Potential Correlation between Cannabis Consumption and Reduced Body Weight Shown in Mice, According to Research

Potential Correlation between Cannabis Consumption and Reduced Body Weight Shown in Mice, According to Research

A recent study published in the journal Cell Metabolism suggests that frequent cannabis consumers may have a lower body mass index (BMI) than non-consumers. While the “munchies” can induce appetite short-term, the overall effects of frequent cannabis use appear to suggest something bigger is at play. However, the study was conducted on mouse models due to legal restrictions in the US, so further research is required to determine whether these results translate to humans.

Researchers observed adolescent male and female mice that were treated once daily with a dose of THC (5 mg/kg). They found that THC-exposed mice of both sexes gained significantly less weight than control mice did. The researchers ruled out nearly every other conceivable factor: Subsequent analyses, focusing on males, showed that this effect could not be attributed to changes in growth rate, head length, tail length, femur length and weight, locomotor activity, food intake, or nutrient absorption.

While the study showed a lower BMI in frequent consumers, researchers also noted that they observed changes in metabolism that could present several unknowns, especially in teens with bodies that are still developing. The cells of mice treated with THC looked normal at the microscope but produced large amounts of muscle proteins in fat. (They’re not supposed to be there.) Muscle, on the other hand, was observed with fewer of those same proteins. Though still far too early to be confirmed, researchers guessed that these “alien” proteins could interfere with the function of fat cells and their ability to store and release nutrients. They guessed these changes could impact mental processes such as attention.

The study suggests that if we only think of cannabis as psychoactive we’re being one-dimensional. Its effects extend well beyond the brain. Its main constituent, THC, mimics a group of chemical messengers called endocannabinoids which regulate important functions throughout the body. The results show that interfering with endocannabinoid signaling during adolescence disrupts adipose organ function in a permanent way, with potentially far-reaching consequences on physical and mental health.

The evidence to suggest smokers are leaner was always there, and the data is plentiful. Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have consistently reported lower BMI in healthy cannabis users compared with non-users, as well as inverse associations of cannabis use with BMI, waist circumference, and other cardiometabolic risk factors. In 2017, a longitudinal study from researchers in Denmark destroyed the long-standing myth that smoking weed causes weight gain.

However, it should be noted that while cannabis may have some impact on weight loss, it is not a miracle cure. It is important for individuals to maintain a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise and not rely solely on cannabis consumption to lose weight. The study is also limited to animal models, so more research is required before concrete conclusions can be drawn.

Dr. Paul Miller, MD

Dr. Miller is committed to finding new and innovative ways to help his patients manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. He has a particular interest in the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis and is passionate about educating both his colleagues and patients on its safe and effective use. He is also committed to continuing his education and staying up-to-date on the latest advances in neurology and cannabis research.

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