Cannabis and Your Diet

Cannabis and Your Diet – Pros and Cons

It is probable that you’ve heard actively or in passing someone who’s struggling with their appetite being advised to visit their nearest dispensary and indulge in some cannabis as that is certain to get the stomach rumbling for some food. The word that’s normally used is munchies. You may have wondered if the hunger pangs that result after cannabis use are actually correlated to it or if it might just be a reoccurring coincidence that many people seem to experience. Today we dive deep into the effects of cannabis on your diet. If you’re not in the mood to eat should it be considered a viable option, a possible solution to your condition or are the after effects of using it so significant that it’s deemed not worth you getting yourself entangled with it.

Cannabis is a complex plant with more than 400 chemical compounds occurring within it. We will however focus on two major active ingredients, and these are CBD and THC. We will dissect the effects of these two compounds separately. We understand that there are products that contain full spectrum CBD, in essence, what it means is that they contain CBD, a host of cannabinoids, terpenes and THC in them, while those that are indicated as broad spectrum and CBD isolate have CBD and a host of other cannabinoids but do not actually include THC. At the end of this article, we hope that you’ll be fully informed in a way that you’ll be able to decide whether you need to do away with THC or introduce it into your regimen. If you’re indulging in cannabis, then you know that you’ll always encounter CBD. It seems only right that we should start off with understanding how it interacts with our body with regards to diet.

How CBD Impacts your Diet

The general belief amongst people is that when you indulge in cannabis, you’ll experience the psychoactive effects and suddenly feel the urge to eat. Today seems like an ideal day to debunk that myth with regard to CBD. CBD is one of the major occurring elements in cannabis, it does not cause a high and more likely than not, it is more associated with weight loss than weight gain. But wait, there’s more, it does to an extent assist with increasing appetite in a very subtle way. So how does it work?

Scientific research suggests that CBD aids in weight loss in a host by boosting metabolism which inadvertently reduces food intake. When ingested, CBD works by indirectly interacting with CB1 and CB2 receptors in your body which influences the endocannabinoid system that works to regulate the body’s immune, nervous and digestive systems.

Let’s get into the science of it all. Within the endocannabinoid system, there are signaling molecules that initiate and end the processes so as to achieve that regulatory functionality. They are called endocannabinoids and the two key ones are anandamide abbreviated as AEA and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, abbreviated as 2-AG. In essence these molecules are produced as and when needed by the body and when their work is complete, there are enzymes that are produced to break them down to maintain the neutral state that has been achieved. Just as there are two main endocannabinoids, there are also two main enzymes dedicated for the purpose of their elimination. Fatty acid amide hydrolase is used to break down AEA and monoacylglycerol acid lipase breaks down 2-AG.

It then begs the question of how CBD influences the process. CBD comes in, to block the breakdown of the endocannabinoids by the enzymes temporarily so that the molecule can continue with its function. Let’s look at some practical examples of how this is realized.

CB1 receptors are densely located within the brain region. They affect the energy producing function of neural cells when they are activated. This causes an increase in appetite and preservation of energy within the cells. It leads to a go slow resulting in the production of white adipose tissues which are synonymous with most chronic conditions that are known to affect people. When CBD is introduced, it works to restore the proper functionality of the ECS system by controlling the influence of 2-AG on the CB1 receptor. 2-AG promotes the thermogenic function that converts the white fat cells that had been created into brown fat cells. When this occurs, there is a general burning of calories because brown fat is responsible for generating heat. The result is the achievement of healthy weight in individuals. This is evidence that CBD is particularly helpful in aiding weight loss in individuals who may be experiencing a difficult time achieving healthy weight.

In a subtly indirect manner, CBD has also been credited to help in weight gain with the assistance of AEA. We all know that it is especially difficult to be in the mood to eat when you’re experiencing feelings of restlessness or pain. Your primary focus will be diverted to solving the most urgent need and then maybe later you may decide to eat. The introduction of CBD into your diet leads to an unintended outcome that positively impacts on your desire to eat.  The function of AEA in your body is to make you feel happy, and to help you achieve mental wellness. CBD halts the breakdown of AEA by its corresponding enzyme, fatty acid amide hydrolase, and in this way the molecule AEA stays in your body for longer, helping you to achieve a state of relaxation and calmness which inevitably promotes activities such as eating. Even though this particular result seems to be indirectly achieved it is a valid conclusion and shows just the ways that your diet would be impacted if CBD was included in it.

How THC Impacts your diet

Unlike CBD, THC binds directly to CB1 and CB2 receptors and because of this, it has powerful responses from your body. We have already examined the effects of the stimulation of CB1 receptors and have established that it leads to the need to preserve and store energy as well as an increased appetite. When THC is introduced, these are the areas of the body where all sensations related to eating are activated:

1.       The basal nucleus in your cerebral hemisphere gets heightened pleasure from eating. When you derive pleasure from an action, the corresponding response is that you would want to engage in more of that action. I believe this is what is referred to as the munchies.

2.       The limbic system which is credited with our behavioral and emotional responses has an amplified reaction to the palatability of the food that is consumed. Your senses in responding to the tastiness of the food are exponentially sharpened. The ability to experience such intensity in your dining experience makes it inevitable that you’d want to eat more and also want to do it often.

3.       The stomach and small intestine. It’s only right that we speak about the actual area in which digestion and absorption of food takes place. These two organs are charged with the responsibility of excreting a hormone known as ghrelin which is usually referred to as the hunger hormone. It is only secreted when there is a need to communicate to the brain that the person in question needs to get some food in their system. THC being an appetite inducing element does a number on these organs. As much as CB1 is mainly found in the brain, there are small amounts that are found in the rest of the body and some organs that contain it are the stomach and the small intestine. Having been activated and responding by creating an increase in appetite, it is expected that the stomach and small intestine will produce more ghrelin and signal need for food to the brain. The more the ghrelin, the bigger the appetite.

4.       The hypothalamus which is the area that the stomach and small intestine send signals to by producing ghrelin also contains CB1 receptors. THC becomes like a superpower that CB1 suddenly gets and makes it able to communicate more effectively and get the work done twice as fast.

Having explored how the two major occurring elements in cannabis react when incorporated into your diet, we’re left with the responsibility of looking into the good and the bad that would potentially be experienced by a person who decides to actively incorporate cannabis into their diet.

The Pros of having Cannabis in your diet

High in fiber and vitamins

Cannabis is high in fiber. We are all aware of the importance of having fiber in our diets as it significantly boosts digestive health and a healthy gut ensures that the entire body stays in its best form. When consumed in its natural state, it contains an impressive composition of vitamins that are guaranteed to supercharge your body. When we speak of vitamins, it provides Vitamin K, vital for aiding in blood clotting, Calcium, indispensable for the achievement of strong bones, Vitamin C, crucial for the proper functioning of our immune systems amongst many other Vitamins.

Rich in antioxidants

If there’s a benefit that cannabis should be lauded for, is its decomposition of free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals create a myriad of health issues within our body because they react with other molecules and end up causing irreparable tissue damage. Cannabis being rich in antioxidants inhibits the process of oxidation that occurs when free radicals merge with other molecules thereby preventing formation of radicals that cause harm. This is probably the reason why topicals that have cannabis work so well in achieving anti-aging benefits.

Helps with pain relief

We briefly mentioned the indirect benefits that are gained diet wise when CBD helps to stop the breakdown of AEA (Anandamide) helping a person experience the feelings of happiness and a relaxed state of mind for a longer period. I think anybody would happily include a component that helps them release tension, relax, alleviate pain and inadvertently induce an appetite. It’s really like killing two birds with one stone. An appetizer that works to get you in your best state of mind, I’d definitely consider getting it.

It is an anti-inflammatory

We experience inflammation by accomplishing ordinary daily activities. Knowing that you have an ingredient in your diet that works not only to replenish your body but also to help in its recovery is an absolute relief. You get a chance to heal your body from aches and pains by simply eating right.

There can’t be good without bad, at least not in real life. Below are some of the cons that may be experienced when incorporating cannabis into your diet.

The Cons of having Cannabis in your diet

It can get you ‘high’

The THC in cannabis is not to be taken lightly. It definitely leaves you anything but sober. This translates to being mindful of the places in which you’ll be when indulging in a meal rich in cannabis. The results could be disastrous if taken at the wrong place, for example when operating heavy machinery or a car. It is best that you are confined within closed places in the comfort of people that you know and trust.

It can make you sleepy

Feelings of drowsiness are common afterwards. This is not a meal that you take at work during lunch break and then clock in back into work in the afternoon, not unless you’re the boss. It is best if these meals are saved for the weekend where you can sleep as often and as much as you’d like to.

It can cause a feeling of dry mouth

It is said that THC has the ability to bind to receptors on your salivary glands leading to a significant reduction in the amount of saliva produced. This can be an alarming feeling if you had no expectations of such a reaction in your body. Different things react differently for different people, but it is always important to be aware of potential side effects.

From now on, when you’re scrolling through catalogs of dispensaries near me and you see a variety of ingestible products that have a version of cannabis in them, you’re now aware that their availability is informed by scientific research and not just a marketing fad.

By Michael Caine

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