Can CBD Help You Lose Weight?
In this article, we explore the early research that suggests CBD may act as a weight loss supplement, and take a look at the products available.
Published: Wednesday 10 February 2021
Let’s be frank, losing weight is rarely an easy task. Making changes to your lifestyle, such as altering your diet and starting regular exercise, is no small feat. It takes commitment and strong willpower to make consistent improvements in pursuit of your weight goals. Whilst there are a handful of MHRA-approved prescription weight loss treatments available, some people may seek other options to optimise their weight loss strategy. A quick internet search will likely produce a plethora of both scientifically-backed and entirely anecdotal weight loss remedies, and sorting fact from fiction isn’t always easy. Recently, there has been increasing discussion around the use of CBD in assisting with weight loss, but how does the evidence stack up?
How Does CBD Relate to Weight Loss?
Our body naturally produces cannabinoids, linked to the endocannabinoid bodily system, which is involved in many physiological processes such as appetite, mood, pain-sensation, and memory. Additionally, the endocannabinoid system helps to regulate our metabolism, as well as being associated with balancing energy levels. The cannabis plant contains hundreds of different cannabinoids, CBD (cannabidiol) being one of these, and so the weight loss health claim relates to the supplementation of our system with CBD to alter our appetite and encourage a more efficient metabolism. But does the preliminary scientific research support these claims?
What Does the Research Indicate?
Early research is certainly promising in confirming a positive link between CBD and weight loss, as we explore in further detail below:
Unlike the other well-known cannabinoid THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana), CBD is not associated with stimulating the appetite, in fact, the very opposite is true. Whilst THC stimulates the CB1 receptor, releasing a hormone that encourages the intake of food, CBD performs the reverse, acting as a CB1 receptor antagonist. A 2018 study from Rossi et al. highlights the application of this in appetite reduction and controlling obesity.
Additionally, CBD can stimulate the CB2 receptors, decreasing inflammation and reducing appetite, further helping to reduce obesity.
Converting White Fat into Brown Fat
Brown fat is a functional fat that creates the warmth needed to help maintain your body’s temperature. By contrast, white fat stores extra calories for use when the body needs more energy than it’s getting from food. When the body needs more functional stored energy, it naturally converts white fat to brown fat. Unlike the white fat typically stored in the thighs, hips, and stomach, brown fat is stored in small amounts in the neck, collarbone, spinal cord, and kidneys. Interestingly, it is able to store more energy in less space than white fat can, and lean people usually have more of this brown fat than overweight people do, as do women relative to men. White fat is consequently sometimes referred to as “bad” fat and is linked to an increased risk of many chronic conditions, including diabetes and heart disease.
Research has uncovered the ways in which CBD interacts with fat in the body. A 2016 study found that CBD aided in the conversion of white fat cells to brown fat cells. This means the body is able to burn more fat overall, leading to a loss in body weight.
Reducing Risk of Metabolic Disorders
Obesity has links to numerous metabolic disorders, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Research indicates that overactivation of the body’s CB1 receptors is partly responsible for these conditions. An animal study found a CBD treatment was efficient at reducing cholesterol in obese rats by 25%, with the additional benefit of increasing liver health.
Which CBD Products Can I Use?
Companies are now exploring various methods to receive the benefits of CBD, from consuming oils and gummy sweets to applying creams and balms to the skin. Here are some popular products currently available:
CBD is most commonly found in the form of an oil. Products like the Vitality Oral Drops or Dragonfly CBD Oil use these carrier oils as a vehicle for the active ingredient, with a pipette allowing for easy application under the tongue. The oils come in numerous flavours, such as lemon or berry. These oils can even come in an oral spray form for more convenient on-the-go use.
Creams and Balms
With CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties, producers have expanded to products applied to the skin. Vitality’s Skin Cream is a great way to get your CBD whilst helping treat acne, or alleviating symptoms of eczema and psoriasis. They also make a great Muscle Body Balm that can reduce pain and soreness by helping fight inflammation.
Confectionery is the fun and novel way to take CBD, now appearing in a chewy sweet form such as Vitality’s Gummy Bears! CBD gummy bears are both easy to consume and appealing in flavour, however, the added sugar makes these less ideal than oils and creams in the pursuit of weight loss.
Whilst the early research highlights the relevance of CBD supplementation when trying to lose weight, it is important to think of it as just that: a supplement. The active ingredient is not currently approved by the MHRA as a treatment for obesity, and should not act as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise. With that said, there are numerous studies indicating the positive effects of cannabidiol, so it’s definitely worth complementing your weight loss journey with CBD.
For clinically-proven weight loss medication such as Orlistat and Alli, check out our full range of prescription treatments.
- Rossi, Francesca et al. (2018) “Role of Cannabinoids in Obesity.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 19,9 2690.
- Thomas, A et al. (2007) “Cannabidiol displays unexpectedly high potency as an antagonist of CB1 and CB2 receptor agonists in vitro.” British journal of pharmacology vol. 150,5: 613-23.
- Parray, H.A., Yun, J.W. (2016) Cannabidiol promotes browning in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Mol Cell Biochem 416, 131–139.
- Dong, Ziqi et al. (2018) “LH-21, A Peripheral Cannabinoid Receptor 1 Antagonist, Exerts Favorable Metabolic Modulation Including Antihypertensive Effect in KKAy Mice by Regulating Inflammatory Cytokines and Adipokines on Adipose Tissue.” Frontiers in endocrinology vol. 9 167.
Authored by Toby Watson
Pharmica Medical Writer
Toby (BSc) is an experienced medical writer, producing educational articles on many areas of health including sexual health, fitness, nutrition and mental health.
He particularly enjoys debunking misconceptions around heath conditions and their treatments, researching each topic in detail and writing easily-accessible content.