Consuming cannabis and losing weight at the same time might seem like a contradiction because of weed’s most well-known effects is causing “the munchies”. So why would anyone ever recommend cannabis as a weight loss medicine?
Cannabis has a number of different compounds called cannabinoids. THC is the most famous because that is the one that makes you high. Some scientists are linking tetrahydrocannabinol—or THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis—with weight loss.
But there are other cannabinoids like THCV, which may actually help you to lose weight. While THC increases appetite, THCV suppresses it. It also seems to have an effect on blood sugar regulation. Finding a strain with a higher amount of THCV could be the key to finding a strain that keeps your appetite down.
THC seems to bump metabolism over time, so even if there is an initial hit of the munchies, the metabolism boost compensates. You don’t have to be a frequent cannabis consumer to lose pounds. A one-time user bumps his metabolism for up to four weeks, so getting high a couple of times a month can get you noticeably trimmer, studies revealed.
THC may also improve the gut biome, which also affects weight. Obesity is linked to higher levels of a group of bacteria called Firmicutes, and lower of another, Bacteroidetes. A 2015 animal study from the University of Calgary in Canada, obese mice on a high-calorie diet were given THC. Their gut bacteria levels normalized, and they stopped gaining weight.
It appears that long-term users of cannabis, despite the munchies phenomenon, do have a lower rate of obesity than non-smokers. They also have a lower rate of metabolic syndrome. This is a set of symptoms that pushes people toward obesity, diabetes, and other health problems caused by weight gain.
In the study, 8500 people responded about obesity and their marijuana use. 14% of the users had metabolic syndrome compared to 22% of the non-smokers. The question is now how much and how long would you have to take marijuana before you see a change in metabolic syndrome. More research is needed.