While the verdict is still out on whether or not CBD oil can support a weight loss or… A proprietary hemp extract known as Nitro-V containing the cannabinoids CBD, THCV and CBDV shows promise as a weight loss aid, according to research funded by the NIH. Participants in the study lost up to 22 pounds over 90 days.
Does CBD oil help with weight loss? Here’s how CBD plays a role in your fitness
Let’s be honest, CBD oil has become a recent craze in the health and wellness industry. Also known as cannabidiol, the second-most prevalent ingredient in cannabis, CBD is growing in popularity thanks to its lack of a “high” feeling — as well as a laundry list of purported health benefits — which has led both consumers and researchers to ask: Can CBD oil help with weight loss?
While the verdict is still out on whether or not CBD oil can support a weight loss or fitness routine, here’s what you need to know.
What is CBD oil?
CBD is one of the two main cannabinoids (or active compounds) found in the cannabis plant. Unlike the more commonly known THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD is a non-intoxicating extract, which means that it doesn’t cause the “high” commonly associated with cannabis use. While recreational use of cannabis has made many skeptical of CBD, it continues to rise in popularity thanks to its many potential health benefits — including treating pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorder.
So how does CBD oil help? Researchers believe that it might work with the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS) — a system that’s still being heavily researched — but is known to play an important role in the modulation of sleep, mood, appetite, memory, and hormone function.
“The endocannabinoid system’s main function is homeostasis: homeo meaning same, stasis meaning state,” says Dr. Jeff Chen, who is the founder of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative as well as the CEO and CoFounder of Radicle Science. “So the endocannabinoid system’s job is to maintain an equilibrium state in light of changing conditions. For example, if there is inflammation, endocannabinoid release is triggered to reduce inflammation. If there is excessive neuron firing that is signaling pain, endocannabinoid release is triggered to reduce neuron firing and pain signals.”
According to Dr. Chen, there are have animal studies suggesting that CBD can help slow the breakdown of endocannabinoid. But there isn’t any conclusive evidence that proves CBD has the same impact on humans because we’re still learning about how exactly CBD works.
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5 ways CBD oil may help with weight loss
While a direct link between CBD usage and weight loss is still being researched, there are a few ways that CBD oil might be effective in supporting weight loss.
One of the most well-known uses of CBD oil is as an analgesic, AKA a pain reliever. A 2012 study indicates that CBD oil may be an effective treatment for those suffering from chronic pain, and other studies have also explored the effects of CBD use on patients with arthritis, noting a significant decrease in pain and inflammation with no adverse side effects.
This means if chronic pain has been preventing you from being able to exercise, CBD may provide you much-needed relief to restart your fitness journey, which in turn can help with weight loss.
While CBD’s stress-relieving properties might not seem like they’d directly impact weight loss, experts suggest otherwise.
“It can lift your mood and give you more motivation to do your workout,” says Dr. Felecia Dawson, a physician and cannabis advocate. Even better? “It can decrease pain and inflammation associated with exercising.”
How? Because CBD can improve your overall mood — with initial research suggesting that CBD might be a good treatment for anxiety, panic disorder, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and even post-traumatic stress disorder — as your general mental health and sense of wellbeing improves, you’re far more likely to hit the gym. Motivation is a critical factor in whether or not many people reach their fitness goals, which is why supplementing with CBD might give you the boost you need to actually do your workout and stick to your fitness plan.
Boosting the metabolism
While CBD might have an indirect effect on weight loss, initial research suggests that it might benefit weight loss by increasing our metabolism. That’s because CBD impacts both our CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system that are associated with metabolism and hunger. Unlike CB1 receptors, CB2 receptors are not always active, but CBD can help activate them. When active, the CB2 receptors have been shown to have anti-obesity effects.
While the effects of CBD on the metabolism have largely only been studied in animals, a 2015 study on rats showed that CBD oil activated the CB2 receptors producing “a profound reduction in body weight gain” — even without reduced food intake. While much is to be explored about the ECS and CB2 receptors, this suggests that CBD usage might play a significant role in boosting our metabolism.
A further look into CBD’s effect on our metabolism reveals something researchers call fat “browning.” Typically, adults have an abundance of white fat cells — responsible for storing fat — located beneath the skin and in the abdominal cavity. The second type of fat cells, known as brown fat cells, are sparse and located in regions like the shoulder blades and spinal cord. More brown cells in the body are associated with overall better health and are known to encourage weight loss.
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A 2016 study revealed that CBD may interact with these fat cells in a huge way: fat “browning.” CBD in the body can promote a process known as transdifferentiation in which white fat cells are converted into brown fat cells. As more white fat cells become brown fat cells, lipid metabolism (aka fat burning) is increased.
Another promising weight loss area that CBD oil might impact is its potential to increase energy or wakefulness. However, more studies need to be done to confirm whether or not this is true.
While this isn’t directly linked to weight loss, having more energy typically translates to more energy being expended. If you feel an increase in energy after using CBD, you’re might be more likely to go for a walk around the block or make it to your workout class.
Improved sleep quality
As an added bonus, CBD oil can also help improve your sleep. Not only does this mean you’ll wake up feeling more rested when your alarm goes off for your morning workout. Better sleep can actually play a direct role in improving your weight loss.
In fact, experts suggest that sleep is one of the most critical — and most overlooked — factors in weight loss. A lack of sleep can translate into increased appetite, slower metabolism, reduced exercise levels, and more — all of which can greatly diminish your weight loss.
Sleep also plays an important role in recovery, meaning your night-time CBD use isn’t just helping you relax. It’s also making it easier for you to hit your fitness goals.
How to use CBD oil for weight loss
If you’re ready to incorporate CBD into your fitness routine, Dr. Dawson recommends starting with an organic or Clean Green Certified product that is third-party tested. She suggests using broad or full-spectrum CBD to get better results at a lower dose — especially when compared to an isolate.
As for when you should take CBD? It’s really up to you.
“If you want to absorb as much as you can from an oil, consume it after a meal containing fat post-workout. If you want to consume before the workout, a tablespoon of coconut oil may help you absorb more of it,” Dr. Dawson says. “If you want to inhale it, I recommend an electronic vaporizer made for dry herb before or after the activity. An ethanol-based tincture can be held under the tongue and can be used before or after the activity.”
While CBD oil has many positive effects, research is still pending for a direct connection between its usage and weight loss. CBD oil isn’t meant to be a holy grail product — or a substitute for living a healthy lifestyle.
Study Suggests Hemp Extract Is An Effective Weight-Loss Aid
A proprietary hemp extract shows promise as a supplement to help promote weight loss, according to research funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. Data from the double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that all 100 participants who took Nitro-V hemp extract daily lost weight, shedding up to 22 pounds over a 90 days. The minimum weight loss for those taking the supplement was five pounds, while 64% of participants in the placebo group either gained weight or saw no change.
The study subjects taking the hemp extract, which is rich in cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabidivarin (CBDV) and other cannabinoids, also showed improvements in other metabolic health metrics and key wellness indicators without changing their diet and exercise habits. Participants taking Nitro-V saw their body mass index (BMI) scores drop by an average of three points and lost an average of 2.4 inches from their waist measurements. On average, study subjects in the placebo group gained weight and saw their BMI remain the same.
Cannabis (hemp) extract.
Nearly 75% Of Americans Are Overweight
According to data from the CDC, more than 73% of adults 20 and older in the United States are overweight or obese. Health risks associated with obesity can be severe and include heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Further CDC data shows that between 2013 and 2016, more than 49% of American adults reported trying to lose weight in the previous 12 months.
“Those working to reduce their weight and enhance their overall health are looking for any advantage they can find to help them stick to their exercise and nutrition regimens,” Arthur Jaffee, CEO of Nitro-V manufacturer ECS Brands, said in a press release. “With the results of these studies, we think that Nitro-V could be the tool to help many unlock their weight-loss potential and feel better.”
To conduct the clinical study, which has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, investigators assembled a group of 125 subjects to participate in the research. A total of 100 participants were given either one or two 50mg servings of Nitro-V daily, with the remaining 25 subjects receiving a placebo. Study subjects were not told that they were participating in a weight-loss trial and made no changes to their diet or exercise habits.
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At the beginning and end of the 90-day study period, participants visited the Mayo Clinical Campus in Scottsdale, Arizona and completed standardized surveys for health factors including nutrition, appetite, anxiety and pain. Researchers also monitored subjects’ weight, BMI, abdominal girth and vital signs and performed complete blood analysis panels to measure blood sugar, cholesterol and organ health, as well as other diagnostic tests. A statistician analyzed data collected during the study to identify trends and evaluate the significance of the results. The research was funded by a National Institutes of Health small business grant and was conducted by a contract researcher with 20 years of experience in product safety studies.
Each softgel microcapsule serving of Nitro-V contains 50mg of hemp extract with a combination of cannabinoids including CBD, THCV and CBDV in a base of organic hemp seed oil. The solventless hemp extract contains the complete cannabinoid profile found in the source plant, including less than 0.1% THC. Further processing boosts levels of THCV and CBDV in the supplement.
The ‘Skinny Cannabinoid’
Cannabinoids from cannabis including hemp act on the body’s endocannabinoid system, which helps maintain physiological, cognitive and emotional stability. Research has shown that THCV can act as an effective appetite suppressant, earning it the nickname the “skinny cannabinoid.” Other studies have shown that THCV can also help regulate blood sugar levels. THCV has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-seizure properties.
Nitro-V hemp extract softgels by ECS Brands.
Photo courtesy of ECS Brands
Jaffee notes that recent research found that CBD and THCV can affect lipid and glucose metabolism in animals, both important factors for maintaining a healthy weight. The study also found that CBD had multiple beneficial effects on hyperglycemia, mainly due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Additional evidence from animal studies shows that CBD modulates cardiovascular response to stress, which plays a role in weight gain and loss. The connection between CBDV and weight loss, however, is “less direct,” he says.
“Research shows that CBDV is a powerful anti-inflammatory, which can play a role in both appetite and weight,” Jaffee writes in an email. “Reduced inflammation in the body helps optimize performance of metabolic organs and fat cells themselves are metabolic organs. Inflamed fat cells don’t function properly, and can contribute toward unhealthy weight gain.”
The Nitro-V study also revealed several other changes in the participants’ health and wellness, including many with the potential to affect weight loss. Participants using the supplement in the research showed a 61% reduction in hunger and had less frequent food cravings. Additionally, all 37 subjects taking Nitro-V who were classified as prediabetic saw their blood sugar levels return to normal at the end of the 90-day study. Subjects also reported less difficulty resisting food cravings and showed improvements in sleep, happiness and anxiety levels. The research also showed the hemp extract to be well tolerated and safe, with blood work revealing that all safety and toxicity levels remained within healthy, normal ranges.
A field of hemp in rural Belgium.
While the study was designed to investigate the effect that Nitro-V can have on weight loss, Jaffee says that the data indicates the supplement may have other health and wellness benefits as well.
“The ultimate goal of the study was to identify the overarching power of the ECS system, and the results point towards effects beyond weight loss and appetite suppression,” he writes. “But as with all cannabinoid and ECS researchers today, we still have many unanswered questions about how interactions between cannabinoids and the ECS lead to health improvements.”