Metabolic Syndrome and Cannabinoids
So, what exactly is metabolic syndrome? According to The American Heart Association, “it’s a serious health condition that affects about 23 percent of adults and places them at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and diseases related to fatty buildups in artery walls.” With approximately 252,063,800 individuals over the age of 18 that live in the U.S., almost 58 million suffer from metabolic syndrome. Weirdly enough, cannabis may just save these millions. People who consume marijuana take in 600 more calories per day than the average non-smoker. For some reason, the extra calories consumed do not convert to fat. What is the science behind this? Recent research raises some questions about the relationship between cannabinoids, metabolism and stomach fat.
Industrial Hemp and Metabolic Syndrome
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Miami discovered that regular users of marijuana were less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome by 54 percent, compared to those who did not use marijuana.
Metabolic syndrome, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a term that describes a series of re-occurring health disorders. These conditions include:
- Excess fat on the waist or stomach region
- Excessively high or low cholesterol levels
At least 8,500 subjects were involved in the study conducted by the University of Miami. Data was sourced from the National Health and Nutrition Surveys. The age range of the participants was between 20 and 59 years. The study revealed that cannabis users had:
- reduced blood sugar levels.
- reduced chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
- less abdominal fat compared to non-users.
- lower levels of bad cholesterol.
These findings are at par with other research on marijuana and metabolism. Studies conducted between 2013 and 2014 show that people who smoke cannabis regularly have lower body mass index and waistlines up to 1.5 inches smaller than non-users. Researchers are struggling to understand just how industrial hemp can help achieve this in a generation struggling with an obesity epidemic.
To fully understand the effect of cannabinoids on metabolic syndrome, it is helpful to know about the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is a network of cell receptors in the body and the brain. These receptors are referred to as cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoid receptors receive signals from chemicals produced naturally by the body – endocannabinoids.
The ECS links regions of the brain that regulate emotion, movement, production of hormones, and pleasure. It is the responsibility of the ECS to coordinate signals between these regions of the brain and the corresponding parts of the body. This complex chemical network is the main reason why we feel pleasure during exercise or sex, and also experience different moods.
Research has shown that the active components of industrial hemp may be responsible for preventing weight gain and metabolic syndrome.
The ECS regulates inflammation, food intake, and metabolism. However, its role in obesity is not fully understood, but some interconnections have been uncovered. Intake of industrial hemp-derived cannabinoids activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. The CB1 receptors play a role in getting people high and are equally located in the gastrointestinal tract, the heart, fat cells, and the adrenal gland. The CB2 receptor is present in the immune tissue and blood cells and may be linked to cannabis’ action against autoimmune disorders.
Cannabidiol (CBD), a phytocannabinoid, plays a role in the suppression of appetite. It is a paradox that when one consumes cannabis, one is actually taking in two substances that contradict the action of each other. While tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) increases the appetite by stimulating the CB1 receptors, CBD deactivates these receptors. Industrial hemp (a kind of cannabis) contains only .3 percent or less THC, which means that any cannabinoid from hemp cannot get you high.
Researchers at the School of Pharmacy, Berkshire University of Reading, treated rats of the male gender with three different cannabinoids, to investigate the action of each on the rodent’s appetites. The three cannabinoids tested were:
Results from the test showed that CBN increased the rodent’s appetite while CBG had absolutely no effect on the appetite. However, CBD exerted tremendous effects. The rats ate, no doubt, but food intake was less all through the test period.
A 2011 study has also shown that CBD prevented damage to the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Another study, carried out in 2010 showed that CBD decreased the weight of adult rats.
These studies have made CBD a possible medication for obesity, diabetes and other metabolic illnesses.
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