Weed and weight: Why are cannabis consumers slimmer?

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Diet.
Detox.
Paleo.
Parisian.

Whatever
you
want
to
call
it,
nearly
half
of
Canadians
are
following
some
sort
of
food
plan
to
lose
weight,
according
to
a
recent

national
poll
.

Whether
for
health
or
aesthetic
reasons
(or
a
bit
of
both),
the
desire
to
slim
down
feeds
billions
of
dollars
into
the
weight
loss
industry
every
year.
And
yet,
as
studies
keep
telling
us,
results
are

almost
never
permanent
.
It’s
enough
to
make
the
diet-weary
roll
a
fat
one
and
forget
it—which,
coincidentally,
may
be
an
effective
slimming
strategy
in
itself.

Dr.
Stephen
Glazer,
chief
medical
officer
at
CannaWay
Clinic
and
bariatric
expert,
says
while
research
is
still
in
its
infancy,
studies
suggest
the

endocannabinoid
system

“contributes
significantly
to
both
obesity
and
metabolic
disorders.”

The
fatty
acid
connection

Simply
put,
the
endocannabinoid
system
is
a
network
of
cellular
receptors
in
the
body
that
help
keep
our
system
in
balance.
It
is
the
CB1
receptors
within
the
endocannabinoid
system
that
interact
with
THC,
leaving
us
feeling
euphoric
(or
“high”).

Glazer
says
these
same
CB1
receptors
play
a
large
role
in
energy
uptake,
storage,
and
conservation.
When
this
receptor
is
activated
by
THC,
either
through
ingestion
or
inhalation,
it
heightens
our
taste
and
smell
pathways
and
activates
our
brain’s
appetite
centre,
colloquially
known
as
the
“munchies”.
This
is
why
he
says
his
patients
at
CannaWay
receiving
chemotherapy
can
benefit
from
medical
cannabis
to
help
them
rebuild
a
healthy
appetite.

But
aren’t
we
talking
about
losing
weight?
Yes.

As
it
turns
out,
Glazer
says
new
research
looking
at
the
average
Western
diet,
which
tends
to
be
high
in
omega-6-fatty-acids
and
low
in
omega-3-fatty-acids,
points
to
chronic
and
excessive
stimulation
of
the
CB1
receptors.

To
put
it
in
perspective,
the
ideal
omega-6
to
omega-3
ratio
for
the
human
body
is
3:1.
But
in
the
average
Western
diet,
this
can
be
as
high
as
20:1.
Overactive
CB1
receptors
could
be
throwing
the
entire
endocannabinoid
system
off
balance.

Says
Glazer:
“Excessive
stimulation
of
our
cannabinoid
receptors
(CB1)
can
result
in
an
increased
rate
of
obesity
along
with
unhealthy
lipid
profiles,
insulin
resistance,
inflammation,
and
an
increased
risk
of
cardiovascular
disease.”

In
other
words,
the
system
that
keeps
our
bodies
in
balance
is
itself
out
of
balance,
thanks
to
the
foods
we’re
eating.

Cannabis
to
the
rescue?

While
it
seems
counterintuitive
that
something
responsible
for
a
food
frenzy
can
also
help
you
shed
pounds,
research
suggests
regularly
activating
CB1
with
cannabis
can
help
calm
this
overstimulated
receptor
over
the
long
term,
a
phenomenon
called
down-regulation.

Glazer
says
one
study
in
particular
showed
long
term,
regular
cannabis
is
linked
to
lower
body
mass
index
(BMI)
and
obesity
rates.
“This
is
an
exciting
development,
in
specific
relation
to
the
long-lasting
down-regulation
of
CB1,
which
may
suppress
appetite
while
increasing
calories
burnt.”

But
it’s
not
just
THC
at
play
when
it
comes
to
hunger,
or
lack
thereof.
Glazer
says
another
cannabinoid,
called

THCV
,
may
actually
block
the
effect
of
THC
on
CB1
receptors,
potentially
suppressing
appetite.
He
cites
more
recent
evidence
that
suggests
THCV
may
increase
connectivity
in
areas
of
the
brain
associated
with
appetite—areas
that
have
been
shown
to
be
affected
in
obesity
patients.
“Thus,
THCV
may
play
a
role
in
reducing
the
incidence
of
obesity.”

Blocking
CB1
receptors
to
suppress
appetite
is
something
the
pharmaceutical
industry
has
already
looked
into.
A
drug
called

Rimonabant

showed
promise
in
the
lab,
although
clinical
trials
resulted
in
negative
psychiatric
side
effects,
and
research
was
abandoned.

Work
that
brown
fat

CBD,
the
darling
cannabinoid
of
late,
could
also
be
responsible
for
trimming
weed-loving
waistlines
over
time.
Over
time
CBD
has
been
shown
to

increase
our
body’s
brown
fat
,
or
brown
adipose
tissue,
a
special
kind
of
fat
that
burns
through
regular
body
fat
for
fuel.

“This
may
have
a
variety
of
positive
effects
related
to
fat
cell
metabolism
and
energy
expenditure,
resulting
in
a
potentially
promising
therapeutic
agent
for
obesity
prevention,”
says
Glazer.

While
he
has
not
personally
seen
lowered
BMIs
in
his
own
medical
cannabis
patients,
Glazer
says
he
doesn’t
discount
the
growing
evidence
connecting
cannabis
with
healthy
body
sizes.
However,
he’s
cautious
to
give
full
credit
to
the
handful
of
cannabinoids
mentioned
above:

“We
must
keep
in
mind
that
the
cannabis
plant
is
composed
of
over
250
unique
chemical
compounds
and
the
research
is
just
getting
started,
focusing
primarily
on
THC
and
CBD.
More
research
is
required
for
definitive
answers,
but
we
are
moving
in
the
right
direction
and
the
future
for
cannabis
use
and
research
is
quite
promising.”

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Colleen Fisher Tully's Bio Image

Colleen
Fisher
Tully

Colleen
Fisher
Tully
is
a
freelance
writer
and
editor
with
recent
work
in
Clean
Eating,
Today’s
Parent,
The
Walrus
and
Local
Love.
She
posts
random
thoughts
on
Twitter
@colleenftully

 

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