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Could Medical Cannabis Stimulate Weight Loss?

Written by Julie Godard

Cannabis is widely known to have stimulating effects on the parts of the brain that control the desire to eat

The common sensation known as “the munchies” often assails people who have recently consumed cannabis. Another common trait of cannabis is its tendency to affect different people in different ways, and as far as appetite stimulation is concerned this has been very accurate.

Cannabis is often recommended for weight gain in patients suffering from diseases such as HIV/AIDS or cancer, in which other medications or treatments may decrease appetite to a dangerous level. Several recent studies have shown that regular cannabis consumption may lead to a lower overall body mass index. These results indicate that cannabis could help people with weight issues stimulate weight loss through the regular consumption of cannabis in some form.

Cannabis & Increased Appetite

In a 2014 study published in Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, researchers Randy and Lori Sansone set out to determine how and at what level cannabis stimulates appetite in patients with HIV/AIDS or cancer. Their findings indicated that while cannabis did stimulate appetite in these patients, it was at median levels, and the drug megestrol outperformed cannabis in this area. The study also found that acute cannabis consumption stimulates appetite, particularly in low-weight individuals. The stimulation of appetite in cannabis consumers, patients included, happens through the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

Since researchers now know what “turns on” the desire to eat during cannabis consumption, it makes sense that they might be able to moderate what “turns off” feeding behavior, thereby creating a process of weight loss reduction through the human consumption of cannabis.

Cannabis & Decreased Appetite

According to the Sansones, researchers have accomplished this in rats by pharmacologically blocking the CB receptors, which reduces food intake and weight gain. (CB receptor antagonists block the receptors and can determine whether cannabinoid receptors are involved in a certain behavior – in this case, eating.)

During their 2014 study, the Sansones realized that medical cannabis consumption might be an indicator of low body mass index, a quality that physicians and healthcare professionals prize as an indication of overall body health in human beings. Although there are other obesity drugs on the market for weight loss in obese patients such as rimonabant and taranabant, the Sansones found that “adverse and severe psychiatric symptoms” like suicidal thoughts and desires were possible side effects.

Image credit: Pixabay


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About the author

Julie Godard