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Effects of one of the most popular cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD), on metabolism and gut health are fairly complicated due to the complex way the CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is responsible for maintaining the human body in homeostasis.
On the other hand, it is well known that the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) increases the feeling of hunger which causes “the munchies”. This, in turn, indicates that THC directly affects metabolism in humans in a fairly straightforward manner.
CBD has been shown to have the ability to alleviate many health issues ranging from anxiety and stress to seizures and diabetes while being completely non-psychotic and with minimal associated side effects (hyperlink to side effects article).
So, can CBD change our metabolism and gut health and in what ways?
Read on to find out the effects of CBD on your metabolism and gut health.
CBD and its effects on metabolism
Research has shown that CBD indeed has a surprisingly direct effect on the metabolism, akin to that of the THC compound but very different in terms of the results.
A study published in the Mollecular and Cellular Biochemistry journal demonstrated that CBD affects metabolism by promoting a process called “fat browning” in immature fat cells (preadipocytes).
Fat browning refers to the modification of the white-colored fat tissue into beige-colored fat tissue, whereby white fat tissue stores energy whereas the beige fat tissue expends it.
Furthermore, the fat browning process changes metabolism in multiple ways:
- Increases the number and the activity of mitochondria, thus boosting the metabolism
- Stimulates the genes and the proteins that enhance breakdown and oxidation of fat
- Decreases the generation of fat cells
In conclusion, this study shows that CBD promotes lipid metabolism and thus may be explored as a promising therapeutic agent to fight obesity.
However, as mentioned previously, CBD’s effect on the metabolism is complicated and the compound actually has a very peculiar effect on appetite and hunger.
By acting on the ECS, CBD is able to stimulate the appetite of malnourished people such as the cancer patients on chemotherapy, while simultaneously suppressing the appetite of people who need to lose weight such as those affected by obesity. If you want to learn more about this mechanism and the full range of effects CBD has on weight loss.
CBD and its effects on gut health
Scientists have suggested that there is evidence that the imbalance of the ECS may play a role in gut health degradation and the occurrence of gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leaky gut and so on.
For now, we know that cannabinoids such as CBD may be able to treat different gastrointestinal disorders by targeting the ECS. This hypothesis will have to be examined further by the scientific community through clinical studies.
Nonetheless, it is evident that CBD helps to maintain the ECS in balance in a natural and safe manner which, in turn, should promote the human body’s state of homeostasis.
Gut health is extremely important as the digestive tract encompasses a large number of CB2 receptors of the ECS which are distributed predominantly in cells and tissues of the immune system.
Furthermore, the scientific research of the past few decades has shed light on the critical role of gut health in overall health, whereby an unhealthy gut can contribute to a wide range of serious health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune conditions, depression, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
A gut health issue can also be directly related to less critical conditions such as the common flu that you end up battling for days on end or even an annoying breakout of acne.
Now let us focus on the abovementioned frequent gut health disorders and briefly examine how CBD may positively affect each one of them.
CBD and inflammatory bowel disease
A recent study published in 2016 in Gastroenterology and Hepatology claims that cannabinoids have grown increasingly popular as a potential therapy for IBD.
It goes on to claim, as expected, that studies have shown that the modulation of the ECS plays a key role in the pathogenesis of IBD.
While further specialized medical trials are required to demonstrate objective improvement in IBD, the use of cannabinoids may currently be reserved for symptomatic control in patients with severe IBD.
CBD and irritable bowel syndrome
IBS is a long term functional bowel disorder characterized by irregular bowel habits, bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort that can act together to considerably lower the life quality of the affected individual.
Interestingly, CBD has already shown several positive effects on IBS symptoms. It seems to reduce the frequency of bowel spasms, promotes a healthy appetite by suppressing nausea, neutralizes abdominal pains and aches, and also regulates intestinal motility.
For further information on the effects of CBD on IBS.
CBD and leaky gut
Leaky gut occurs due to the issues with gut permeability which may lead to numerous autoimmune conditions and chronic health conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple sclerosis.
Essentially, the gut lining consists of a barrier of epithelial cells that are interlinked by tight junction proteins. These junctions present a “valve” between your gut and your bloodstream, controlling what passes between them. Ideally, nutrients should be allowed to pass through while harmful substances should be blocked from entering the bloodstream.
Once tight junctions start malfunctioning for whatever reason they become increasingly permeable and allow passage of harmful substances, resulting in a leaky gut disorder and potential inflammation.
Numerous underlying causes of the leaky gut disorder have been identified. These range from an imbalance in the gut microbiota, chronic stress and genetic susceptibility to inappropriate nutrition and toxin overload.
A recent paper published in the United European Gastroenterology Journal demonstrates that CBD is able to restore the intestinal barrier integrity through the involvement of the CB1 receptor of the ECS.
Thus, CBD may be an essential ingredient for the intrinsic permeability recovery of the abovementioned tight junctions.