Cannabis and Losing Weight

Stephen Andrews
19 Aug 2023

It’s a common assumption that cannabis has the great ability to stimulate appetite. Thirty minutes after smoking, all of a sudden you have the urge to swallow a whole package of Oreo. We’ve all been there, done that. Beyond recreational use, the hunger-stimulating property of cannabis is exactly what helps support the health of patients with HIV/AIDS and cancer. While it might sound contradictory that cannabis can help a person lose weight, there’s a growing body of evidence that weed can be utilized exactly for that purpose.

People who smoke marijuana or ingest it in other available forms frequently report that consumption increases their hunger. There goes the famous saying for it: got the munchies! So, how come that cannabis can also help with losing weight? 

It’s true that weed causes munchies in many cases, and therefore consumption of cannabis can lead to eating more foods. Mixing sweet, sour and salty all at the same time can really be a dinner-time adventure and an inventive way with the fridge and the oven. Nevertheless, the munchies phenomenon is not necessarily related to being overweight or gaining extra pounds. A lot of the cannabis experience depends also on whether the strain is one of those that stimulate more appetite. Not all weeds necessarily generate that effect. They could have an entirely opposite effect from causing hunger. As always, it’s important what’s in the chemical content of the strain. 

What Does the Science Say on Cannabis and Weight Management?

Medicinal cannabis has gained significant recognition over the last couple of years for its effectiveness to treat and help with various conditions, including mental health problems like depression and anxiety, or pain management and supporting cancer patients with the side effects from chemotherapy. That’s just a small portion of the therapeutic benefits from weed. 

Weight loss has not been so much on the radar, so to speak. But doctors are getting there as they cannot ignore the potential of cannabis to generate positive outcomes also for those people who struggle with obesity.

The effect size of marijuana use on body mass index (BMI) is large. The magnitude of the BMI difference in cannabis users and non-users is noted to be of clinical significance. There’s many reasons to believe that, especially now that there is also some research on the subject. 

In 2011, researchers published cross-sectional data from two population-based surveys that included more than 50,000 respondents. The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, showed that the obesity rates in the two surveys stood at 22.0% and 25.3% among participants who reported no cannabis use in the past year. While, weekly use of cannabis (or up to three times a week) showed that obesity rates dropped to 14.3% and 17.2%. 

Since 2011, medicinal research has revisited the subject of cannabis and weight losing on more than one occasion, adding to the evidence that cannabis may have a link to lower body weight. 

For example, a more recent study emphasizes the relation between cannabis consumption and weight loss, associating marijuana smoking with lower obesity rates. The three-year study that included 33,000 Americans has found that weed users weigh two pounds less than non-smokers on the average. Users are also less likely to be overweight. The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2019. 

Apparently it turns out that some patients can use marijuana to gain weight if they need to, and some can use it to reduce their weight. The main question here would be: how can patients use weed in the way that works best for their health?

THCV: the Cannabinoid that Can Help Weight Loss?

One of the ways how cannabis can help with weight loss is to look for strains that are not superior appetite boosters, and that possibly have an opposite effect. Another is to test and try THCV products. 

THCV is a relatively new cannabinoid that’s been dubbed as the “diet weed.” The cannabinoid is praised for its alleged appetite-suppressing and energizing properties, although scientists still do not have a consensus that this is really one-hundred-percent the case. 

Despite it having THC in its name, THCV would not generate the kind of high you would expect from classic THC strains. The theory behind THCV is that it blocks receptors in the body that stimulate appetite, thus the desired reaction of reduced appetite. 

Although science is not entirely clear if a cannabinoid such as THCV can help reduce appetite, products are safe to try and see if they work for you. Some of the research findings in this direction are intriguing nevertheless. 

A study from 2015 has shown that a single dose of 10 mg of THCV affects the food reward and aversion reaction in the brain. In the clinical trial, THCV was reportedly found to increase the activation of several brain centers in response to chocolate and to aversive food stimuli to rotten fruits. But it didn’t seem to affect the ratings of pleasantness or the desire to indulge. 

In a separate research, THCV has been found to reduce glucose intolerance associated with obesity. The rare cannabinoid, used in its purified form, has also been found to help patients with Diabetes Type 2. 

How Can You Use Cannabis to Reduce Weight?

There is always more than one way to use cannabis to your benefit. The help you can get from cannabis can often be indirect. And it doesn’t need to be the kind of product that specifically concerns weight management.

For example, if you only look for cannabis strains that work as energy boosters and that don't stimulate hunger, you can use them as you engage in sports and exercise. Energy strains improve the person's mobility and give more stamina to last longer during training in the gym. If you are unfamiliar with strains, your local budtender can really be helpful. That's one really practical way of how you can use cannabis when you try to cut down on some excess calories. 

Also read on Soft Secrets:

- Weight Loss and Smoking Weed: Is THCV the new CBD?

- Cannabis and Muscle Mass: Is Pot the Way to New Gains?

- What Are the Medical Benefits of Cannabis for HIV/AIDS Patients?

Stephen Andrews