Is CBD an Appetite Stimulant?
You may be familiar with the term munchies, commonly associated with the use of cannabis or marijuana products. The specific compound contained in cannabis products that is largely responsible for stimulating appetite and causing food cravings is the cannabinoid called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). M ost CBD products do not contain more than 0.3% THC as this is the maximum legal amount allowed in any CBD product because of the psychoactive side-effects attributed to THC. This tiny amount of THC is believed to have little to no effects – including causing the munchies. However, there are a number of other cannabinoids in cannabis that may also have appetite-stimulating qualities – primarily CBD. So, is it possible for CBD and the other cannabinoids that are present in CBD products to act as an appetite stimulant?
Let’s first look at how appetite works and how it can be regulated and controlled:
How Does Appetite Work?
Hunger is one of the most basic survival instincts and is therefore primarily controlled by the brain. It tells us when we need to eat as well as what we need. When there is an intense craving for certain foods, it shows that the body may have a deficiency in a certain essential nutrient that is contained in that food.
Although appetite and hunger go hand-in-hand, they are different. Appetite refers to wanting to eat rather than needing to eat – like with hunger. It determines what we like to eat, when we eat, and how much we eat. But just like hunger, appetite is controlled by the brain.
The release of certain chemicals act on neurotransmitters in the brain to tell us when we are hungry and what we feel like eating. These chemicals may directly stimulate appetite or may encourage the production of other chemicals in the body such as Ghrelin.
However, other factors may also influence appetite. Mood, emotions, and feelings can all affect whether we want to eat or not and the type of foods that we crave. For example, eating comfort food is often associated with a sad event or a more serious mental health condition, depression. Anxiety, fear, and stress can all suppress appetite.
Environmental factors such as sights, smells, and even sound can also affect appetite. Healthy, happy people most often have a healthy appetite whereas those who are suffering from health or mental conditions may have a poor appetite.
CBD’s Potential as an Appetite Stimulant
How Might CBD Affect Appetite?
Of all the potential effects of CBD on the brain and body, its potential effect on appetite is one of the factors that has received a large amount of attention. However, there is still much to be learned about how exactly CBD might affect appetite.
Currently, CBD is thought to work with both CB-1 and CB-2 receptors that form part of the endocannabinoid system in the human body. CB-1 receptors are found in the brain, central nervous system (CNS), and throughout the body. CB-2 receptors focus on the immune and gastrointestinal systems of the body.
CBD’s Effect on CB-1 Receptors
How might CBD act on the CB-1 receptors in order to increase appetite? There are three different ways in which CBD may stimulate CB-1 transmitters in the brain and CNS:
- CBD may encourage the production of a hormone called Ghrelin which is associated with creating hunger. Ghrelin production is stimulated by the release of chemicals that act on neurotransmitters in the brain.
- CBD could potentially increase Dopamine production which is associated with the reward system in the brain. Eating is rewarding and therefore appetite is often increased along with increased Dopamine production.
- CBD may act on the serotonin receptors (5-HT) in order to regulate mood and therefore appetite. Mood often affects appetite. Sadness and depression can either result in a lack of appetite or increased cravings for comfort foods.
There is however some research that shows that CBD may not bind with CB-1 receptors and therefore cannot have the same appetite-stimulating effects as THC which only binds with CB-1 receptors. However, the latest research has shown that although CBD may not bind directly with CB-1 receptors, it can do so indirectly which might allow it to act as an appetite stimulant.
CBD’s Effect on CB-2 Receptors
How might CBD act on the CB-2 receptors in order to increase appetite? The CB-2 receptors that form part of the endocannabinoid system are commonly associated with the body’s immune system and therefore general health and well-being. However, these receptors are found dispersed throughout the gastrointestinal system and play a role in every aspect of eating and digestion including:
- Saliva production which is the start of the digestive process and is often stimulated when feeling hungry.
- Production of stomach acid.
- Peristalsis, which is the contraction and relaxation of the various digestive tracts in order to move food and stool along these tracts.
- Increases the absorption of essential food groups (protein, carbohydrates, fats) and nutrients including vitamins and minerals.
Other Ways CBD May Act as an Appetite Stimulant
Due to the fact that CBD may act on both the brain and the gastrointestinal tract, there are many other ways that the compound might have the potential to increase appetite:
- Mood has a direct relation to appetite and affects how and what we crave and therefore eat. A good mood or positive feelings and emotions can often stimulate appetite and vice versa. On the other hand, negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, and depression can reduce appetite.
- CBD may have the ability to reduce the symptoms of nausea and vomiting that have a negative impact on appetite. Nausea and/or vomiting can be the result of a health condition, medication, or other medical treatments and procedures. Research has found that it might have a significant impact on the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite that are often associated with cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
- May help to reduce bloating and symptoms of indigestion such as acid reflux and constipation in order to increase appetite.
- May help regulate digestive health allowing food to be digested faster and more efficiently in order to stimulate appetite for the next meal.
Can CBD Suppress Appetite?
When CBD acts on the CB-1 receptors which are primarily located in the brain, it may have a regulatory effect and therefore could act either as an agonist or antagonist. An agonist binds to neuro-receptors in the brain to promote or stimulate the production of certain chemicals and hormones in the body. An antagonist has the opposite effect, slowing or preventing the production of chemicals and hormones.
In some cases, where excessive eating is of concern, CBD may help to reduce the production of Ghrelin (and therefore the feelings of hunger) and increase chemicals that are released to tell the body that it is full. This process may significantly reduce appetite.
This suggests that CBD products may be used as an appetite suppressant and result in weight loss in some cases. However, the compound is primarily advised to help stimulate appetite rather than act as a weight loss supplement.
Why Is Stimulating Appetite Important?
The human body needs nutrients to survive and thrive. These nutrients are made up of the three food groups as well as essential vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.
The three food groups include:
- Proteins which are primarily the building blocks used to create each cell and build muscle and tissue.
- Carbohydrates which provide the fuel or energy to enable the body and brain to function optimally.
- Fats that aid in gastrointestinal function as well as the function of many other organs and systems within the body.
Vitamins and minerals (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, etc.) play a vital role in assisting the body, as well as the three food groups, with all the different systems in the body and functions of these systems. A deficiency in any of these nutrients can have a dire effect on overall health and well being.
A healthy appetite ensures that all three food groups and the other essential nutrients are consumed and absorbed by the body for overall health. CBD may have the ability to work with the brain and body to help stimulate appetite, improve digestion, and the absorption of essential nutrients.
This becomes especially important when the body is suffering from a health condition or is healing and recuperating from an injury. In the case of cancer, where lack of appetite is often a symptom of the disease as well as a side-effect of treatments, good nutrition is absolutely essential in order to fight the disease. Reducing the symptoms of nausea and vomiting in cancer patients has shown to be beneficial to their recovery and remission.
The Brain-Gut Connection
Recent research has firmly established a clear link between the gut (gastrointestinal system) and the brain. The above information suggests that if CBD stimulates Dopamine and Serotonin production, it may lead to increased appetite. However, what most people don’t know is that this process works in reverse.
A happy gut makes for a happier person. Ways to improve digestion and overall gastrointestinal health are now being used to help manage depression. The potential benefits of CBD for the gut and digestion may indirectly help with symptoms of depression, creating a cycle where happiness leads to improved appetite which results in better gastrointestinal health which makes you happier.
Does CBD Increase Your Appetite?
Cannabis has always been associated with appetite stimulation, mostly due to marijuana’s ability to create munchies.
The munchies are an inseparable element of a euphoric sensation known as a “high.”
This simply means that food and drinks are a lot more enjoyable, which may lead to overeating.
The main trigger for munchies is THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana.
But what about hemp and CBD?
Is CBD an appetite stimulant too?
The answer is more complex than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’
Before we delve deeper into the effects of CBD on appetite, let’s focus on how appetite and hunger work.
How Appetite & Hunger Work
Elevated appetite is the sign of hunger, and hunger is one of the most basic survival instincts. Your brain is in charge of controlling appetite, informing the body when it should eat and what we should put in our stomachs.
For example, if you have a strong desire for a specific meal, it means that the body may be lacking an important nutrient found in that type of food.
Although appetite and hunger mean similar things, they’re not the same.
While hunger occurs usually when we crave food for survival, the appetite may not be associated solely with our nutritional needs.
What we eat, the way we eat, and how much we eat affects hormonal balance in the brain, influencing our appetite.
Certain chemicals circulate in the brain and act on neurotransmitters to signal us when we’re hungry and what we want to eat.
These substances are known as hormones. The hormone responsible for hunger is called Ghrelin.
Appetite is also modulated outside of the hormonal side. For example, mood, emotions, and sentiments all affect whether or not we want to eat, as well as the kind of foods we crave.
For instance, eating comfort food too often is associated with sadness or an underlying mental health condition. Anxiety and stress, on the other hand, can make it difficult to eat and digest.
Environmental factors, such as to scents, sounds, and pictures, can influence appetite as well.
People who live a happy life usually have a healthy appetite, but those suffering from eating disorders or hormonal imbalances may experience fluctuation of appetite.
Why Is Appetite Stimulation Important?
The human body needs nutrition in order to survive and grow. There are three dietary categories of nutrients — proteins, fats, and carbohydrates — but you also need important vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.
A lack of any of these compounds can have negative consequences for your physical and mental health.
A healthy appetite means that a person consumes and absorbs all three nutrient categories as well as other beneficial substances for general well-being.
Although CBD won’t give you the munchies, it can help you achieve a healthy appetite through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
However, before we elaborate on CBD being an appetite stimulant, let’s focus on lifestyle activities that can help you achieve the same effect.
Lifestyle Modifications for Appetite Stimulation
- Working out regularly can stimulate appetite due to the fact that it increases your energy consumption.
- Consider eating in cozy, comfortable conditions, or sharing a meal with friends during your favorite TV show. If you’re having a good time during your dinner, you may eat more.
- Diversify your meal plan by adding a variety of your favorite foods. You can keep a meal journal to make sure that monotony never enters your diet.
- Eat 2–3 meals a day instead of 5 smaller meals. Eating too frequently can trigger insulin resistance, making you feel constantly unsatiated and leading to weight gain.
- Consider adding meals in the liquid form, including smoothies, protein shakes, and juices. Depending on the type of nutrients you need, you can mix different ingredients to create a superfood cocktail. Just make sure you’re consuming nutrient-dense ingredients rather than empty calories from commercial beverages.
Is CBD an Appetite Stimulant?
CBD can act as a mild appetite suppressant or stimulant depending on your individual health needs. That’s because CBD exerts adaptogenic properties, meaning it can optimize the biological functions of your body without any negative structural changes.
We’ll elaborate on these properties in the next few sections, but first, let’s make sure you understand the different effects of CBD vs THC on the brain.
CBD vs THC
THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana plants. This cannabinoid is responsible for producing the euphoric sensation of being high. THC also stimulates the production of ghrelin, which — as mentioned earlier — is the hormone responsible for making you hungry.
This, in turn, triggers a popular effect known as the munchies. Moreover, THC makes you more reactive to scents, and since the nasal tract and palate are interconnected, this change in perception can elevate your appetite even more.
THC also affects the area of the brain where the majority of CB1 receptors are located. When THC binds to the CB1 receptor, it results in a surge of dopamine.
Dopamine is the “feel good” chemical; increased concentration of this neurotransmitter allows us to draw more pleasure out of eating, making the process more rewarding.
Although CBD shares similar health benefits with THC, it’s also very different in certain aspects. This includes its influence on appetite.
CBD doesn’t bind to the CB1 receptor, so it won’t trigger the munchies. In addition, CBD can block the binding site of this receptor, weakening its interaction with THC.
In simple words, when you take THC alongside CBD, the appetite stimulation may not be as pronounced as if you took a high-THC marijuana strain alone.
CBD uses different mechanisms to engage with the ECS. Here are the most common effects on both types of cannabinoid receptors.
Effects of CBD on CB1 Receptors
Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t have a direct affinity with the CB1 receptor. However, it can indirectly enhance its functioning in the following ways:
- CBD may signal the ECS to produce more anandamide, which is a naturally produced endocannabinoid. Anandamide has a similar molecular structure to THC, and as such, it can bind to CB1 receptors in the brain — leading to an increase in appetite.
- CBD can boost dopamine production by reducing stress and optimizing the activity of GABA and 5-HTA receptors. Higher levels of dopamine are associated with greater pleasure from eating.
- CBD may regulate mood and appetite by acting on serotonin receptors. Mood and appetite are closely linked with each other; anxiety and sadness may cause a loss of appetite or an increase in the need for comfort foods. A balanced mood helps your body achieve a healthy appetite.
Effects of CBD on CB2 Receptors
CB2 receptors are another important constituent of the ECS. They are frequently linked to the immune system, which makes them responsible for overall health and well-being. Most of these receptors are located throughout the gastrointestinal tract and take part in every important step from feeding to digestion, including:
- Regulation of saliva production
- Stomach acid release
- The peristalsis of the gut
- The absorption of vitamins and minerals, as well as important dietary categories (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates)
Other Ways CBD May Act As An Appetite Stimulant
Since CBD acts on both the brain and the digestive system, there are plenty of other ways this cannabinoid can act as an appetite stimulant:
- CBD has the ability to boost mood and reduce anxiety. Positive emotions and sentiments, as well as elevated mood, may promote hunger.
- CBD can help minimize bloating and indigestion symptoms, such as acid reflux and constipation — improving appetite as a result.
- By aiding digestive health, when CBD is added to food, it allows the meal to be broken down more quickly and efficiently, stimulating hunger for the next mealtime.
How to Use CBD Oil to Support a Healthy Appetite
Studies on CBD and appetite are in an early stage. What we do know about CBD as a potential appetite stimulant comes from the studies on its general properties.
That being said, the modulation of the ECS holds great potential for encouraging a healthy appetite while supporting your body’s homeostasis.
The problem is that many people consider CBD oil — as well as other dietary supplements — a magical pill that will do wonders for their appetite, leaving aside other important factors.
If you want to maintain a healthy appetite, consider adding the following habits to your CBD routine:
This comes as an obvious piece of advice, but staying active is one of the best methods to encourage a healthy appetite.
Exercising causes you to burn calories, and taking CBD oil for weight loss can be a great help for losing weight. But on top of that, burning more energy leaves you some room for indulgence in sweet treats and other types of comfort foods. Although it’s essential to develop a responsible approach to eating, and the majority of your diet should be nutrient-dense, it’s also important to feed the soul from time to time.
And if you struggle to eat regularly, working out may help with that too. Regular workout sessions release endorphins that make us feel happy and trigger the need to refuel the body.
Take Omega Fatty Acids
Omega fatty acids have a myriad of benefits, one of which appears to be a positive effect on weight loss.
Just keep in mind to keep the correct ratios between omega-3 and omega-6 acids. The omega-3s are anti-inflammatory compounds, while omega-6s are known to cause inflammation. Therefore, you should always consume more omega-3s than omega-6s.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in beef, fish, nuts, and hemp seed oil.
Establish a Schedule
Humans like to have habits, but with busy work and the rapid pace of social life, eating is usually the first activity that we neglect.
However, in our pursuit of career, money, and happiness, we often forget that eating is the cornerstone of our survival.
When we develop poor eating habits and continue to stick to them for months, or even years, it can take a serious toll on our appetite and overall health.
Establishing the right habits is the first thing you should do if you struggle with poor appetite. CBD as an appetite stimulant may help, but it won’t solve your problems alone.
Summarizing the Effects of CBD on Appetite
The effects of CBD on appetite are complex and yet to be fully understood. Considering the multifaceted mechanism CBD uses to interact with the ECS, it can act either as an appetite stimulant or mild appetite suppressant.
CBD has adaptogenic properties, meaning it will prioritize the areas of your health that need the most improvements.
While CBD oil may affect appetite differently in different people, adding it to a healthy diet and active lifestyle adds a solid building block to achieving a healthy appetite.
What effect does CBD have on your appetite? Does it act as a stimulant or suppressant? Share your stories in the comments below!
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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CBD Oil and Appetite
Many people associate cannabis use with “getting the munchies,” but is that only the case with marijuana, the strain of cannabis containing THC? What about CBD, which is derived from hemp? The possibility of feeling insatiable hunger after using CBD oil could throw a big wrench in your weight loss and diet goals. On the flip side, feeling nauseous after dosing with CBD oil or losing your appetite altogether can be a bummer as well.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, a component of the industrial hemp plant that interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. CBD stimulates this endocannabinoid system, which is a system in our body that modulates pain and inflammation as well as mood, stress, behaviors and more.
Industrial hemp and marijuana are both strains of the cannabis plant, however, the main difference is that the industrial hemp plant has very low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound associated with the plant. It is important to remember that CBD is different from THC (which is found in high levels in the marijuana plant) as it does not have the psychoactive properties. In other words, CBD will not make you high.
Even though CBD oil is regarded as safe, causing very few harsh side effects, feeling the urge to demolish a whole pack of Oreos or alternately being turned off by even your favorite meal could be a deterrent for people who wish to enjoy the benefits of CBD oil. In this post, we get into the nitty-gritty of whether or not CBD oil affects your appetite.
Table of Contents
- Will CBD Oil Increase My Appetite?
- What Forms of CBD Oil Have a More Significant Effect on My Appetite?
- Will CBD Oil Make Me Nauseous?
- Will Taking CBD Oil Make Me Gain Weight?
Will CBD Oil Increase My Appetite?
CBD oil, for the most part, has very few side effects, which is one of the many reasons why people love using it. However, CBD can cause side effects in some people. Some of the most common side effects are:
- Dry Mouth
- Reduced Appetite
CBD does not seem to increase appetite. If fact, it may even reduce appetite. Three of the most common side effects of taking CBD are nausea, dry mouth, and reduced appetite — side effects that could easily prevent you from craving your favorite foods.
Both CBD and THC activate the body’s endocannabinoid system, which has been found to be involved in appetite and the regulation of food intake in both animals and people. However, they do not have the same effect on appetite.
THC has been found to activate CB1 receptors in several parts of the brain that control appetite and eating pleasure. For example, THC affects the basal ganglia and limbic forebrain (two areas of the brain) which increase the pleasure of eating. Also, THC increases a hormone called ghrelin which stimulates appetite.
Also, THC stimulates the CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that regulates many bodily functions, including appetite. CBD also stimulates CB1 receptors in various parts of the brain and body but does not cause an increase in appetite like THC-containing products do.
On the other hand, CBD may be able to help with anxiety and stress levels. For some people, high anxiety and stress can cause their appetites to shut down. In short, appetite regulation can be complex.
Although CBD and THC affect different mechanisms of appetite control, they both have the potential to help a person eat — depending on the cause of their appetite loss, and we’ll get into that in a bit. However, for the most part, CBD is not an appetite stimulant like THC.
What Forms of CBD Oil Have a More Significant Effect on My Appetite?
CBD is available in various forms, including edibles — such as gummies, oils, chocolate, teas, coffees — vape products, and topical preparations. The delivery form of CBD makes a difference in how it affects you, including your appetite.
Topical CBD products, such as lotions, creams, and salves, are applied to the skin and do not enter the body systemically like edible or vape forms do. With topical CBD, you are much less likely to experience any side effects because the product stays locally on the skin and muscles where it was applied. This means topical CBD does not enter the bloodstream and affect your brain. However, there is one caveat. If you are unable to eat because of the pain you are experiencing, topical CBD may be able to help alleviate those pain symptoms, which, in turn, could help you regain your appetite.
On the other hand, edible forms CBD like gummies and CBD oil are absorbed through the digestive tract, passed through the liver, and circulated through your bloodstream. CBD vape products rapidly enter the bloodstream after entering the lungs. Both of these forms of CBD are able to interact with the endocannabinoid systems of multiple areas of the body, including the brain.
Because vape products enter the system so quickly, there is a higher chance of experiencing side effects with this form of CBD. Edible forms tend to have a slower release than vape products, so your body can metabolize the CBD at a slower pace. Factors such as whether or not you have eaten, your body type, and your body’s ability to process CBD will all have an impact on the likelihood you will experience changes to your appetite or other side effects.
Will CBD Oil Make Me Nauseous?
It is well known in the medical community that THC is effective in reducing nausea. It is often used by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, which can cause intense nausea. THC affects the 5-HTP receptors in the brain, which reduce nausea.
In contrast, one of the most common side effects of CBD is said to be nausea. However, there is some evidence that CBD may also stimulate 5-HTP receptors and help reduce nausea as well. The science behind this is still emerging and requires a lot more research.
One factor that may impact whether or not CBD makes you nauseous is the dosage. CBD at lower doses is stimulating, whereas, at higher doses, it is sedating. So, what is a high dose and what is a low dose? The answer depends on certain factors such as your body size, ability to metabolize CBD, and your tolerance. In short, each person is different. It is always best to start off conservatively with your dosing to ensure you are monitoring how much you’re taking and what your body can handle to avoid side effects.
Will Taking CBD Oil Make Me Gain Weight?
Many people worry that like CBD’s sister THC, using CBD products will cause them to want to overeat and, as a result, gain weight. This does not seem to be the case. CBD does not have the appetite-stimulating effects of THC as it does not activate the appetite centers of the brain like THC does.
Right now, there is no reliable evidence showing that using CBD oil or CBD products will cause a person to gain weight or have food cravings. In fact, there is some emerging evidence in rat studies that CBD may actually help with weight loss. These studies found that CBD’s effect on CB2 receptors is responsible for regulating weight.
Our understanding of CBD and how it affects the brain and our bodies continues to grow. As we learn more, we will gain a better grasp of how CBD affects health, including its role in appetite regulation and controlling or causing nausea.
Although CBD may cause nausea and appetite loss as a side effect in some people, it may also have the opposite effect in others. The dose of CBD, delivery forms, and individual differences among people are likely factors that impact how CBD oil affects the brain, body, and a person’s appetite.