In a groundbreaking exploration into the therapeutic use of cannabis, a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity has revealed a potential association between cannabis consumption and reductions in weight and body mass index (BMI).
While the study sheds light on a possible link between the endocannabinoid system and obesity, the effects of cannabis and its derivatives on body metrics require further study.
However, researchers wrote that “these findings suggest that cannabis and subproducts could be considered adjuncts in obesity treatment by helping to reduce relevant anthropometric measurements,” which refers to noninvasive quantitative measurements of the body.
The results mirror those found in past studies, including one that found that CBD may be able to help people better control their weight.
Findings Based on Review of Controlled Trials
To delve into the impact of cannabis on anthropometric measures, researchers undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials conducted before March 2023. The criteria for inclusion encompassed intervention studies evaluating changes in obesity indicators among adults using cannabis and its derivatives.
The comprehensive analysis involved 27 studies with a total of 4,394 participants, divided into a cannabis intervention group comprising 2,674 individuals and a control group of 1,720. The follow-up periods ranged from 42 to 1,338 days, and participants’ ages spanned from 18 to 70 years old.
Various cannabis interventions were explored in the studies, including Rimonabant, THC and analogs, cannabidiol, β-caryophyllene, and hemp oil. Comparing the cannabis group with the control group, the study revealed a reduction in mean weight by 1.87 kg and a decrease in mean waist circumference by 2.19 cm.
Additionally, there was a slight decrease in mean BMI and a slight increase in body fat percentage among cannabis users.
Limitations of the Study
Despite these intriguing findings, the study is not without its limitations. The researchers acknowledged the small number of included studies, the potential for cannabis misuse in clinical settings, and the absence of information regarding participants’ food intake.
The researchers emphasized the need for additional studies employing robust methodological designs and controlling significant variables such as intake, diet quality, previous nutritional status, and physical activity. These, they argue, are crucial for advancing research in the field and gaining a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between cannabis and its potential impact on body weight.
Past studies have shown that tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), which occurs naturally in cannabis, shows signs of being highly effective in controlling appetite. A study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research found that THCV provides appetite control, glycemic control, neuroprotection and reduced side effects.
The study reports that in research with rodents, “THCV decreases appetite, increases satiety, and up-regulates energy metabolism, making it a clinically useful remedy for weight loss and management of obesity and type 2 diabetic patients.”
As the cannabis landscape continues to evolve, these findings may open doors to further exploration of the therapeutic potential of the cannabis plant.