells to treat and prevent obesity, and the research staff was amazed to find the following:
- The CBD stimulated genes and proteins that increase the rate of fat breakdown and oxidation
- Activity and prevalence of mitochondria (which improve the body’s capacity to burn calories) increased
- Protein expression involved in fat cell generation (aka lipogenesis) decreased
However, there is one possible issue. If you over-activate the ECS, mainly via the CB1 receptor, you could end up with an increased level of abdominal fat, insulin resistance in muscle tissue, and an increase in your fat cells’ glucose intake.
THC & Weight Loss
One of the most relevant studies regarding THC and weight loss occurred in 2015. It involved treating standard lab mice with varying doses of THC over a four week period. The study found that, overall, the mice that were given frequent doses of the active cannabinoid lost weight, decreased fat accumulation, and reduced their energy intake. Interestingly enough, THC was effective in obese mice but didn’t appear to cause any weight loss in mice that were already lean.
The scientists then studied the intestinal microbes of the mice to try and make sense of the results. Upon examination, they discovered that THC caused changes in the gut microbiome, which they believe was a significant contributing factor in the promotion and maintaining of a healthy weight. Even in humans there are several pounds of microorganisms inside our bodies, and they work alongside with cells in our digestive tract to promote weight loss or gain, break down foods, and ensure good health.
Also, it’s relevant to point out that this particular Canadian study was far from an isolated case. There have been similar studies performed in several European countries, including the UK, Hungary, and Poland. All of them came to a similar conclusion: there is a definitive correlation between the use of cannabis and BMI reduction. Critically, the association appears to be maintained when variables such as age, gender, and reasons for smoking cannabis are taken into account.
Which is better For Weight Loss – THC or CBD?
Strangely enough, marijuana has also been associated with weight gain. Practically everyone who has ever smoked cannabis has experienced the phenomenon known as ‘the munchies.’ These are cravings that are triggered by the stimulation between cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, and the brain’s neuroreceptors.
A 2014 study by Randy and Lori Sansone looked at the effect of marijuana on body weight. Remember, marijuana’s ability to stimulate appetite means it is recommended for cancer patients that struggle to gain weight. Also, the study showed that marijuana was effective when given to patients with HIV as a means of increasing their body weight.
However, a key point that’s often overlooked is that you must consume reasonably large amounts of marijuana in order for it to stimulate your appetite. The Sansone study mentioned ‘acute marijuana use’ and outlines that cannabis tends to help “low weight patients” increase body mass. In other words, it won’t make a heavy or average-sized person fatter. The study even acknowledges that among the general population, “findings consistently indicate that users of marijuana tend to have lower body mass indices than non-users.”
“Weighing in” on the debate
Thus, regarding the THC vs. CBD for weight loss debate, most findings steer towards CBD as the better option. The psychoactive properties of THC make it more likely (but uncertain) to spike your appetite. In most cases, it is much easier to control your CBD intake which means you’re unlikely to experience a bout of the munchies.
And lastly, although we said we would not focus on legalities, it is obvious that CBD is far easier to purchase than THC. With regard to quality products, you can find an assortment of professional reviews and details of reputable CBD oil sellers right here.