Cannabidiol — better known as CBD — is a widely popular compound derived from the cannabis plant.
Although typically available as an oil-based extract, CBD also comes in lozenges, sprays, topical creams, and other forms.
CBD may have several benefits, including reduced anxiety, natural pain relief, and improved heart and brain health.
However, little is known about the effects of CBD on weight loss.
This article explores the current research on CBD and how it affects your weight.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of over 100 compounds, known as cannabinoids, found in cannabis.
It’s the second most abundant cannabinoid — after tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — and composes up to 40% of the plant’s extract.
Unlike THC, CBD does not have psychoactive effects, meaning that it does not cause a high.
However, CBD affects your body in other ways. It’s thought to stimulate certain receptors to reduce pain, anxiety, and inflammation.
It stops the breakdown of anandamide — a chemical often referred to as the “bliss molecule” — in your brain. This allows anandamide to stay in your system longer, helping relieve pain and boost brain function.
CBD also regulates the production of inflammatory molecules called cytokines, thereby reducing inflammation and pain.
What’s more, CBD may also help treat symptoms of depression.
However, because human research is currently limited, the full effects of CBD on health are still unknown.
Summary: CBD is a cannabis compound shown to have beneficial effects on health, including pain relief and reduced inflammation. Still, research is ongoing, and CBD’s full effects are undetermined.
Can CBD promote weight loss?
CBD has been purported to improve other aspects of health, including weight loss. A few of its potential effects are outlined below.
CBD may boost metabolism and reduce food intake
Preliminary research suggests that CBD may reduce food intake and boost metabolism, which could promote weight loss.
For example, animal studies indicate that CBD affects weight by interacting with CB1 and CB2 receptors in lymphoid tissue and the brain. These receptors are thought to play important roles in metabolism and food intake.
In a two-week study, rats were injected with CBD daily at doses of 1.1 and 2.3 mg per pound of body weight (2.5 and 5 mg per kg). Both doses produced significant reductions in body weight, with the higher dose having the most pronounced effect.
It’s important to note that CBD was injected, not given orally.
In another rat study, CBD led to a significant reduction in food intake compared to other cannabinoids, including cannabigerol and cannabinol.
While such results are promising, not enough human studies support these findings, and more research is needed.
CBD may promote ‘browning’ of fat cells
Two types of fat — white and brown — exist in your body.
White fat is the predominant form, responsible for storing and supplying energy while insulating and cushioning your organs.
It’s also the type of fat most associated with chronic illnesses — such as diabetes and heart disease — when accumulated in excess.
Suggested read: Peanut butter for weight loss: Good or bad?
On the other hand, brown fat is responsible for generating heat by burning calories. Individuals with a healthy weight tend to have more brown fat than overweight people.
You can convert white fat to brown by exercising, getting adequate sleep, and exposing yourself to cold temperatures.
Interestingly, research shows that CBD may aid this process.
A test-tube study found that CBD led to “browning” in white fat cells and enhanced the expression of specific genes and proteins that promote brown fat.
However, human research is needed to confirm these effects.
Marijuana use is associated with lower body weight
Although marijuana use is commonly associated with increased food intake, those who use marijuana products tend to weigh less than those who don’t.
For example, a review of over 50,000 people noted an obesity rate of 14–17% among those who used cannabis at least 3 days per week, compared to 22–25% for those reporting no marijuana use in the past 12 months.
As CBD is prevalent in marijuana, it’s likely involved in this relationship — although it’s unclear how.
That said, researchers believe that cannabinoids as a whole — including CBD — affect appetite, metabolism, and other weight-related body functions.
Suggested read: Hair loss after weight loss: Causes, risks, and prevention
Summary: CBD may promote weight loss by reducing appetite, boosting metabolism, and encouraging the “browning” of fat cells. However, research is currently limited, and more human studies are needed.
Could CBD promote weight gain?
Although CBD may have a beneficial effect on appetite and weight loss, it may conversely cause weight gain.
CBD has been shown to increase appetite in some studies. One of the most common side effects of CBD treatment is appetite change.
In one study, researchers interviewed 117 parents of children being treated with CBD to control epilepsy symptoms.
Although the parents reported a reduction in epilepsy symptoms, 30% of them claimed that CBD oil significantly increased their children’s appetite.
However, studies show mixed results on the effects of CBD on appetite.
One 3-month study gave 23 children with Dravet syndrome — a type of epilepsy — up to 11.4 mg of CBD per pound of body weight (25 mg per kg). Some children experienced increases in appetite, but others experienced decreases.
Additionally, a recent review of 2,409 people who use CBD found that 6.35% experienced increased hunger as a side effect.
More research is needed to understand the full effects of CBD on appetite, as it seems to vary. Many factors may influence hunger when taking CBD, including genetics and the type of product used.
Summary: Some studies indicate that CBD use may encourage weight gain by increasing appetite — even though others suggest the opposite. More research is needed.
Should you try CBD oil to lose weight?
While it’s unclear whether CBD oil is effective for weight loss, it has been shown to improve health in other ways. It’s relatively safe, with little risk of side effects.
More research — especially in humans — is needed to determine how this marijuana product affects weight. The findings that exist are relatively weak and inconsistent.
Therefore, CBD oil is not recommended as an effective way to lose weight.
It’s best to try other weight loss tips instead — especially because CBD products can be expensive.
Summary: Due to a lack of evidence, CBD oil cannot be recommended as an effective supplement for weight loss.
CBD oil is an increasingly popular cannabis product that is often marketed for weight loss.
However, current research does not show a clear effect on weight.
Though some studies indicate that CBD may boost metabolism while reducing body fat and appetite, others show an increase in appetite.
Until more research is completed, it’s best to rely on other, more evidence-based methods — such as dietary and lifestyle changes — to lose weight.