CBD & Weight Loss

April 29, 2022

Can CBD Oil really help with weight loss? We take a look at some of the ways in which CBD has been shown through scientific research to help people finally shift that stubborn fat; from CBD oil’s ability to reduce stress, to its effects on metabolism. By understanding the root causes of weight issues, we can start to see how a natural remedy for obesity such as CBD oil can really support our health journey.

Stress Reduction

How does stress cause weight gain?

“You can stress yourself fat” is a popular saying that’s been making its way through wellness circles for a while now, and it has a strong basis in science. The process by which stress leads to a higher body fat percentage is actually very simple and easy to understand, but it’s not something that we are taught from an early age, or are even taught at more advanced stages of science education. CBD oil can help with weight loss by reducing stress levels, but first let’s take a look at how stress causes weight gain.

Obesity is accepted today by medical professionals worldwide as being a chronic disease. As with any disease, the best way to cure it is to look at the cause of the problem rather than simply attempting to treat the symptoms, which often leads to the disease reoccuring over time. It’s quite easy to see how this principle applies to treatment of obesity, as any of us who have tried multiple diets but still ended up gaining the weight back will know. Too often we try to treat the symptoms of obesity (e.g. high body fat percentage) through methods such as dieting and exercise, without really looking at the root cause of the problem.

People often assume that a bad diet is the cause of obesity, but very few look for the cause of the bad diet. Our bodies have an ancestral reaction to stress, viewing it as a threat to life, which prompts our ‘fight or flight’ response. Our cortisol (the stress hormone) levels rise, in turn stimulating higher levels of insulin. Higher insulin leads to a drop in blood sugar, as the body uses our sugar stores for energy in this potentially life-threatening moment (to help with fighting or fleeing). A drop in blood sugar causes us to crave junk food, as sugar/carbs can be turned into energy by our bodies much quicker and easier than food such as protein. The problem is that this ancestral process isn’t translated very well in our modern world, as we very rarely literally fight or run following a stressful incident. We’re more likely to sit down, put Netflix on and reach for the comfort food. And there we have it: unused sugar gets turned into fat and stored in the body.

Stress → Increased Cortisol Levels → Higher Insulin Levels → Drop in Blood Sugar → Craving Junk Food

How can CBD oil help manage stress?

CBD oil has been shown to have an effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a biological system of enzymes and protein receptors throughout the body that are expressed through our nervous system. The endocannabinoid system helps us regulate our emotions, and also plays a part in how our body learns to respond to stressful situations.

Many studies looking into the effects of CBD on stress have shown it to lower cortisol levels and reduce feelings of anxiety. The way CBD oil does this is through affecting the activity of the main ECS receptors, known as CB1R and CB2R.

CB1R activation helps reduce stress through dampening the endocrine response to stressful situations. The endocrine system is our body’s messenger; in stressful situations it makes sure that we are flooded with cortisol (in preparation for that ‘fight or flight’ response we spoke about earlier). Dampened endocrine response = lower levels of cortisol in our body.

It is believed by many medical practitioners that humans today have an ‘endocannabinoid deficiency’. Taking CBD oil can help balance your endocannabinoid levels to make sure your body’s natural stress management is optimal.

Boost Metabolism

Recent studies have found the endocannabinoid system to be integral to metabolic control. CB1R plays a part in regulating our appetite, energy metabolism, and insulin resistance. All of these things contribute to body weight, so it’s worth taking a look at how CBD oil can help make sure these processes are running smoothly.

Reduce Metabolic Inflammation

It’s no secret that CBD can reduce pain, but did you know that all pain in the body is caused by inflammation? Our metabolic system itself can experience inflammation, leading to limited function. Metabolic inflammation has been identified in many cases of people who suffer from metabolic problems. The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD oil can reduce metabolic inflammation, to make sure our metabolism is working optimally.

Stimulate Digestion

CBD oil has been shown to stimulate digestion, and is often used as a treatment for IBS. Once again, we look at the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD, and how it can calm the lining of the intestines and stomach. Tackling inflammatory problems of the digestive tract means that we can better digest our food, which in turn leads to increased nutrient absorption.

If we’ve changed our diet to incorporate good, healthy foods, we want to make sure that those nutrients aren’t being wasted. A lack of nutrition leads to chronic overeating, as our body asks us to give it more food in the hope we’ll provide the nutrients it needs. It’s easy to see how digestive problems can lead to a vicious cycle of nutrient deficiency and chronic overeating, eventually leading to weight gain.

Brown Fat Cells

Whilst many of us trying to lose weight may believe all types of fat are the enemy, this isn’t true in the slightest. The type of fat that we’re typically trying to lose is made up of white fat cells. This is the podgy yellow-ish substance you can easily find pictures of online (Google what 1lb of fat looks like and thank me later). Whilst white fat can be detrimental to your health, brown fat cells have been shown to be a good friend of metabolic activity.

Brown fat cells are structured differently to white fat cells, containing far more mitochondria. As you may remember from biology lessons at school, the mitochondrion is the “powerhouse of the cell”, burning calories to produce energy. Brown fat cells are activated when you get cold, burning energy to make heat in your body, a process known as thermogenesis. You might have seen videos of athletes subjecting themselves to cold temperatures, or heard people recommending cold showers for weight loss. This is a proven way to stimulate your metabolism but, in order to take advantage of thermogenesis, we need to have good stores of brown fat cells in our body. Because of this, scientists have conducted research to find ways of creating more brown fat cells in the body.

Studies have shown that CBD oil can help turn white fat cells into brown fat cells, stimulating metabolic activity and calorie burning. Because of the impressive results, scientists have started considering CBD oil as a treatment for obesity.

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