CBD for appetite: What does research say?

November 12, 2021

It is a commonly held belief that marijuana gives you the “munchies”, causing you to raid your kitchen for anything and everything to eat. However, the same cannot be said for CBD, as not enough is yet known to conclude whether it can increase or decrease appetite. This leaves us with many questions. Can CBD give you the munchies? Does using CBD for appetite work? These are only some questions surrounding CBD and appetite that we will take a look at here.

CBD and other cannabinoids: which are appetite stimulants?

Firstly, we need to look at tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the cannabinoid in marijuana primarily responsible for causing food cravings (the munchies) and inducing a high. Most CBD products don’t contain more than the legal limit of 1 mg THC per finished product, which is too small an amount to have much of a psychoactive effect on users. Such trace amounts of THC will not result in users getting high or the munchies. However, THC is not the only cannabinoid that can help stimulate appetite. CBD has several qualities that can help improve appetite.

CBD for appetite: can it make you hungry?

While many studies have been done on CBD and its effect on appetite, research is still lacking. Many more studies are required to get a more accurate picture of the effects, primarily since most studies are conducted on animals, and a lot of evidence is anecdotal. Before conclusive claims can be made, much more evidence is needed to confirm these findings/claims. However, results from current studies seem promising.

CB-1 and CB-2 receptors

Research shows CBD works with CB-1 and CB-2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system to help it maintain homeostasis in the body. New research shows that CBD does not directly bind with these receptors, which could be why THC is a much more effective appetite stimulant than CBD. THC binds directly to CB-1 receptors. However, the same research also shows that by binding indirectly with CB-1 receptors, CBD can still act as an appetite stimulant, albeit not as potent as THC.

Ways CBD can potentially help increase appetite

There are a number of ways CBD can potentially increase appetite, namely by:

  • Regulating digestion
  • Reducing nausea and vomiting
  • Relieving anxiety
  • Reducing bloating

Let’s take a deeper look to get a better understanding of how the above effects will stimulate appetite.

CBD can help regulate digestion

If your digestive system isn’t working as efficiently as it should, you can end up feeling sluggish and bloated – definitely not in the mood for your next meal. This is due to the fact that food will move more slowly through your digestive system, leading to a decrease in appetite. This is where CBD is useful.

Research shows evidence that CBD has the potential to help regulate digestion. It does this by helping food move through the digestive system faster and more efficiently, so you don’t end up feeling bloated or sluggish. This, in turn, will lead to your appetite being stimulated.

CBD for appetite

CBD can help reduce nausea and vomiting

When you’re feeling nauseous or vomiting, the furthest thing from your mind is food, and your body will try to reject it at all costs. This will have a negative impact on your appetite and body. Symptoms associated with nausea can be caused by many things, such as:

  • Medication
  • Medical treatments
  • Health conditions

Although research is in its infancy, preclinical trials show that CBD has the potential to reduce symptoms of nausea and lack of appetite, particularly those caused by cancer treatments.

By curbing nausea and vomiting, CBD can increase your appetite.

CBD can help relieve anxiety

Feelings of stress or anxiety tend to decrease appetite. Our feelings play a big role in our appetite and affect how much we eat, so when your heart is racing, and the fight or flight response kicks in, you won’t have an appetite and will avoid eating. Studies show that CBD has the potential to help soothe anxiety and relieve symptoms associated with stress. Once you are calmed down, your appetite will return with a vengeance.

CBD can help reduce bloating

As mentioned above, CBD can help regulate your digestive system, and by doing so decrease bloating and increase your appetite. It does this by relieving symptoms of indigestion, such as constipation. Less discomfort from bloating means a healthy appetite.

Can CBD decrease appetite?

However, while there are qualities in CBD that can lead to an increase in appetite, the other side of the coin is that it can actually suppress your appetite.

Many studies and anecdotal reports provide evidence that more people experience appetite suppression, instead of stimulation, when using CBD. This could be why there is a much higher amount of CBD products that advertise weight loss than an increase in appetite. However, keep in mind that there is not enough evidence or research to support these claims.

There is further evidence that CBD has the potential to reduce the production of Ghrelin, also known as the “hunger hormone”, and increase the number of chemicals released that notify our body that it is full. By doing so, CBD could potentially suppress appetite.

What does the research conclude?

So far, there is no conclusive evidence on whether CBD is an effective appetite stimulant or suppressant, and research shows varying results. A recent review of CBD users shows that of the 2,409 people in the review, 6.35% experienced an increase in appetite. On the other hand, another study shows mixed results, with some participants experiencing an increase in appetite, but others a decrease.

There is simply not enough evidence to conclude that CBD can be used to stimulate or suppress appetite. More research is needed, especially on humans, as most of the available research surrounding CBD has been conducted on animals, such as rats.

CBD for appetite

One thing we can say is that CBD is not as effective at increasing appetite as other cannabinoids, such as THC and cannabigerol (CBG). As mentioned above, THC is an effective appetite stimulant. However, not everyone likes the thought of using THC, as it is illegal in high amounts, intoxicating and associated with drug culture and getting high. Luckily, there is a legal, milder version of THC that is also very effective at increasing appetite. This version is known as delta-8-THC. However, if the thought of taking any THC at all puts you off, CBG is the next best thing. It has similar effects to THC, without the high.

Key takeaways

It is important to keep in mind that whether you want to increase or decrease your appetite using CBD, there is no guarantee that either will work, and you may get the opposite effect that you’re going for. Each body is different and reacts differently to compounds such as CBD. Before using CBD for either effect, speak to your doctor first. You need to be sure that it is the safest and most effective choice for you. Never start a supplement, especially one such as CBD, without speaking to your doctor first.

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