The following information is presented for educational purposes only.
Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding
of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to third party websites
do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Medical Marijuana
Inc. and none should be inferred.
Obesity is a medical condition involving excessive body fat that increases
the risk of serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Studies have shown marijuana is associated with a lower prevalence of
obesity and may stimulate changes in the body’s metabolic process.
Overview of Obesity
Obesity is a disorder caused by having an excessive amount of body fat. One
is considered obese when their body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. Body
mass index is calculated by dividing body weight (in pounds) by height (in
inches squared), then multiplying that value by 703.
Obesity is caused by taking in more calories than are burned through daily
activities and exercise. Any excess calories consumed are stored as fat.
Inactivity and unhealthy eating habits contribute to the creation of a
calorie surplus and thus obesity. Genetics also play a role in how
efficiently the body converts energy and burns calories. In addition, with
age come hormonal changes and typically a less active lifestyle that
contributes to obesity.
Obesity significantly increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and high
blood pressure. In addition, being obese increases the risk of developing
cancer, arthritis, fatty liver disease and stroke. It can also lead to
depression, disability, sexual problems, shame and guilt.
In many cases, obesity can be treated with an increase in physical activity
and dietary changes. However, in some cases, medications or weight-loss
surgery is required.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Obesity
Cannabis is well known as an effective appetite stimulant, so one would
assume that its use would contribute to weight gain. However, the opposite
effect has been shown true. Cannabis use has found to be associated with a
lower BMI, lower body fat percentage, lower fasting insulin and lower
insulin resistance (Ngueta, Belanger, Laouan-Sidi & Lucas, 2015). Another
study also found that marijuana use was associated with lower levels of
fasting insulin and resting insulin, and smaller waist circumferences (Penner,
Buettner & Mittleman, 2013). Multiple surveys also found the prevalence of
obesity to be lower in cannabis users than in nonusers (Le Strat & Le Foll,
2011). Animal studies found that cannabis protected rats against obesity (Levendal,
Schumann, Donath & Frost, 2012). In addition, CBD has shown to significantly
reduce food intake (Farrimond, Whalley & Williams, 2012).
Researchers discovering that the prevalence of obesity is paradoxically much
lower in cannabis users compared to non-users have subsequently hypothesized
that it’s the THC or a combination of THC and CBD that causes weight loss
(Le Foll, Trigo, Sharkey & Le Strat, 2013).
The relationship between THC and CBD and the body’s metabolic processes,
however, remains unknown. The endocannabinoid system controls metabolic
function and it’s THC’s agonist effect on the CB1 receptor of that system
that stimulates appetite. Therefore, the fact that THC also provides weight
loss effects is unexpected. A hypothesis is that the cannabinoids found in
cannabis help to regulate an endocannabinoid system that has become
dysregulated. An unbalanced energy intake has been found to cause the
endocannabinoid system to become dysregulated and overactive, which in turn
likely contributes to fat accumulation and obesity (Di Marzo, 2008).
Researchers have suggested that cannabis may have a broad-spectrum
regulatory effect; it increases weight in those who are underweight and
reduces weight in those who are overweight (Sansone & Sansone, 2014) (Matias
& Di Marzo, 2007).
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Obesity
No states have approved medical marijuana specifically for the treatment of
obesity. However, in Washington
any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a DC-licensed
physician recommends the treatment. In addition, a number of other states
will consider allowing medical marijuana to be used for the treatment of
obesity with the recommendation from a physician. These states include: California (any
debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been recommended
by a physician), Connecticut (other
medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer
Protection), Massachusetts (other
conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other
conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other
conditions subject to approval), Rhode
conditions subject to approval), and Washington (any
“terminal or debilitating condition”).
Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Obesity
Cannabis use was found to be associated with a lower BMI, lower fasting
insulin levels, and lower insulin resistance.
Cannabis use in relation to obesity and insulin resistance in the inuit
Marijuana use found to be associated with a smaller waist circumference,
lower fasting insulin and lower insulin resistance.
The impact of marijuana use on glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance
among US adults.
Cannabis extract significantly slowed body weight gain in rats on a
Cannabis exposure associated with weight reduction and β-cell protection
in an obese rat model.
Di Marzo, V. (2008, August). The endocannabinoid system in obesity and type
2 diabetes. Diabetologia,
Farrimond, J.A., Whalley, B.J., and Williams, C.M. (2012, September).
Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns. Psychopharmacology,
Le Foll, B., Trigo, J.M., Sharkey, K.A., and Le Strat, Y. (2013, May).
Cannabis and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for weight loss? Medical
Le Strat, Y., and Le Foll, B. (2011). Obesity and Cannabis Use: Results From
2 Representative National Surveys. American
Journal of Epidemiology,
Levandal, R.A., Schumann, D., Donath, M., and Frost, C.L. (2012, May 15).
Cannabis exposure associated with weight reduction and β-cell protection in
an obese rat model. Phytomedicine,
Matias, I., and Di Marzo, V. (2007, January-February). Endocannabinoids and
the control of energy balance. Trends
in Endocrinology and Metabolism: TEM,
Ngueta, G., Belanger, R.E., Laouan-Sidi, E.A., and Lucas, M. (2015,
February). Cannabis use in relation to obesity and insulin resistance in the
inuit population. Obesity,
Obesity. (2015, June 10). Mayo
Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obesity/basics/definition/con-20014834.
Penner, E.A., Buettner, H., and Mittleman, M.M. (2013, July). The impact of
marijuana use on glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance among US adults. The
American Journal of Medicine,
Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2014). Marijuana and Body Weight. Innovations
in Clinical Neuroscience, 11(7-8),
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