The Endocannabinoid System
New research is pointing to interesting correlations between cannabinoids, metabolism, and belly fat. Thanks to what we call “the munchies,” stoners are prone to eating more calories per day than non-smokers, but that overage doesn’t reflect in the average pot user’s BMI or waistline. One of the prevailing theories to explain this anomaly has to do with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This network of cell receptors in located throughout the brain and body. It stimulates areas of the brain in charge of movement, mood, and pleasure. Specifically, it controls feelings of pleasure from food, and the regulation of hormones and blood sugar after food consumption. With this in mind, some cannabis researchers suggest that obesity may be a result of a dysfunctional ECS.
Science of Appetite
For example, eating a Lay’s potato chip sends a message to the brain. The brain then then communicates with the gut, where intestinal receptors are told to produce endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids, like anandamide, are chemicals produced by the body. On the other hand, phytocannabinoids, like THC, are those produced by the cannabis plant. The two compounds are nearly identical to each other and therefore attach to the same receptors. These compounds help ramp up the appetite of the chip-eater for more fat-laden foods. This makes “betcha can’t eat just one,” less of cute catch phrase and more of a biological certainty.
CBD Might be the Key
So, if THC starts the bingeing process, why do stoners eat more and weigh less? Experiments conducted on laboratory rats suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) might be the key to restoring healthy metabolic function in the face of THC.
Researchers at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Reading found this when they treated male rats with various cannabinoids. They looked into how each would affect the appetite and consumption behaviors of their tiny subjects. They observed that THC increased the rats’ appetites, but the effects were then mitigated by the administration of CBD. That study is a great example of how cannabinoid studies are essential to clear up the misconceptions of how marijuana affects the body. Additionally, it also illustrates how extravagantly complex and nuanced the ECS is.
Want to learn more about cannabinoids and your metabolism? The following are just three of the many studies that show results relating to cannabis and its impact on body mass, belly fat, and metabolic function.
-One of the most quoted studies depicting the odd science behind marijuana use, diet, body mass index, and cardiovascular risk factors.
-Published in 2006 by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.
-The Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami found that marijuana users are 54% less likely to experience metabolic syndrome. That means they show fewer cases of increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess fat around the waist, high cholesterol or triglyceride levels. All of those increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
-A study published by the Oregon Health and Science University found that heavy cannabis users have an average BMI of 26.7 kg/m. Alternatively, the non-user are an average 28.4 kg/m despite consuming fewer calories.