What is Cannabidiol?
The Cannabis plant contains many chemical compounds that are known as cannabinoids. Despite the fact that there are more than 60 cannabinoid compounds in the cannabis plant, there are two cannabinoids that are widely known for their medical properties: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Although CBD is not the major constituent of marijuana, it is more widely used due to its numerous beneficial effects on the human body.
Our human body has two main types of cannabinoid receptors, namely cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2). CB1 receptors are majorly located in the central and peripheral nervous system, while CB2 receptors are mainly situated in the immune cells. That being said, CB1 receptors are also found in immune cells, and CB2 receptors are found in the nervous system as well, but to a little extent.
Our bodies also contain cannabinoid compounds, known as endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids naturally activate the endogenous cannabinoid receptors to elicit an important effect. The combined system of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids is collectively recognized as the Endocannabinoid system.
Some of our clients use CBD for weight loss :
Anorexia and Weight Loss and the Potential Role of Cannabidiol
Anorexia, also known as loss of appetite, is a very common and severe complication of advanced cancer. It is reported in nearly all patients (90%) with advanced cancer. It is often associated with disturbances in the taste sensation, loss of hunger at times of meals, and lack of food enjoyment. Weight loss is often recognized as an associated symptom related to the physical decline in many cancer patients as the disease advances. Noteworthy, weight loss is a very complex symptom to identify and manage in cancer patients because a wide range of mechanisms is involved in its occurrence, including anorexia, cachexia, and depression. This could be related to the increase in the metabolic rate in patients with advanced cancer secondary to the increase in inflammatory reactions, metastasis, and other factors as well.
Cachexia, which is known as body wasting, is often associated with loss of fatty tissue and skeletal muscle fibers. It can occur either alone or combined with anorexia in a clinical presentation commonly reported in cancer patients as cachexia-anorexia syndrome. This syndrome is known to cause a significant increase in death rates and disabilities among cancer patients.
The main health effects of CBD are exhibited through the activation of the Endocannabinoid system. CBD exhibits its medical effects by acting on the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2 receptors); however, its affinity to these receptors is low. CBD’s effects are also modulated through several non-cannabinoid receptors and ion channels in the body.
Based on recent research, it was noted that CB1 receptors are more widely spread in people with increased body weight, particularly in fatty tissue. Therefore, it is hypothesized that the cannabinoid system is involved with the increase in body weight, especially obesity. And, subsequently, it was postulated that cannabinoids, especially CBD, may play a critical role in the increase of body weight or weight loss.
In clinical practice, there are a wide variety of drugs that are used to treat cancer-related anorexia and cachexia; these drugs include progestins, corticosteroids, and anabolic steroids. However, their clinical effectiveness is limited, with a large number of adverse events, some of which are serious. Consequently, current research is directed to identify more valuable alternatives in terms of higher efficacy and a better safety profile. Therefore, more research has been conducted to investigate the role of cannabis, particularly THC and CBD, on body weight and whether it promotes weight gain in cancer patients or leads to weight loss as an adverse event. The results of current animal and human research studies will be discussed in this article in detail.
Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Weight Loss
It was previously described that weight loss is a common symptom in patients with advanced cancer, and its occurrence can be the outcome of various mechanisms and health problems, including depression, anorexia, and cachexia.
CBD and depression
Anxiety and depression are common psychological disorders that affect patients with cancer and can subsequently lead to the development of weight loss due to reduced food intake in affected populations. CBD has no psychotropic effects; however, it is of great importance in treating psychiatric conditions due to its antidepressant and anxiolytic properties.
A wide number of animal studies have suggested that CB exhibits various anxiolytic and antidepressant effects in animals with psychiatric disturbances. Current research highlights the non-activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors, while CBD’s psychiatric effects are modulated through the interaction between cannabidiol and 5-HT1A neuroreceptors.
Evidence regarding the use of CBD in treating depression is scarcely reported in human trials. Only one single case report of a patient with multiple substance use disorders was published in early 2020. This patient presented with severe depressive disorder, social phobia, and personality disorders. The patient was found to be irresponsive to conventional antidepressants. Therefore, CBD capsules were administered in an increasing dose (initial dose of 100 mg up to 600 mg over 8 weeks). Anxiety and depressive symptoms were significantly improved after treatment with CBD. It was also observed that social phobia and symptoms of paranoia and dissociation were greatly improved. Finally, the patient successfully quit abusing illegal drugs, including THC, without showing any withdrawal symptoms. Also, no adverse events were noted in this patient that is related to CBD use. Although the current evidence highlights the beneficial role of CBD in treating depression, which potentially impacts weight loss, further research is still warranted to reach definitive conclusions before generalizing the use of CBD in this population.
CBD and anorexia
Based on recent human studies, dronabinol drug (synthetic THC) has shown great beneficial effects in the treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss, particularly in patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Furthermore, dronabinol has been approved by the United States (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this particular indication.
CBD and cachexia
Cachexia may occur simultaneously with anorexia leading to a condition called Cachexia-Anorexia Syndrome (CAS), which has detrimental effects in patients with cancer. In a recent randomized, double-blinded clinical trial, the therapeutic effect of cannabis extract (combined 2.5 mg THC and 1 mg CBD orally twice daily) was compared to that of THC alone (2.5 mg orally twice daily) and placebo for 6 consecutive weeks in 164 patients with cachexia-anorexia syndrome. Even though a greater proportion of patients (73%) in the cannabis extract group witnessed an increase in appetite compared to THC alone (58%) and placebo (69%), no significant differences between studied medications were noted as regards the appetite and associated quality of life. The small sample size of this trial could account for the insignificant changes that were noted, and therefore, more clinical trials of larger sample sizes are still needed to confirm the beneficial effects and safety profile of CBD in the treatment of anorexia and cachexia in cancer patients.
Can Cannabidiol be Used to Reduce Body Weight?
It is still unclear whether CBD can reduce weight or not. Based on a 2-year animal study, it was reported that CBD is associated with a strong dose-related effect in reducing the overall body weight gain, with a dose-related reduction in the amount of consumed food as well as food conversion efficiency.
That being said, these findings are based on a small number of observations, with no human studies to support such results. Therefore, until solid evidence, based on actual human data, has been conducted, the use of CBD in reducing body weight should not be practiced.
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