Fact: Cannabis has appetite-stimulating properties. There is some merit to the munchies jokes. But serious science shows that patients with wasting syndrome, HIV/AIDS and other similar ailments benefit from the herb. But can marijuana speed up your metabolism?
Fact: Studies have shown that cannabis consumers eat or drink up to 600 more calories per day than non-users. Paradoxically, cannabis consumers on average score lower on the body-mass index (BMI) scale.
Fact: Metabolic syndrome, essentially a set of conditions preventing the body to properly process calories, is far less likely to occur in cannabis consumers.
Metabolic syndrome is a serious risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. If not treated, it can lead to:
- A large waistline
- High level of fat in the blood
- Low level of HDL cholesterol (“the good kind”)
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
What is going on? What is the connection with cannabis and our metabolism? Scientists are perplexed by the specific reason for cannabis consumers are less obese on average, but they agree that it has something to do with our endocannabinoid system. Ingesting cannabis gives your metabolism a jolt, creating hunger pangs in most people.
But studies also indicate that cannabis provides a “cardiometabolic protective effect” — meaning the herb positively affects dietary wellness.
Two compounds found in cannabis — THCV and CBD — have been found to help raise metabolism, speed fat loss, and lower cholesterol, according to research conducted by GW Pharmaceuticals. The British company also found that THCV improves insulin sensitivity.
“The results in animal models have been very encouraging. We are interested in how these drugs affect the fat distribution and utilization in the body as a treatment for metabolic diseases,” said Dr. Steph Wright, the company’s director of research and development.
GW Pharmaceuticals’ research confirms other studies:
- A study published in the Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics suggests that regular consumers of cannabis have a lower BMI than those who do not use the drug.
- Researchers from the University of Miami found that women who used marijuana on a daily basis had a 3.1 percent lower BMI and male users had a 2.7 percent lower BMI than those who do not use marijuana.
- A study published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2013 uncovered how marijuana manipulates the body’s insulin production, transforming the metabolism into a well-oiled machine of sorts to keep obesity at bay. The researchers from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, Omaha, and the Harvard School of Public Health found that current marijuana use was linked to fasting insulin levels that were 16 percent lower. They also discovered significant associations between the use of marijuana and a smaller waist circumference.
- And yet another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed that “the prevalence of obesity is lower in cannabis users than in nonusers.”
- A 2011 study found that people who consume cannabis regularly are less likely to be obese than those that do not use marijuana.
So will smoking cannabis make you skinny? No. But if you consume marijuana moderately and eat a healthy diet, chances are your weight will not balloon.