Metabolism: It’s not just that thing that your Nana said you were lucky to still have. Its real, you are lucky to have it and it’s affected by everything you put in your body, which includes that delightful leafy green friend we all know and love.
As a generality, the word metabolism is often associated with the place to lay blame for carrying a few extra pounds or, not being able to put them on. In actuality, your metabolism refers to all of the chemical and organic processes in the body (like digesting food) that continue to sustain life. Really, your body’s ability to metabolize is what keeps you alive – so try to be grateful.
Essentially, every time you eat or drink, your body produces different kinds of enzymes that break down food into vitamins, minerals, fats, and sugars that are then sent around the body to keep your heart beating, your lungs breathing and your brain thinking. The faster it works, the faster you burn through the calories, fat and nutrients ingested — lending to the cute catch phase “I just have a fast metabolism.”
Curious about what happens when you metabolize cannabis?
If you’re ingesting it through a fat source, like let’s say, canna butter baked in the form of a special brownie or cookie, then your body has to first break down the butter in your stomach with digestive acids and enzymes before it passes through to the blood which then travels to the liver. If you are using inhalation methods, the cannabis is absorbed through the lungs into the blood stream and then passed to the liver. Once in the liver your body breaks down the cannabinoids into different molecules, which then travel to the heart and are pumped to the brain, lungs and other organs, binding to endocannabinoid receptors along the way.
Your endocannabinoid CB1 receptors are activated by THC after it travels through the blood into the brain crossing what’s called ‘the blood-brain-barrier.’ This is what gets you ‘high’ if that’s your thing, and what will also have an affect on your central nervous system and its functions. CB2 receptors are activated by CBD and affect the soft tissue organs in the body, like your heart, stomach and liver, and will also impact your white blood cells helping to fight disease.
Your body circulates blood through your system nearly every 45 seconds, each time carrying the cannabinoids back to the liver, metabolizing a little more and a little more each time. It takes in excess of 12 full hours for your body to have metabolized cannabinoids to undetectable levels – which is also known as total sobriety, friends.
So what’s good? According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Medicine, regular cannabis users are 54% less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome, a condition caused by high blood sugar and a sedentary lifestyle, and is an early indictor for things like Type 2 diabetes and stroke. On average, regular users continue to have lower blood sugar levels, lower levels of HDL or high density lipoproteins (the shady cholesterol that contributes to heart disease) and in turn, lower incidence of heart disease as well.
The endocannabinoid system doesn’t just affect how your organs function, it also impacts things like movement, emotions, pleasure centres, hormones and the firing of neurotransmitters in your brain. Typically, when you’re hungry, your ECS produces and releases a neurotransmitter called anandamide, which triggers your CB1 receptors and signals hunger. When you consume plant-based THC, your CB1 receptors are triggered the same way, your brain releases anandamide, and BOOM, it creates that same ‘hunger.’
This is why weed makes you hungry and this is why you catch those little devils ‘the munchies.’ You know the ones — they have you scarfing chippies and dip on your couch while watching Harry Potter for the 15th time *ahem* (yup, we’ve all been there). The munchies happen to good, decent people all the time and it’s no mistake. As your CB1 receptors are activated, the production of anandamide creates a sort of insatiable hunger, leading to the craving of sugary, salty, fatty foods. Interestingly enough, in a study conducted by the National Centre for Translational Sciences found that patients suffering from metabolic disease had consistently overstimulated endocannabinoid system and CB1 receptors.
Not only does THC stimulate your hunger receptors, it also stimulates hormone production, including one called ghrelin, which is a potent appetite stimulator. Po-tent. Conveniently this hormone’s dual function is that it also aids in the metabolization of carbohydrates, the thing your body breaks down immediately and stores as glucose or fat. This little guy has its work cut out for it as well because on average, cannabis consumers are said to ingest about 600 calories more a day than the average person. Or not so average these days, I suppose.
Luckily, we’ve always got CBD to come to the rescue. The Yin to the Yang — CBD is actually an appetite suppressant and turns these hunger receptors off. A study in 2010 by Elsevier, published by Science Direct, found that adult rats who were consistently dosed with CBD oil had a lower total body weight over time. A study in 2012 also found that consistent doses of CBD oil lowered the amount of fat build up around the arteries from high blood sugar – AKA preventing heart disease.
Although Eastern medicine and plant therapy is a relatively new concept to North America, it’s actually the oldest form of medicine on the planet and has always included cannabis in its remedies. With medical legalization, using cannabis in traditional ways to treat disease has become a well-known, well-explored practice at the tipping point of infinite possibilities. Although we are looking forward to the future in cannabis medicine, it’s undetermined what kind of impact this lovely little plant will truly have as of yet.
The potential of using CBD oil in the practice of health care and preventative medicine could include using CBD oil for weight loss, which will in turn help the body to redistribute insulin, fat and hormones throughout the body, which could help to prevent things like Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome. Hallelujah for health care!
So, the long of the short of it is we don’t know much about weed and weight, but we will. What we do know for sure is that your marijuana consumption isn’t going to affect your metabolism —just be careful with those chippies or it WILL affect your waistline.