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Does Cannabis Make You Lose Weight?

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Cannabinoids increase release of insulin and sensitize the peripheral tissues to enhance glucose uptake that leads to lower blood sugar levels and reduction in obesity risk. Cannabis can increase appetite but long term or excessive use can kill appetite, food intake and metabolism. This lowered appetite leads to reduced blood sugar levels and weight loss.

Right up to the 19th century, Marijuana was hailed for its medicinal properties and was sold in pharmacies. It wasn’t until the Great Depression that the public began viewing it as the “evil weed”. Fast forward a few decades – marijuana is slowly regaining legitimacy (certain components or the whole plant) from a medicinal perspective.1

It is fairly well known that cannabis induces a good appetite. However, there is also evidence to suggest that cannabis is associated with lower rates of obesity.2 3

How Do Cannabis Impact Blood Sugar Levels And Weight?

Improves Glucose Metabolization

Increased appetite doesn’t seem to lead to any significant weight gain in cannabis users – the key could lie in the way cannabis influences our body’s ability to metabolize sugar.

A study conducted in 2013 concluded that Marijuana use was associated with lower levels of fasting insulin and smaller waist circumference.4

Some cannabinoids (THC in particular) simultaneously increase the expression and release of insulin and sensitize the peripheral tissues to enhance glucose uptake.5  Improved metabolization of sugar leads to lower levels of blood sugar and reduction in obesity risk.

Anti-inflammatory and Immunomodulatory Properties

Cannabidiol (CBD) inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokines and modulates the immune system response.6 CBD also reduces the appetite-increasing effects of THC. These properties are beneficial in reducing risk factors for diabetes and obesity.

Extended Cannabis Use Can Inhibit Appetite

Excessive consumption of cannabis can desensitize the body’s cannabinoid receptors, lowering the body’s ability to react and respond to its own endocannabinoids that act as triggers for regulating food intake and metabolism. The implication here is that in the short term, cannabis can increase appetite but long term or excessive use can kill appetite. Lower appetite can translate to reduced blood sugar levels and weight loss.

Could Be Correlation Rather Than Causality

  • Overeating and cannabis are both comforting for the brain; people who indulge in one might not be indulging in the other.
  • Cannabis is often used to stimulate appetite in those who are underweight or suffering from diseases that lead to weight loss.

A Cautionary Note

Due to lack of sufficient clinical trials and studies, marijuana is still not recognized as an FDA-approved medicine. The evidence relating cannabis to diabetes and weight loss is highly complex and of variable quality. Some evidence is anecdotal, while some is experimental (i.e. in vitro) and difficult to extrapolate to humans. Also, the efficacy of herbal cannabis is yet to be ascertained. While there is no evidence to suggest that it is life threatening, it is best to curtail its usage due to its addictive nature.

References   [ + ]

1.Marijuana Timeline, Frontline PBS.
2.Le Strat, Yann, and Bernard Le Foll. “Obesity and cannabis use: results from 2 representative national surveys.” American journal of epidemiology (2011): kwr200.
3.Le Foll, Bernard, et al. “Cannabis and Δ 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for weight loss?.” Medical hypotheses 80.5 (2013): 564-567.
4.Penner, Elizabeth A., Hannah Buettner, and Murray A. Mittleman. “The impact of marijuana use on glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance among US adults.” The American journal of medicine 126.7 (2013): 583-589.
5, 6.Frisher, Martin, et al. “The role of cannabis and cannabinoids in diabetes.” The British Journal of Diabetes & Vascular Disease 10.6 (2010): 267-273.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.