CBD for Weight Loss
by Deb Powers
CBD for weight loss? A growing body of evidence suggests that CBD oil may help support weight loss in a number of ways. While very little research has specifically targeted the effects of CBD oil on obesity and weight loss, scientists have found enough information to justify a closer look. Here’s what the evidence says about CBD oil for weight loss.
CBD Oil and Fat Browning—An Explanation
Fat browning is one of the new buzzword phrases associated with CBD oil. You’ll read that CBD oil promotes fat browning, which can help you lose weight. Sounds cool—but what exactly does it mean? Here’s the down-and-dirty explanation for non-scientists.
White Fat and Brown Fat—What’s the Difference?
When scientists discuss fat browning, they don’t mean the delicious, crispy-juicy rind on a perfectly grilled steak. They’re talking about two different types of fat in the human body, usually referred to as white adipose tissue (WAT)—that’s a scientist for fat—and brown adipose tissue (BAT). While both are fat, they have distinctly different functions. White fat stores energy for later use—it’s literally making you fat. Brown fat helps the body burn fat. According to researchers, BAT is “a powerful sink for draining and oxidation of glucose and triglycerides from blood” and has the potential to protect against obesity and metabolic syndrome, which includes insulin resistance and diabetes.
The Entry of Beige Fat
So—two different kinds of fat—white fat stores energy, brown fat helps release energy. Got it so far? Okay. Recently, researchers have found that there’s a third type of fat, which they call BRITE fat, which stands for “brown in white” fat—or, to make it less complicated and stick with the color theory naming, beige fat. Beige fat does the same work as brown fat but—here’s the fun part—it starts as white fat, but changes its color, and its properties, due to outside influences including cold, exercise and different types of hormone signaling.
How CBD Encourages Fat Browning
The research on fat browning—how white fat becomes beige fat—is moving fast. Just a few years ago, scientists thought that brown fat was found mostly in babies, and that, basically, you were born with all the brown fat cells you’d ever have. Their focus at that point was on “activating” brown fat cells, preferably without exposing people who want to lose weight to extremely cold temperatures. The discovery of beige fat changed that focus. Now, they’re exploring ways to encourage fat browning, as well as exploring the effects of fat browning.
And here’s where CBD oil comes in. It turns out that white fat transforms to beige fat in response to certain hormone signals that involve the endocannabinoid system, and CBD oil provides the precursors to those hormones. In one study, scientists found that CBD not only helps induce white fat cells to behave like brown fat cells, it also seems to encourage fat metabolism. While the research in this field is new, it seems to strongly suggest that CBD can help with weight loss by encouraging fat metabolism in various ways.
CBD Oil and Weight Loss—What Studies Say
Interestingly, few studies have evaluated the use of CBD oil specifically for weight loss—but that doesn’t mean there’s no scientific evidence to support that use for CBD. In fact, a number of studies have noted reduced weight and altered appetites as a side effect of treatment with CBD. In a study on CBD oil to treat psychosis, for example, scientists noted significantly less weight gain in patients who used CBD. A review of studies on clinical uses for CBD found a number of other studies that noted weight loss and/or decreased appetite as side effects, and, in one particular study, a decreased preference for sucrose in rats that were dosed with CBD. The study concluded that there isn’t enough evidence—and some contradictory evidence—to support CBD as a treatment for obesity, but the authors suggest more studies to explore the possibility.
Other Ways CBD Promotes Weight Loss
Even if CBD had no direct effect on your metabolism and appetite—and there’s a good possibility that it does—CBD can help promote weight loss and wellness through its other effects. Scientists have pretty well documented that CBD helps alleviate pain, reduce anxiety, relieve insomnia and improve many conditions that lead to a sedentary lifestyle. It makes sense that when you’re not in debilitating pain, you’re more likely to get out and be active.
In fact, when PopSugar talked to a couple of doctors who prescribe CBD oil in their practice, both noted that many of their patients lose weight as their other symptoms get better. One of them, Dr. Rachna Patel, told PopSugar, "Once these symptoms are better managed, people are better able to take care of themselves, make healthier food choices, exercise more, and live a better quality of life."
The other doctor also noted that the patients he treats for chronic pain frequently lose weight because they are more able to be active and exercise once their pain is manageable. Both doctors noted that CBD oil is safe to use and has few side effects.
Tips for Using CBD Oil for Weight Loss
Considering using CBD oil to help you lose weight? Here are some tips to help you better manage and evaluate your experience:
- Talk to a medical professional first, especially if you have any medical problems or take medication regularly. This is especially important if you have diabetes or are taking medication to lower your cholesterol levels, since CBD may actually improve your glucose and lipid profiles.
- Start with a low dose of CBD and increase gradually until you reach a level that’s comfortable for you. Take time to evaluate how you feel at each dosage level—and keep your doctor in the loop, too.
- Try various methods of using CBD to find the one that works best for you and your lifestyle. There are so many CBD products available—from vape pens to gummy drops to CBD-infused edibles—that it’s easy to find something that fits your needs and your lifestyle.
- Most experts suggest using full-spectrum CBD oil rather than isolate, so that you get the full benefits of the various phytochemicals present in the whole plant.
CBD isn’t a silver bullet or magic pill, but the evidence does suggest it can help you reach and maintain a healthier lifestyle. You’ll get best results by making CBD one part of an overall strategy to live a healthier, more fulfilling life.
Deb Powers is a freelance writer living and working in Massachusetts. She writes frequently about health, wellness and lifestyle topics.