Using THC has a tendency to make you unreasonably hungry. Cannabis users are ironically less likely to become obese, but the overwhelming craving for food many people experience after ingesting THC has become a pop culture meme and a seemingly axiomatic truth of the weed experience.
Whether or not THC really makes you hungrier than normal, CBD is a unique cannabinoid with effects that differ widely from those of its intoxicating cousin. In this guide, we’ll provide you with the available information on how CBD impacts your appetite, and then we’ll cover everything you need to know regarding CBD and weight loss.
Does CBD increase your appetite?
CBD can either increase or decrease your appetite. When your appetite is triggered, your digestive system signals your brain that it's time to consume food. These signals then generate an imminent need to eat soon.
Appetite is different from hunger, the feeling of the absence of food in your digestive tract. You can have a powerful appetite for food even when you aren’t actually hungry, which is the type of appetite commonly associated with cannabis use.
You might be surprised to learn most studies indicate CBD reduces your appetite, which makes it remarkably different from most cannabinoids. Let’s explore some of the available evidence regarding the ability of CBD to make you feel like eating food:
Studies on CBD and appetite
A 2011 study found that CBD reduced bodyweight, and the researchers further found that higher concentrations of CBD offered the most profound weight loss effects. Another study found that CBD reduced food intake while both cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG) increased food intake.
We still don’t know enough about CBD to draw any firm conclusions, but limited research suggests the effects of CBD at the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors could be responsible for the weight loss and reduced food intake observed in these studies. Other cannabinoids, such as THC, appear to stimulate the cannabinoid receptors, but CBD appears to reduce the receptivity of the CB1 and CB2 receptors to intoxicating cannabinoids. By reducing activity at the cannabinoid receptors, CBD may theoretically block the influence of appetite-inducing cannabinoids.
CBD and fat cell “browning”
In a study from 2016, researchers observed that CBD promoted the conversion of white fat into brown fat, which is generally an indicator of healthy weight in humans. White fat is the most common type of fat, and it is used to store energy in the body and cushion your organs. An overabundance of white fat, however, can lead to chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, which is why it’s healthy to keep your ratio of brown fat to white fat high.
This study reported an increase in the expression of genes and proteins that promote brown fat generation after the administration of CBD. While these results don’t directly bear on the relationship between CBD and hunger, they may help explain the apparent correlation between CBD and reduced bodyweight.
Does CBD affect your metabolism?
In addition to their effects on appetite, the CB1 and CB2 receptors in your brain are also involved in metabolism. When your metabolism increases, you tend to lose weight.
Since CBD appears to suppress the activity of the cannabinoid receptors, this cannabinoid could impact your metabolism. Research indicates that activation of the CB1 and CB2 increases hunger and reduces metabolism while “blockade of CB1 suppresses hunger and induces hypophagia [reduced food intake].”
Does CBD affect weight loss?
Based on the available evidence, it’s possible science may one day prove CBD an effective weight loss tool. The studies we’ve covered so far seem to indicate CBD reduces appetite, but some research conflicts with this position.
For instance, a 2015 scientific survey of parents of children who used CBD for epilepsy found this cannabinoid significantly increased appetite in 30% of children. Another study of children using CBD for epilepsy found that CBD could either increase or decrease appetite. Plus, around 6% of CBD users report increased hunger as a side effect of this cannabinoid, muddying the waters regarding CBD’s potential usefulness for weight loss.
Hunger differences between CBD and THC
Based on abundant anecdotal evidence, there appear to be significant differences between CBD and THC when it comes to hunger. Even though CBD has become nearly as popular as THC over the last few years, reports of CBD causing unreasonable hunger are far less common. If you’re concerned that using CBD could make you hungry, remember thousands of CBD users have enjoyed this cannabinoid without emptying their fridges overnight.
Why doesn’t CBD make you hungry?
While CBD suppresses the activity of the CB1 and CB2 receptors, THC increases the activity of the CB1 and CB2 receptors more than practically any other substance. It would be natural to assume, therefore, that THC might increase hunger, reduce metabolism, and lead to weight gain.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this guide, though, research indicates THC users are less likely to become obese than people who do not use cannabis. This information is based on a simple survey of 50,000 individuals, so it doesn’t speak to the possible reasons behind this observed trend. Regardless, the available evidence indicates neither CBD or THC usually make you hungry enough to become obese.
Researchers recently conducted a clinical study into the potential relationship between THC use and increased hunger-related hormones. This study found that THC-rich cannabis did, in fact, increase blood concentrations of insulin, ghrelin, and other hormones related to appetite and hunger, providing the first set of clinical evidence suggesting a relationship between THC use and increased hunger. No similar clinical studies have been conducted into the potential relationships between CBD and hunger hormones.
Tips for using CBD to maintain a healthy appetite
Whether or not CBD significantly impacts your appetite, there’s plenty you can do to gain and maintain a healthy interest in food. Manifesting a balanced relationship between the rate at which you consume food and the rate that your body uses energy is the key to maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding common chronic conditions. Try these three tips if you’re keen on optimizing your appetite:
If you feel like you’re eating too much, sticking to a regular exercise regimen will help you burn calories and lose weight. If you aren’t eating enough to maintain your metabolism and keep your body at a healthy weight, exercise can also help since moving your body releases endorphins that stimulate appetite.
When you exercise to maintain a healthy appetite, you don’t need to go all-out. Just find a low-impact, daily exercise regimen and stick to it for the best results.
Add omega fatty acids
Despite their somewhat misleading name, omega fatty acids help you burn fat instead of making you fatter. Omega-3 fatty acid is the most useful substance within this group when your goal is to shed as many pounds as possible, and this fatty acid also appears to help you maintain a healthy metabolism. Incidentally, hemp seed oil is a great source of both omega-3 fatty acid and plant protein, which can both help you shed fat, build muscle, and remain healthy.
Schedule your meals
If you’re wondering if CBD increases hunger because you’re afraid you’ll eat more, setting up a daily meal routine is one way to avoid excessive snacking. If you eat at the same intervals every day, you’ll be less likely to get hungry at odd times whether you use CBD or not.
CBD and hunger: the bottom line
There’s still a lot we need to learn about CBD and its relationship with hunger. We think it's safe to say, though, that the available evidence indicates CBD is unlikely to make you excessively hungry. It’s unclear whether there’s even any significant biochemical underpinning to the THC “munchies,” so any potential connection between CBD and increased appetite is much more likely to be based in pop culture misconceptions than hard science.
CBD hunger FAQ
Let’s wrap up with a few answers to common CBD hunger questions:
1. How long does it take CBD oil to work for appetite?
In most cases, the effects of CBD oil kick in within around 30 minutes. If you’re using CBD to stimulate your appetite, however, you might be better off using a product you don’t ingest orally.
CBD vapes and flower, for instance, kick in quickly and might provide the effects you’re looking for. Just be advised that evidence suggests CBD decreases appetite more commonly than it makes you hungry.
2. Does CBD oil give you the munchies?
No, there is no scientific indication CBD of any kind causes the unreasonable desire for food known as the “munchies.” Additionally, increased hunger is not very commonly reported as an effect of using CBD. As a result, you can use CBD oil (or whichever type of CBD product you prefer) without worrying about locking away all the snacks beforehand.
3. Does CBD cause bloating?
Mild digestive discomfort is one of the most commonly reported side effects of CBD oil. Either CBD extract or one of the additional substances included in CBD tinctures might upset your stomach enough to cause bloating. Most CBD users don’t report any bloating after ingesting CBD oil, though.
If you experience bloating after using CBD oil, consider switching to an inhalable product. It’s likely that CBD is only causing digestive discomfort because it’s being processed by your digestive system, so changing the area of your body that processes CBD might provide relief.
4. Does CBD make you thirsty?
Some CBD users report dry mouth after ingesting this cannabinoid, but this side effect is relatively uncommon. Based on anecdotal evidence, THC is much more likely to make you thirsty than CBD, but you might want to keep a glass of water on hand after you use your favorite CBD product just in case.