Does CBD Make You Hungry?

Is there any relation between CBD & Cravings?

The answer is: Not directly! “Now, what does that mean”, you may ask. 

Well, we’ve heard of how marijuana gives us the munchies – a tremendous urge to eat, hunger pangs or cravings for food – minutes after smoking up. While the high may seem pleasurable, the resultant hunger pangs lead to binging, which in turn causes weight gain – an undesirable outcome to marijuana use. 

These hunger pangs are caused by THC-content in marijuana. THC, which causes intoxication, also causes these hunger pangs.  

Then, does CBD oil, which has less than 0.3% THC or even zero-THC, have the same effect on our body? In other words, “Does CBD make you hungry as THC does?” or “Does CBD give you the munchies?”

Short answer: No, it USUALLY DOES NOT. 

Although CBD and THC are both cannabinoids, found in cannabis plants, they DO NOT interact with the body (basically our endocannabinoid system) in the same way. While THC binds with certain neurotransmitters that stimulate hunger, CBD does not. 

So, how does CBD interact with our body?

Everyone knows that our brain controls our whole body, its physiological processes, the intensity and quality of all kinds of feelings. By feelings, we don’t just mean our 5 senses and our emotional balance. 

Hunger is a feeling that is triggered by your brain, telling you that you are running out of energy. But, how does it happen? 

It is the brain’s hypothalamus that regulates the secretion of two very critical hormones – ghrelin and leptin – also known as hunger hormones. These two hormones play an important role in managing your appetite. While ghrelin triggers hunger or increases your appetite, leptin, mostly made of fatty cells, inhibits it. 

Now, CB1 receptors, a neurotransmitter (also an endocannabinoid receptor) interacts with the part of the hypothalamus that controls ghrelin. As THC directly binds with CB1 receptors, its use causes feelings of hunger soon after use. This is why smoking marijuana, which contains high levels of THC, makes you feel like you could eat a horse! 

However, CBD does not bind with CB1 receptors (but the CB2 receptors).

In fact, CBD is a CB1 inhibitor or blocker, i.e., it acts as a hindrance to CB1 receptor’s function of triggering hunger. So much so, some studies have indicated that CBD has the power to control cravings by stimulating the release of leptin.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that CBD can be used as a weight gain remedy or weight loss therapy. 

Does CBD give you the ‘munchies’ like THC

Although CBD doesn’t make you feel hungry like THC does, in some cases, CBD products can trigger hunger. That’s due to the presence of THC in some full-spectrum (whole plant) extracts. 

A large enough dose of such a CBD product could lead to a slight boost in appetite. Even if the amount of THC in your product is not enough for you to give you a “high”, its presence above 0.3% (by weight) can trigger hunger pangs. 

Besides, even the slightest intoxication heightens all of your senses, including those of smell and taste. So, if you feel hungry, and have some food nearby, they would seem more desirable than they normally do. Of course, it varies from person to person. 

However, that won’t happen if you take CBD isolates or take any CBD oil extract in small to medium-sized doses. That’s because CBD is generally a “hunger inhibitor”. 

CBD stimulates healthy appetite…not binging

In certain cases, CBD may, in fact, stimulate a healthy appetite. 

  1. Owing to CBD’s interaction with CB2 receptors, it effectively controls the immune system, and hence curbs inflammation and pain, relief from which induces a person to regain his or her normal appetite. A 2012 study [4], published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, indicated CBD could offer a new treatment option for people suffering from chronic pain and inflammation.
  2. Someone who is suffering from nausea due to some reason (illness or otherwise) can start losing weight fast, as they are unable to keep their food down. Such loss of appetite can be reversed by the use of CBD. CBD indirectly activates the somatodendritic 5-HT(1A) auto-receptors that offers an anti-emetic or anti-nausea effect. So, in a way, CBD can stimulate appetite. This was found true in a 2012 study [5], published in the British Journal of Pharmacology. In this study, the experiment was done on lab rats. Nonetheless, this property is also exhibited when administered to humans through an intravenous injection. 
  3. Another reason why people often lose their appetite is emotional distress, like anxiety or depression. Studies have found that CBD oil has been effective in stabilizing mood by activating the CB2 receptors and inhibiting the action of CB1 receptors. A 2015 analysis [6] of earlier studies showed that CBD oil has potential therapeutic effects on individuals suffering from different forms of anxiety – social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, as well as a post-traumatic stress disorder. However, this research only talked about short-term alleviation of anxiety among people with anxiety disorders. 

Research proves CBD may trigger hunger pangs in some cases 

Some studies have indeed indicated, although not anonymously, that CBD may cause weight gain among some individuals. 

  1. In 2015 study [1], published in Epilepsy & Behavior, parents of 30% of the children, treated with CBD for infantile spasms and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (a rare type of epilepsy exhibited among children), complained of increased appetite in their children.  
  2. In another study [2], conducted on children with Dravet syndrome (another rate type of epilepsy), found that appetite change was indeed a side effect. However, while some patients experienced an increase in appetite, others felt a decrease in appetite. 

As the findings are not consistent, it is still too early to say whether CBD can, in fact, promote weight gain. It is possible that the CBD oil extracts used in these tests contained some levels of THC. 

Okay, so CBD doesn’t generally promote appetite. But, does it promote weight loss?

We usually associate marijuana with increased appetite. But, it has been seen that marijuana users usually weigh less than non-users.

A case in point: A review [3] of two separate studies, conducted on a total of 50,000 people, found that the obesity rate among regular cannabis users was only 14–17%, whereas it was up to 22–25% among those who haven’t used marijuana in the past 1 year. 

It could be due to the high CBD content in marijuana. However, the study did not touch upon that point.

CBD boosts metabolism and Reduces Food intake

Although CBD doesn’t directly inhibit CB1 receptors’ functions, studies indicate that it influences other molecules to block them off, thereby reducing appetite and preventing overeating in some people.

  • A two-week study [7], published in Neuroscience Letters, found evidence of decreasing body weight among rats injected with CBD daily. Higher the dose, the more pronounced were the effects. 
  • In another study [8], published in the Psychopharmacology, rats administered with CBD exhibited a more significant decrease in appetite than those exposed to other cannabinoids, including cannabigerol and cannabinol.
  • The authors of a 2018 [9] study paper, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, indicated that CBD, a CB1 receptor antagonist, decreases appetite, thereby helping in controlling obesity.

CBD promotes ‘browning’ of fat cells

Advocates of CBD for weight loss believe that CBD transforms “white fat”, which is bad for health, to “brown fat”, which breaks down easily into energy, thus helping the body expel all excess calories. 

White fat, which is only good for protecting the organs from external harm, is associated with different chronic metabolic disorders, like diabetes, obesity and heart diseases. However, brown burns easily and generates an abundance of energy. People with a healthy height-weight proportion usually have more brown fat, compared to overweight ones [10]

According to a test-tube study [11], published in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry in 2016, CBD can effectively convert white fat into brown fat by enhancing the power of certain genetic components and proteins that promote brown fat. The research also indicated that CBD can stimulate the breakdown of all fats more efficiently. 

Stress, Cravings & CBD

Just like some people bite their nails when stressed, others binge. These cravings are more mental than physical. In such cases, using CBD does not directly address the hunger pangs. Instead, it helps distress you. 

We’ve already discussed how CBD helps relieve anxiety. Binging is usually associated with depression, and CBD helps with that as well. 

  • According to a 2018 study [12], published in the Molecular Neurobiology science journal, researchers indicated that CBD is a potential fast-acting antidepressant. 
  • According to a 2014 [13] review of older studies, published in CNS & Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets, CBD seems to possess antidepressant and antianxiety properties. 

Our Takeaway

While most studies have proved that CBD can effectively help increase metabolism, burn fat and transform white fat into brown fat, besides curb cravings, several studies have indicated that this cannabinoid can stimulate a healthy appetite. 

Even though CBD doesn’t interact directly with the endocannabinoid system to provoke hunger, it still promotes a healthy appetite by helping the body overcome nausea, anxiety, pain, and inflammation –conditions that tend to reduce appetite. People who aren’t suffering from depression, anxiety or nausea, feel happy and eat more freely, for the love of eating, not because they have a craving. 

“Happy eating” doesn’t lead to as much overeating as “depressed binging” does. Maintaining a balanced food intake and weight control is totally up to the individual when he is “happy eating”. However, when a person is binging out of depression, he or she has almost no control over his or her actions. 

CBD does not generally promote weight loss, although it has been seen to at times stimulate appetite in certain cases. What is definitely does is that it alleviates a person’s mood, possible vomiting tendencies as well as pain and inflammation. 

This naturally gives control over eating back to the individual. To eat or not to eat is entirely an individual choice! 


Research Citations

  1. Perceived efficacy of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis extracts for treatment of pediatric epilepsy: A potential role for infantile spasms and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome; Epilepsy & Behavior; April 29, 2015; Hussain SA, Zhou R, Jacobson C, Weng J, Cheng E, Lay J, Hung P, Lerner JT, Sankar R; 
  2. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies; Cannabis Cannabinoid Research; June 1, 2017; Kerstin Iffland, and Franjo Grotenhermen;   
  3. Obesity and cannabis use: results from 2 representative national surveys; American Journal of Epidemiology; August 24, 2011; Le Strat Y, Le Foll B; 
  4. Journal of Experimental Medicine; 2012 Jun 4; 209(6): 1121–1134; Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors;  
  5. Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic component of cannabis, attenuates vomiting and nausea-like behaviour via indirect agonism of 5-HT(1A) somatodendritic autoreceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus; British Journal of Pharmacology; April 2012; Rock EM, Bolognini D, Limebeer CL, Cascio MG, Anavi-Goffer S, Fletcher PJ, Mechoulam R, Pertwee RG, Parker LA; 
  6. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders; Neurotherapeutics; September 4, 2015; Esther M. Blessing, Maria M. SteenkampJorge ManzanaresCharles R Marmar; 
  7. Cannabidiol decreases body weight gain in rats: involvement of CB2 receptors; Neuroscience Letters; December 21, 2010; Ignatowska-Jankowska B, Jankowski MM, Swiergiel AH;
  8. Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns; Psychopharmacology (Berlin); April 28, 2012; Farrimond JA, Whalley BJ, Williams CM; 
  9. Role of Cannabinoids in Obesity; International Journal of Molecular Sciences; September 10, 2018; Francesca Rossi, Francesca Punzo, Giuseppina Rosaria Umano, Maura Argenziano, and Emanuele Miraglia Del Giudice; 
  10. Can Brown Fat Win the Battle against White Fat?; Journal of Cell Physiology; October 2015; Sawsan Elattar1 and Ande Satyanarayana; 
  11.  Cannabidiol promotes browning in 3T3-L1 adipocytes; Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry; April 11, 2016; Hilal Ahmad Parray & Jong Won Yun; 
  12. Cannabidiol Induces Rapid and Sustained Antidepressant-Like Effects Through Increased BDNF Signaling and Synaptogenesis in the Prefrontal Cortex; Molecular Neurobiology; Amanda J Sales, Manoela V Fogaça, Ariandra G Sartim, Vitor S Pereira, Gregers Wegener, Francisco S Guimarães, & Sâmia RL Joca; May 22, 2018; 
  13. Antidepressant-Like and Anxiolytic-Like Effects of Cannabidiol: A Chemical Compound of Cannabis sativa; CNS & Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets, 2014; Alexandre R de Mello Schier, Natalia P. de Oliveira Ribeiro, Danielle S. Coutinho, Sergio Machado, Oscar Arias-Carrión, José A. Crippa, Antonio W. Zuard, Antonio E. Nardi, and Adriana C Silva; 
Author Details
Senior Editor & Researcher , Greenthevoteok
Matt Hansel is a Medical Practitioner, who has been writing and researching about cannabis since 2014.  His popular quotes which we like are: \"Don\'t use CBD oil for a cure, use it as a precaution\"  \"CBD should be considered as any other vitamin supplement and your body needs it!\"