The Effects of Smoked Marijuana on Metabolism

The Effects of Smoked Marijuana on Metabolism

The Effects of Smoked Marijuana on Metabolism


Marijuana is a sedative, and most sedatives are respiratory depressants. However, the ventilatory effects of marijuana are unknown. In a placebo-controlled study of 8 subjects, smoking marijuana significantly increased ventilation and hypercapnic ventilatory response. Peak effects occurred 15 min after smoking, when ventilation increased from 7.4 +/- 0.39 (mean +/- SE) to 10.4 +/- 1.41 liter per min (P less than 0.01), whereas hypercapnic ventilatory response, measured as the slope of the relationship of ventilation to CO2, increased from 2.7 +/- 0.28 to 5.4 +/- 1.02 liter per min per mm Hg (P less than 0.05). Blood pH, PCO2, and ventilatory response to hypoxia were unchanged. Changes in ventilation usually parallel changes in metabolic rate. Smoked marijuana caused an increase in metabolic rate that also peaked after 15 min. Pretreatment with propranolol completely abolished the increase in hypercapnic ventilatory response, but did not affect the other changes. Thus, smoked marijuana had stimulatory effects on metabolic rate, ventilation, and the ventilatory response to CO2. The latter appears to be mediated by the beta sympathetic nervous system.

Cannabis For Weight Loss Can Really Work

The Effects of Smoked Marijuana on Metabolism

Photograph courtesy of Unsplash

Here’s a surprising fact: You won’t always get the munchies if you consume cannabis. Yes, they exist but not every user becomes a ravenous junk food obsessive who will go through dramatic journeys to satisfy high-induced cravings. In fact, the plant has actually helped some people lose weight. It sounds counterintuitive but there’s scientific and anecdotal data to back it up. Curious? Here’s everything you need to know.

What Science Says

Back in 2011, results from two national surveys found “that despite the evidence that cannabis [consumption] stimulates appetite in clinical trials and laboratory studies, users are actually less likely to be obese than nonusers.” That surprising fact was confirmed in a longer, three-year study published in 2019. But why does that happen? A 2018 study theorizes that you’re actually storing less fat and burning more calories in the long run when you regularly use cannabis. While you might be eating more, your metabolism is also getting a boost.

But It’s Not Just Metabolism

It’s not simply a matter of your body breaking down what you’re eating faster. According to Joseph J. Sabia, a professor at the University of San Diego, people who use cannabis usually also drink less, which means their overall caloric intake is lower. Plus, the plant reduces stress levels, aids in better, more restful sleep, and relieves bodily pain. These are all things that have been known to help with weight loss. You not only feel better, you’re also going to have the extra energy to start and stick to an exercise plan.

So, What Strains Are Best?

Certified personal trainer Jessica Gerlock lost over 100 pounds while smoking and found that sativa strains were the best for focus and energy. She used cannabis to help moderate her eating, before workouts for a boost, and after hard exercise, as a recovery tool. If you’re interested, popular ones include Girl Scout CookiesGreen Crack, and Super Sour Diesel. And while you may already be familiar with cannabinoids like THC and CBD, get to know to THCV — it shows promise when it comes to controlling your appetite. You’ll find it in Durban PoisonGirl Scout Cookies, and Level Blends Stimulate THCV tablinguals.

The Effects of Smoked Marijuana on Metabolism

Your new year’s resolution for 2020 was to lose weight. And this time, you really are committed to making it happen. But here’s the dilemma: When trying to drop the pounds, do you stop using pot because it gives you the munchies or do you increase your intake because, for some, it acts as an appetite suppressant? “It depends,” according to Dr. Jon Davis, Ph.D., assistant professor at Washington State University’s Department of Integrative Physiology & Neuroscience. “(Cannabis’ potential to act as an appetite suppressant) hasn’t been well studied at all. There’s not enough information to make a statement one way or the other on it,” said Davis, who specializes in feeding and drug addiction at WSU’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program. What Davis does know is that a lot depends on you when it comes to marijuana and its effect on body mass. Your metabolism, health, age, sex, the strain of cannabis you use, how much sleep you get, and other factors all play in to whether marijuana contributes to your personal weight loss or gain. Davis cites a 2014 study, published in the journal Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, that looked at two subject groups who used marijuana: the general population and those with disease-based anorexia. The low-weight group gained weight while the general population group did not. This may leave you curious if there’s any truth to the old “case of the munchies” stereotype. Davis acknowledges that marijuana affects the mechanisms that trigger hunger in our brain and can definitely cause you to raid the pantry. He says the munchies are a delayed effect of cannabis, though. “One thing we’ve noticed in our lab is when you give cannabis to an animal, it doesn’t immediately go over and start eating. It’s not until about an hour later that they get hungry and then that only lasts two or three hours, so it’s a delayed effect.” Two of the main effects of marijuana use are euphoria and appetite stimulation. Davis believes euphoria initially overpowers the body’s hunger response. But once the euphoria starts to wear off, users notice that they are hungry. Only lasting a couple hours usually at most, that hunger may not initiate a large enough calorie intake to make a lasting impact on body weight. But for chronic users of marijuana, wouldn’t that pattern repeated over and over again eventually result in weight gain? Davis says cannabis use can be like alcohol use – people who drink regularly are affected differently than those who drink rarely or occasionally. “It’s been shown that people who use cannabis regularly have reduced receptors for cannabinoids, so a tolerance develops.” Cannabinoids are compounds found in the marijuana plant; THC and CBD being the best known. So if you’re a regular consumer, you may no longer get the munchies, or to the same degree, that new or occasional users do. While that could be good news for the waistlines of pot lovers, continued use of weed still may not be great for your health. “It definitely can impact blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyclerides (a kind of fat found in the blood stream),” said Davis. “A nerve called the vagus nerve controls heart rate. Stimulation of that nerve (such as with marijuana use) increases blood pressure.” While cannabis use may not make you gain weight, can it help you lose weight? Another question with an unclear answer. Some growers are now marketing marijuana strains specifically for weight loss, usually those with tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), a lesser known cannabinoid. While THC is known for stimulating appetite and is responsible for the munchies, THCV is believed to act as an appetite suppressant. CBD is believed to have a similar effect, only without the euphoria that comes with strains that contain THC. Again, though, Davis stresses that there isn’t enough knowledge at this time on how effective either THCV or CBD are as weight loss proponents. With cannabis still illegal at the federal level, few studies have been completed, due to a lack of both funding and time. “You have to have a Schedule 1 license to have the plant and that takes 18 months. We’re built off publication and don’t have the luxury of that kind of time,” said Davis. He also says that is beginning to change and WSU is one of the only labs in the world that has looked at marijuana use in conjunction with feeding. “But we still need time to understand the physiological and plant-based mechanism.”

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