CBD and appetite Appetite is a person’s desire to eat. It is not always related to hunger, sometimes we would like to eat more, even though we have just eaten lunch. Or it can be the other way Can CBD oil help stimulate appetite? — no, but here are several other cannabinoids that do. Is CBD an appetite Stimulant? Opinions are split. Here’s what science says about the effects of CBD on appetite.
CBD and appetite
Appetite is a person’s desire to eat. It is not always related to hunger, sometimes we would like to eat more, even though we have just eaten lunch. Or it can be the other way around: we know we should eat, because we haven’t eaten for a while, but we just don’t feel like eating. Daily repetitions of the first situation can lead to obesity, while the second one can result in a lack of essential nutrients and health problems.
Besides hunger, there are other factors that affect appetite. Most commonly our mood and emotions stimulate or supress our appetite, depending on how every individual reacts to such emotions.
Probably we are familiar with the expression “comfort food”, a food that makes us feel better. Comfort food is usually unhealthy, packed with calories, sugar and fat, like sweets and fast food. We tend to eat comfort food when we feel stressed, with a reason to feel better.
On the other hand, the same emotions, stress and anxiety, can supress our appetite, so we do not feel like eating at all. Every individual reacts differently to stressors; the same person can even react differently in different situations.
Since appetite regulation is important for our health, it is useful to know how to stimulate and supress our appetite.
Is CBD appetite stimulant?
You might be familiar with the so-called “munchies”, a common phenomenon associated with the use of cannabis. The cannabis plant that is known for stimulating appetite and therefore causing the munchies because it contains THC, which is psychotropic. But can we stimulate appetite with cannabis, but without the high?
Some studies suggest that CBD could be appetite stimulant. Let’s look at how CBD stimulates the appetite.
CBD can promote appetite through endocannabinoid receptors in two different ways. More about the endocannabinoid system and endocannabinoid receptors you can find in this blog.
The first way is CBD’s effect on CB1 receptors, which are mostly located in the central nervous system, part of which is the brain. CBD can promote the production of certain hormones, like ghrelin, which is responsible for hunger, as well as dopamine and serotonin, which are known as “mood hormones”, which can stimulate appetite in those who are lacking it in stressful situations.
Another way is through the CBD binding directly to CB2 receptors, which are present in peripheral tissues, including the gastrointestinal system. CBD therefore plays a role in the production of saliva and stomach acid, which contribute to hunger and better digestion.
Can CBD also supress appetite?
As a CB1 receptor antagonist, CBD can reduce appetite and therefore control obesity. In addition, the stimulation of CB2 receptors results in decreased inflammation and decreased food intake, which can help reduce obesity.
It was also shown in animal studies that CBD decreases food intake and could therefore affect obesity (Farrimond, 2012).
So, does CBD stimulate or supress appetite?
Actually, it can do both. We can say that CBD regulates appetite. Which is great news, since different people react differently in stressful times. CBD can be helpful for those who crave different unhealthy foods during stressful periods, as well as for those who do not feel like eating when their stress levels are above normal.
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Does CBD Make You Hungry?
Can CBD oil help stimulate appetite? — no, but here are several other cannabinoids that do.
Because cannabidiol (CBD) comes from the same plant that gives us the term “the munchies,” many people mistake the compound found in oils, gummies, and vape products, as a hunger stimulant.
However, the munchies are specific to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and the urge to eat everything in sight is linked with THC and the CB1 receptor.
CBD doesn’t have an affinity to bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to alter our feeding behavior.
Table of Contents
What Regulates Our Hunger?
The hypothalamus, aptly nicknamed the master switchboard, controls our hunger sensation, thirst, energy levels, body temperature, sleep cycle, sex drive, and much more.
According to set-point theory, we’re genetically programmed with an optimal weight range to maintain the best function of our bodies. The hypothalamus’ job is to keep us within this ideal range by turning on and off hunger signaling cues — to help us stay within homeostasis (balance).
For regulating hunger, the hypothalamus gets information from our blood sugar (glucose) levels, stomach and intestines content, and hormone activity.
Hunger is an essential part of our survival. It makes us seek resources to fuel our biological functions, but there are times that this system can get hijacked.
We can end up eating more food than we can use for energy, resulting in weight gain, or we lose appetite altogether, which also poses health risks as you’re not giving your body the nutrients it needs to function.
The hypothalamus contains nerve cells that, when activated, produce the sensation of hunger by releasing two proteins, neuropeptide Y (NPY) and agouti-related peptide (AGRP).
External and internal cues can activate this region in the hypothalamus.
Environmental influences on our appetite include:
- Social interactions
- The smell of food
- Scheduling meals
- Even something as subtle as how the food is presented
Physiological influences on our appetite include:
- Energy requirement changes from increased exercise
- Hormonal changes
- Dysfunction of systems that regulate hunger and the metabolism
CBD May Affect Your Appetite Differently
The effects of CBD may present themselves differently depending on the individual.
CBD works closely with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help it perform its duty to maintain homeostasis. Everyone’s level of homeostasis will be different depending on genetics, lifestyle factors, and stress levels, which is why some people may experience appetite suppression when taking CBD while others may experience an increase in appetite.
Our link to our appetite may also be an emotional or psychological one .
When it comes to emotion-based eating, CBD may help increase or decrease hunger simply through its ability to regulate stress levels and uplift mood. What’s more, CBD may also help treat symptoms of depression. Many people who experience depression notice a change in their appetite.
Because human research on CBD and appetite on CBD is so limited, we don’t understand the full scope of CBD’s effects on appetite. However, we can point at some of the ways CBD may change appetite and share three cannabinoids known to induce hunger.
How Can CBD Potentially Increase Appetite?
While CBD itself isn’t considered an appetite stimulant, it may have some effects that indirectly affect our appetite.
1. CBD Oil May Help Reduce Stress & Anxiety
Many people have started turning to CBD products as a gentle and natural way to manage stress symptoms, anxiety, and depression. People under a lot of stress or diagnosed with mood disorders often present with changes in appetite and eating habits.
The central nervous system activates the fight-or-flight response, releasing cortisol hormones into the bloodstream when we’re stressed. Cortisol suppresses our appetite so that we can shift focus on energy expenditure to either fight or run away for our survival .
It’s very unlikely we’re going to encounter a hungry tiger that we have to fight or run from today. However, this survival response is still very active, and it responds to psychological stressors in our modern world, such as financial difficulties, relationships problems, work stress, and social anxiety.
Proper stress management is a long-term way to improve a normal appetite. CBD increases GABA activity in the brain, which counteracts the stress response like a brake pedal .
2. CBD May Reduce Stomach Discomfort
It’s hard to have any appetite when you’re feeling nauseous or dizzy.
Preclinical trials have found CBD effective at quelling the urge to vomit, dizziness, and vertigo .
Inner-ear damage, health conditions, medication, and cancer treatment can induce nausea and vomiting, affecting one’s appetite. Calming these symptoms may be enough to allow people to regain some appetite to nourish their bodies properly.
CBD is the only cannabis-derived compound that’s widely available and federally legal for this application. However, most people find more luck stimulating their appetite with THC.
CBD May Suppress The Appetite
The effects of CBD aren’t as black and white as you might think. Because everyone’s genetics, lifestyle, and experience with CBD can vary so drastically, so can the effects of CBD.
More people experience appetite suppression with CBD than they do with any stimulating effects. Some researchers even suggest that it may be a helpful compound in supporting weight loss — but there’s not enough research to substantiate these claims.
Let’s briefly cover some of the ways CBD may reduce the appetite.
1. CBD Improves Hypothalamus Sensitivity
The hypothalamus decides whether we need to eat more or when we’ve eaten enough. CBD has been shown to suppress a ravenous appetite by increasing hypothalamus sensitivity to external factors .
If the hypothalamus believes we have enough energy stores to maintain metabolic processes, it won’t send signals that tell us to eat. Some people who strongly believe in CBD for weight loss say that the key to curbing unnecessary cravings is improving the hypothalamus’ signaling abilities.
2. CBD May Boost Mitochondrial Function
The mitochondria are the “powerhouse of the cells.” It’s the main source of ATP production — the energy our cells require to perform every function.
CBD has been shown to directly impact mitochondria that regulate calcium levels in the blood, needed for ATP synthesis . Boosting mitochondrial function makes it more efficient at transforming the fat and sugars we eat into energy for our cells. The theory is that if we’re more efficient at using the energy we consume, our cravings are reduced.
It’s important to remember that there’s not enough evidence to support that CBD makes a good appetite suppressant for significant weight loss on its own, either, so it’s best to err on the side of caution when shopping for CBD products that claim to help with weight loss goals.
CBD Isn’t The Best Appetite Stimulant, But Here Are 3 Cannabinoids That Are
CBD is unreliable as a way to boost your appetite. It inhibits appetite in some and increases appetite in others — but only under very specific conditions.
Here are three other cannabinoids that offer much more utility as an appetite stimulant than CBD.
1. Delta 9 THC
Delta 9 THC is the most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana plants. It has a high affinity to bind to CB1 receptors in the central nervous system to alter our senses, perception of time and induce a euphoric mood.
THC’s interaction with the CB1 receptors lights up the same complex area in the brain that regulates our feelings of hunger and energy balance by promoting the release of the hormone ghrelin — a.k.a the hunger hormone .
Additionally, the elevated mood and responsiveness to light, scent, and sound can increase food appeal, enhancing flavor. Enhanced perception of food can make us want to eat when we otherwise didn’t have an appetite, to begin with.
2. Delta 8 THC
There are many variations of THC. Delta 9 is the most abundant, and delta 8 THC is a close second.
Delta 8 THC also has stimulating effects on the CB1 receptors in the brain that elicit intoxication and increased appetite, though not as strongly as delta 9 THC does.
Many people report that the effects of delta 8 are much more subdued and calm than the marijuana high, which is why people enjoy using it for a more focused, productive high.
Since delta 8 and delta 9 are both the same cannabinoid but different isomers, it’s understandable that they would have a very similar effect profile. Interestingly, delta 8 THC is considered legal, while delta 9 is not.
This is because of the interpretation of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized the production and sale of industrial hemp crops and their derivatives, including delta 8.
There is no mention of delta 8 THC’s specific legal status in this Farm Bill, so it lives in a legal grey area. It’s considered technically legal as long as it’s harvested from Farm Bill-compliant hemp crops. Some states have regulations on THC, and it can be illegal depending on which state you live in.
CBG stands for cannabigerol. It’s known as the “parent cannabinoid” because it’s the precursor to CBD and THC.
CBG has also been shown to stimulate the appetite. In preclinical studies, CBG is safe and well-tolerated for increasing appetites in a group of mice .
CBG and THC both have an affinity to bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors that may help to regulate the hormones which alter our mood, appetite, and perception of pain. However, CBG isn’t known to stimulate the CB1 receptors in the brain as effectively as THC does, which is why CBG is considered non-psychotropic.
Some studies have found that CBG blocks some of the psychotropic effects of THC by competing for the same receptors., making CBG a more appropriate compound to increase the appetite without any mind-altering effects.
The Takeaway: Can CBD Make You Hungry?
CBD is an interesting compound because reports of its use can vary significantly from one person to the next while still being well-tolerated and safe.
When looking for evidence that CBD can increase appetite, there’s very little we can definitively pull away.
CBD can interact with mitochondrial function, support our stress response, and inflammation to indirectly affect our energy metabolism and perhaps influence our eating behavior. However, CBD is not as effective at increasing appetite as THC and CBG.
THC isn’t for everyone because of its potent psychotropic effects and illegal status in the United States. However, a legal, more subtle version of THC, delta 8 THC, seems like a promising cannabinoid that people can turn to for appetite stimulation.
Because delta 8 is an isomer of the THC we know and love, the psychoactive effects of delta 8 may still be too much for most. In which case, CBG extract could be your best bet for appetite stimulation. It activates the same receptors as THC to boost mood and stimulate the brain’s food control centers with ghrelin release without the high.
Does CBD Increase Your Appetite?
Cannabis has always been associated with appetite stimulation, mostly due to marijuana’s ability to create munchies.
The munchies are an inseparable element of a euphoric sensation known as a “high.”
This simply means that food and drinks are a lot more enjoyable, which may lead to overeating.
The main trigger for munchies is THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana.
But what about hemp and CBD?
Is CBD an appetite stimulant too?
The answer is more complex than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’
Before we delve deeper into the effects of CBD on appetite, let’s focus on how appetite and hunger work.
How Appetite & Hunger Work
Elevated appetite is the sign of hunger, and hunger is one of the most basic survival instincts. Your brain is in charge of controlling appetite, informing the body when it should eat and what we should put in our stomachs.
For example, if you have a strong desire for a specific meal, it means that the body may be lacking an important nutrient found in that type of food.
Although appetite and hunger mean similar things, they’re not the same.
While hunger occurs usually when we crave food for survival, the appetite may not be associated solely with our nutritional needs.
What we eat, the way we eat, and how much we eat affects hormonal balance in the brain, influencing our appetite.
Certain chemicals circulate in the brain and act on neurotransmitters to signal us when we’re hungry and what we want to eat.
These substances are known as hormones. The hormone responsible for hunger is called Ghrelin.
Appetite is also modulated outside of the hormonal side. For example, mood, emotions, and sentiments all affect whether or not we want to eat, as well as the kind of foods we crave.
For instance, eating comfort food too often is associated with sadness or an underlying mental health condition. Anxiety and stress, on the other hand, can make it difficult to eat and digest.
Environmental factors, such as to scents, sounds, and pictures, can influence appetite as well.
People who live a happy life usually have a healthy appetite, but those suffering from eating disorders or hormonal imbalances may experience fluctuation of appetite.
Why Is Appetite Stimulation Important?
The human body needs nutrition in order to survive and grow. There are three dietary categories of nutrients — proteins, fats, and carbohydrates — but you also need important vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.
A lack of any of these compounds can have negative consequences for your physical and mental health.
A healthy appetite means that a person consumes and absorbs all three nutrient categories as well as other beneficial substances for general well-being.
Although CBD won’t give you the munchies, it can help you achieve a healthy appetite through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
However, before we elaborate on CBD being an appetite stimulant, let’s focus on lifestyle activities that can help you achieve the same effect.
Lifestyle Modifications for Appetite Stimulation
- Working out regularly can stimulate appetite due to the fact that it increases your energy consumption.
- Consider eating in cozy, comfortable conditions, or sharing a meal with friends during your favorite TV show. If you’re having a good time during your dinner, you may eat more.
- Diversify your meal plan by adding a variety of your favorite foods. You can keep a meal journal to make sure that monotony never enters your diet.
- Eat 2–3 meals a day instead of 5 smaller meals. Eating too frequently can trigger insulin resistance, making you feel constantly unsatiated and leading to weight gain.
- Consider adding meals in the liquid form, including smoothies, protein shakes, and juices. Depending on the type of nutrients you need, you can mix different ingredients to create a superfood cocktail. Just make sure you’re consuming nutrient-dense ingredients rather than empty calories from commercial beverages.
Is CBD an Appetite Stimulant?
CBD can act as a mild appetite suppressant or stimulant depending on your individual health needs. That’s because CBD exerts adaptogenic properties, meaning it can optimize the biological functions of your body without any negative structural changes.
We’ll elaborate on these properties in the next few sections, but first, let’s make sure you understand the different effects of CBD vs THC on the brain.
CBD vs THC
THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana plants. This cannabinoid is responsible for producing the euphoric sensation of being high. THC also stimulates the production of ghrelin, which — as mentioned earlier — is the hormone responsible for making you hungry.
This, in turn, triggers a popular effect known as the munchies. Moreover, THC makes you more reactive to scents, and since the nasal tract and palate are interconnected, this change in perception can elevate your appetite even more.
THC also affects the area of the brain where the majority of CB1 receptors are located. When THC binds to the CB1 receptor, it results in a surge of dopamine.
Dopamine is the “feel good” chemical; increased concentration of this neurotransmitter allows us to draw more pleasure out of eating, making the process more rewarding.
Although CBD shares similar health benefits with THC, it’s also very different in certain aspects. This includes its influence on appetite.
CBD doesn’t bind to the CB1 receptor, so it won’t trigger the munchies. In addition, CBD can block the binding site of this receptor, weakening its interaction with THC.
In simple words, when you take THC alongside CBD, the appetite stimulation may not be as pronounced as if you took a high-THC marijuana strain alone.
CBD uses different mechanisms to engage with the ECS. Here are the most common effects on both types of cannabinoid receptors.
Effects of CBD on CB1 Receptors
Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t have a direct affinity with the CB1 receptor. However, it can indirectly enhance its functioning in the following ways:
- CBD may signal the ECS to produce more anandamide, which is a naturally produced endocannabinoid. Anandamide has a similar molecular structure to THC, and as such, it can bind to CB1 receptors in the brain — leading to an increase in appetite.
- CBD can boost dopamine production by reducing stress and optimizing the activity of GABA and 5-HTA receptors. Higher levels of dopamine are associated with greater pleasure from eating.
- CBD may regulate mood and appetite by acting on serotonin receptors. Mood and appetite are closely linked with each other; anxiety and sadness may cause a loss of appetite or an increase in the need for comfort foods. A balanced mood helps your body achieve a healthy appetite.
Effects of CBD on CB2 Receptors
CB2 receptors are another important constituent of the ECS. They are frequently linked to the immune system, which makes them responsible for overall health and well-being. Most of these receptors are located throughout the gastrointestinal tract and take part in every important step from feeding to digestion, including:
- Regulation of saliva production
- Stomach acid release
- The peristalsis of the gut
- The absorption of vitamins and minerals, as well as important dietary categories (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates)
Other Ways CBD May Act As An Appetite Stimulant
Since CBD acts on both the brain and the digestive system, there are plenty of other ways this cannabinoid can act as an appetite stimulant:
- CBD has the ability to boost mood and reduce anxiety. Positive emotions and sentiments, as well as elevated mood, may promote hunger.
- CBD can help minimize bloating and indigestion symptoms, such as acid reflux and constipation — improving appetite as a result.
- By aiding digestive health, when CBD is added to food, it allows the meal to be broken down more quickly and efficiently, stimulating hunger for the next mealtime.
How to Use CBD Oil to Support a Healthy Appetite
Studies on CBD and appetite are in an early stage. What we do know about CBD as a potential appetite stimulant comes from the studies on its general properties.
That being said, the modulation of the ECS holds great potential for encouraging a healthy appetite while supporting your body’s homeostasis.
The problem is that many people consider CBD oil — as well as other dietary supplements — a magical pill that will do wonders for their appetite, leaving aside other important factors.
If you want to maintain a healthy appetite, consider adding the following habits to your CBD routine:
This comes as an obvious piece of advice, but staying active is one of the best methods to encourage a healthy appetite.
Exercising causes you to burn calories, and taking CBD oil for weight loss can be a great help for losing weight. But on top of that, burning more energy leaves you some room for indulgence in sweet treats and other types of comfort foods. Although it’s essential to develop a responsible approach to eating, and the majority of your diet should be nutrient-dense, it’s also important to feed the soul from time to time.
And if you struggle to eat regularly, working out may help with that too. Regular workout sessions release endorphins that make us feel happy and trigger the need to refuel the body.
Take Omega Fatty Acids
Omega fatty acids have a myriad of benefits, one of which appears to be a positive effect on weight loss.
Just keep in mind to keep the correct ratios between omega-3 and omega-6 acids. The omega-3s are anti-inflammatory compounds, while omega-6s are known to cause inflammation. Therefore, you should always consume more omega-3s than omega-6s.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in beef, fish, nuts, and hemp seed oil.
Establish a Schedule
Humans like to have habits, but with busy work and the rapid pace of social life, eating is usually the first activity that we neglect.
However, in our pursuit of career, money, and happiness, we often forget that eating is the cornerstone of our survival.
When we develop poor eating habits and continue to stick to them for months, or even years, it can take a serious toll on our appetite and overall health.
Establishing the right habits is the first thing you should do if you struggle with poor appetite. CBD as an appetite stimulant may help, but it won’t solve your problems alone.
Summarizing the Effects of CBD on Appetite
The effects of CBD on appetite are complex and yet to be fully understood. Considering the multifaceted mechanism CBD uses to interact with the ECS, it can act either as an appetite stimulant or mild appetite suppressant.
CBD has adaptogenic properties, meaning it will prioritize the areas of your health that need the most improvements.
While CBD oil may affect appetite differently in different people, adding it to a healthy diet and active lifestyle adds a solid building block to achieving a healthy appetite.
What effect does CBD have on your appetite? Does it act as a stimulant or suppressant? Share your stories in the comments below!
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.