Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound derived from the plant, Cannabis sativa. The CBD oil is produced by diluting this extract with a carrier oil like hemp seed oil.
CBD is basically a cannabinoid, which binds to receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and modulates the activity of neurotransmitters.
CBD is not psychoactive and the oil confers several health benefits by relieving pain and inflammation.
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Overview of Obesity
Obesity occurs when the body weight and fat percentage falls outside the range considered to be healthy for a certain height.
A sedentary lifestyle coupled with a high-stress environment is the principal cause of excess weight gain.
Benefits of CBD in Weight Loss and Obesity?
The benefits of using CBD to help in weight loss and preventing the development of obesity are mainly linked to its ability reduce food intake and regulate the expression of genes and proteins involved in the progression of metabolic disorders like obesity.
CBD usage inhibits the activity of certain key proteins involved in lipogenesis and fat cell generation.
CBD also causes a negative energy balance by reducing the propensity to consume food during meals and increasing the number and activity of mitochondria which, in turn, increases the energy expenditure of the body.
It also promotes fat burn by promoting the conversion of white storage adipose tissue to brown adipose tissue that helps in oxidation of fats.
1. CBD Lowers Lipogenesis
Lipogenesis refers to the mechanism by which acetyl-CoA (metabolic intermediate) gets converted to triglycerides which are usually the form in which body fat is stored.
Acetyl-CoA generally forms during the metabolism of simple sugars, primarily glucose which is the chief source of metabolic energy.
Under the circumstance of a positive energy balance, the excess energy gets stored as fats in adipose tissue.
Lipogenesis consists of the synthesis of fatty acids as well as their esterification to triglycerides. These products are generally released from the liver in the form of very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol.
They are secreted into the bloodstream wherein they get matured and work to recruit and transport lipid molecules to peripheral tissues. As a result, deposition of fat occurs throughout the body.
De novo lipogenesis from different carbohydrates is usually associated with substantial energy loss in the form of heat.
This process is usually initiated by the pancreatic hormone, insulin, and often inhibited by the excess secretion of the hormone, glucagon. While lipogenesis is required under certain circumstances, excess triglyceride levels indicate obesity.
Inhibiting the rate of lipogenesis and preventing the formation of excess triglycerides are active areas of research.
Affecting the rate of lipogenesis might help in preventing the development of metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. Recently cannabinoids like CBD have shown great potential in limiting lipogenesis.
A 2014 review by the University of Debrecen revealed that the anti-inflammatory nature of CBD helps in limiting excess lipogenesis.
Several other studies have also shown that CBD usage decreases the expression of certain key proteins involved in the process of lipogenesis and thereby prevents the development of obesity.
As CBD helps in inhibiting the process of lipogenesis by preventing the expression of certain important proteins, it helps in preventing obesity and promoting weight loss.
2. CBD Reduces Food Intake
Food intake encompasses several complex mechanisms which combine a number of nutritional signals and behavioural outputs.
It constitutes the behavioural regulation of body weight. Food intake provides the source of energy whose expression is controlled by the metabolism that works in response to the energy requirements.
Eating behaviour is stimulated and suppressed by the signalling systems to maintain a stable internal environment.
Research has established that sensory stimulation is rather significant in promoting food intake.
For instance, the sight, smell, or taste of delicious and hyperpalatable food is more than enough to stimulate appetite even if the energy requirements are completely satiated.
Hunger can be stimulated merely by the thought of tasty foods which are rich in trans fats and sugar.
It can be inferred that pleasure signals have the capacity to overrule the homeostatic mechanisms that control energy balance.
These signals make up the hedonist system which, in light of current research, has shown to play a considerable part in stimulating the sensation of hunger and in enhancing calorie intake.
The excess intake of food, in turn, contributes to the accumulation of fat and abdominal obesity.
Therefore, in order to lose weight and shed excess body fat, it is imperative to control food intake and diminish food cravings.
While several studies noted that cannabinoids like THC increase food consumption, the non-psychotropic CBD has been proven to induce satiety and limit the intake of food.
A 2012 experimental study by the University of Reading investigated the role of cannabidiol on feeding patterns of adult male rats. The study concluded that CBD markedly diminished food intake and this finding supports the anti-obesity effects of this phytocannabinoid.
CBD limits the consumption of food and this property helps individuals suffering from obesity to decrease the overall energy inflow and facilitates weight loss.
3. CBD Affects Energy Homeostasis
Energy homeostasis denotes the process that involves the well-synchronized homeostatic control of calorie intake and calorie expenditure.
The hypothalamus of the brain plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance by generating the sensation of hunger via a number of signalling pathways.
Calorie intake denotes the inflow of energy that has been taken up via food (solid and fluids).
The expenditure of energy or burning of calories primarily consists of the internal heat generated (resting metabolic rate and diet-induced thermogenesis) as well as external work (a measure of physical activity).
When the number of calories expended is lesser than what is consumed, a positive energy balance occurs and this excess energy is stored in the form of fat in adipocytes (fat cells).
While fat storage is necessary under certain conditions such as pregnancy or hypothermia, it is not required in excess because of its contribution to obesity. Weight loss occurs due to a negative energy balance when the expenditure exceeds intake.
Therefore, several studies have been conducted to understand the mechanisms underlying the homeostatic control of energy balance.
Researchers have tested out several compounds to find a component that facilitates a negative energy balance. Recently, cannabinoids have come to the forefront in the sphere of weight loss due to its anti-obesity effects.
A 2017 review by the Nova Institut evaluated the diverse effects of phytocannabinoids like CBD on animal models.
It was established that CBD usage increases both the number and activity of the mitochondria. This, in turn, amplifies the body’s propensity to expend more calories and create a negative energy balance.
As CBD has the ability to shift energy homeostasis towards a negative energy balance by increasing the activity of the mitochondria, it can increase energy expenditure and aid in weight loss.
4. CBD Affects Fat Genes
Sometimes, obesity runs in families as per a prominent inheritance pattern brought about by changes in a single gene.
The gene most commonly involved in the development of obesity is MC4R which is responsible for forming the melanocortin 4 receptor. Changes in this receptor often induce excess hunger and overeating (hyperphagia) which enhances body fat.
Studies have shown that variations in around nine specific genes have increased the risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome.
In fact, no single gene is responsible for the excess storage of fat. Since the late 2000s, genomics and associated research have implicated more than 50 genes in the progression of obesity.
Genes provide the foundation for the signals (stimulus and response) that direct food intake and therefore, even small changes in such genes can trigger major changes and affect the metabolism.
Some genes which are involved in the obesogenic phenotype are FTO which promotes food intake PPARG which stimulates the uptake of lipids and development of adipose tissue.
Therefore, to promote weight loss and prevent the development of obesity, individuals must consume products that modulate the activity of such genes.
Recently, cannabinoids like CBD have come to the forefront as agents that can efficiently downregulate genes that promote the expansion of adipose tissue.
CBD essentially promotes the activity of genes which encode proteins that are involved in the breakdown and oxidation of fats.
In fact, a 2015 study at the Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche has shown that CBD administration lowers obesity by modulating gene and protein expression which are markers of such metabolic disorders.
As CBD helps in modulating the expression of genes and proteins associated with obesity, its usage can promote weight loss.
5. CBD Promotes Fat Burn
Fat deposition occurs whenever the calorie intake exceeds the expenditure.
When the metabolic rate is low yet the calorie intake is excessively high, particularly in the form of high-carb and high-fat foods, accumulation of fat occurs in the adipose tissue.
The expansion of fatty tissue can occur throughout the lifetime of the individual depending upon the requirements and need for storage.
Therefore, to initiate the loss of fat and excess body weight, there has to be a surge in the resting metabolic rate and the metabolic reactions must be focussed on the breakdown and oxidation of fats.
This can be achieved by the consumption of specific nutrients that amplify the metabolism of fats to release energy and, hence, are known as ‘fat burners’.
Thermogenesis is referred to as the release of heat as a direct consequence of the environment or diet. Fat is known to provide insulation as its ‘burning’ or oxidation generates a significant amount of energy in the form of heat.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is commonly responsible for thermoregulation and plays a crucial role in the burning of fat.
White adipose tissue (WAT), on the other hand, is involved in the storage of fats and therefore, the conversion of this kind of tissue to BAT is essential for the metabolism of fats.
Agents that bring about the ‘browning’ of fats are essentially fat burners as they promote fatty acid oxidation.
A 2016 study by the Daegu University evaluated the role of CBD in the browning of 3T3-L1 adipocytes.
The results showed that CBD induced the expression of certain genes, particularly Ucp1, which are markers for the development of BAT.
Therefore, CBD usage helps in converting storage adipocytes to cells involved in the production of metabolic energy.
Phytocannabinoids like CBD have shown remarkable potential as fat burners because they promote the browning of storage adipose tissue and consequently, facilitate the loss of fat mass.
A healthcare provider should be consulted before beginning any medication containing THC.
The dosage depends on the mode of delivery as the CBD products can be orally ingested or inhaled by a vaporizer.
There is no prescribed dosage for using CBD oil to lose weight and treat obesity.
Small doses of 50-60mg should be initiated and the optimum dose should be decided according to the individual’s tolerance level.
CBD, on its own, has very few side-effects. In fact, daily oral doses of up to 500mg can be had for as long as 6 months without causing any unwanted complications.
A 2011 review also stated that very high doses of 1500mg per day can be tolerated for a period of 3 months.
CBD products also contain mild concentrations of the psychotropic agent, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is mostly responsible for any side-effects.
While the amount of THC is quite harmless, some individuals might be more sensitive and hence, it is always recommended to start with small doses.
CBD inhibits cytochrome p450, a class of liver enzymes responsible for metabolizing drugs and hence, CBD usage might affect drug efficacies.
Products which contain larger amounts of THC might cause dizziness, disorientation, nausea, fatigue, impaired balance, hallucinations, and paranoia.
THC-containing products might also cause tachycardia which is a condition wherein the heart rates are substantially raised for a short duration.
Cannabis products containing excessive amounts of THC should also not be accompanied by alcohol.
Pregnant and lactating women should consult a gynaecologist before consuming CBD products.
Caution should also be maintained while administering THC-containing products to children and adolescents as it might affect their CNS differently.
To summarize, it can be said that CBD provides many health benefits that help in treating obesity and promoting weight loss.
It decreases the levels of certain important proteins required for the process of lipogenesis which prevents the expansion of adipose tissue. It also limits the number of calories consumed by reducing food intake during meals.
Furthermore, it promotes a negative energy balance by increasing the total energy expenditure.
This is brought about by increasing the number and activity of the mitochondria. CBD also plays an important role in modulating the expression of certain genes which act as markers of obesity.
Finally, it promotes the browning of white adipose tissue which promotes the breakdown and oxidation of stored fat.