It’s a well-established fact that marijuana causes users to experience acute hunger—a phenomenon known as the munchies. But curiously, research also has found that the average cannabis consumer actually has a slimmer waistline compared to non-users.
For a while, that stereotype-defying finding has left researchers scratching their heads. Thankfully, a new study out of Indiana University, which is pending publication, offers a compelling, theoretical explanation.
Before we get into the specifics of the study, some background: humans have endocannabinoid systems that are responsible for things like regulating sleep, appetite, stress and metabolism. Ingredients in marijuana like THC and other cannabinoids are known to stimulate receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which can produce a wide range of physiological effects.
OK, but how does this explain why cannabis users are generally slimmer than non-users?
Well, the researchers started with a simple observation. Western diets—exceptionally high in carbs and sugar—are associated with a series of chronic health conditions such as obesity. One commonality among people who suffer from these conditions is that they have a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the body.
There is “abundant evidence” that this increased ratio of omega fats causes overstimulation of a main cannabinoid receptor, which “leads to metabolic syndrome, contributing to chronic diseases,” the study authors wrote.
People who are able to reduce their level of this specific cannabinoid receptor (CB1R) often experience weight loss. There are different ways to achieve this effect, but one possibility identified in earlier research is the introduction of cannabis into the equation. Marijuana causes a downregulation of CB1R, a receptor that “plays a major role in assimilation, storage and conservation of energy.”
In layman’s terms, this means that while consuming cannabis certainly heightens hunger among users in the short-term, it also helps people properly manage that food after it’s entered the body. Even four months after you stop using cannabis, that effect is still present. Therefore, the researchers concluded, the impact of cannabis use on the CB1R receptor “more than offsets the short-term increase in energy stores that follow” a case of the munchies.
Again, however, this is a theoretical explanation based on existing research about the endocannabinoid system, marijuana and metabolism. As the researchers emphasized in their conclusion, the study raises many questions, including:
“How many other conditions respond in opposite directions during acute and long-term exposures to Cannabis? How does this paradox impact therapeutic uses of Cannabis? Do the long-term effects of Cannabis use arising from downregulation of CB1R exacerbate the underlying condition that drove patients to therapeutic use of Cannabis in the first place? For example, if a patient uses Cannabis for anxiety, will the resulting downregulation of CB1R result in increased anxiety between therapeutic doses? How does dosage influence this relationship? Is CB2R also downregulated during Cannabis use, and if so, what are the implications for treatment of CB2R-related conditions with Cannabis?”
For the time being, we’ll have to wait on those answers. But if you were perplexed by headlines and social media posts about marijuana consumer being skinner than their non-using counterparts, this study may well serve as an important piece of the puzzle.
Dogs Treated With Cannabis Oil Experience Less Frequent Seizures, Study Finds
Dogs with epilepsy experience considerably fewer seizures when treated with CBD oil, a new study published in the journal Pet Behaviour Science found.
The small study—which followed three dogs receiving hemp-derived CBD treatment over the course of two months, indicates that dogs respond to the cannabis compound in a way that’s similar to humans.
The dogs ranged in age and breed. One was a three-year-old Labrador Retriever that suffered seizures spaced out one month apart on average, another was an 11-year-old Papillon that experienced seizures every two to three months and the last was a 10-year-old Chihuahua that has infrequent seizures about twice a year.
For the experiment, each dog was treated with CBD twice a day on an empty stomach. The findings are based on reports from the owners, two out of three of whom said the treatment improved their dog’s condition. The Papillon’s owner said the dog’s condition was unchanged.
“The owner [of the Labrador Retriever] reported that the dog slept longer and barked less in the daytime, even when other dogs were excited, during the first two weeks than in the preceding weeks,” the study authors wrote. “Overall, the owner felt that the dog showed improvement.”
“The owner [of the Chihuahua] felt that seizure-like behavior during the attacks had decreased slightly with treatment,” they wrote. “The owner also reported that the dog showed less aggression toward familiar people, such as the owner’s children.”
While the sample size of the study is particularly small, making it difficult to draw broad conclusions, the researchers said “seizure frequency improved considerably and owners reported a positive impression” of the CBD treatment.
It’s not clear if the same biochemical mechanisms that make CBD an effective treatment for epilepsy in humans produced the effects in the dogs. It’s possible that, because seizures can be triggered by anxiety, the same “anxiolytic effect may attenuate the symptoms of epilepsy in dogs as well as humans.”
“Further research is needed for better understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of CBD treatment,” the researchers wrote.
Last year, a separate study determined that CBD can alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs.
Photo courtesy of Pexels.
Study Finds Marijuana Motivates People To Exercise, Smashing Lazy Stoner Stereotype
Most people who use marijuana report that consuming before or after exercising improves the experience and aids in recovery, according to a new study. And those who do use cannabis to elevate their workout tend to get a healthier amount of exercise.
Researchers at the University of Colorado surveyed more than 600 marijuana consumers in states where it is legal to assess how people use cannabis in relation to exercise. Their results, published this month in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, poke yet another hole in the lazy, couch-locked stoner stereotype.
Almost 500 participants said they endorse using marijuana one hour before, or up to four hours after, exercising. And based on data from the questionnaire, those who did use cannabis in that timeframe worked out longer than consumers who didn’t pair the activities. Specifically, those who engaged in co-use worked out an average of 43 minutes longer for aerobic exercise and 30 minutes longer for anaerobic exercise.
What’s behind the trend?
There are a few known barriers to exercise that researchers have identified: a lack of motivation, difficult recovery after working out and low enjoyment of the activity. Cannabis seems to help lift those barriers for some individuals.
Seventy percent of respondents said they agree or strongly agree that “cannabis increases enjoyment of exercise,” 78 percent said that marijuana “enhances recovery from exercise” and just over 50 percent said that it “increases motivation.”
“To our knowledge, this is the first study to survey attitudes and behavior regarding the use of cannabis before and after exercise, and to examine differences between cannabis users who engage in co-use, compared to those who do not,” the study authors wrote. “Given both the spreading legalization of cannabis and the low rates of physical activity in the US, it behooves public health officials to understand the potential effects—both beneficial and harmful—of cannabis use on exercise behaviors.”
While it might seem counterintuitive given how cannabis consumers have typically been portrayed in media, there’s a growing body of research showing that many marijuana enthusiasts engage in active lifestyles and that cannabis is associated with positive health outcomes. For example, another recent study found that people who use marijuana are less likely to be obese compared to non-users.
Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.
Another Federal Agency Wants You To Stop Calling About A Marijuana-Related Job
Six days after posting a notice that calls for a contractor to prepare and distribute research drug products like marijuana cigarettes, a federal agency posted an update, emphasizing that private citizens are not being encouraged to apply for a casual joint-rolling job.
Why? Well, it might have something to do with various viral articles reporting on the opening—and readers who then volunteer for the role.
On Monday, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) added an unambiguous message at the top of the notice: “THE FOLLOWING IS A PRE-SOLICITATION NOTICE and is NOT ADVERTISEMENT FOR EMPLOYMENT.”
The situation seems similar to another recent example that prompted the Houston division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to ask private citizens to stop calling about a contractor opening to incinerate thousands of pounds of cannabis per hour.
The division wrote last month that “misleading articles” about the position “resulted in an influx of calls from citizens.”
Several recent misleading articles alleging #DEAHouston is looking for Houstonians to burn Marijuana have resulted in an influx of calls from citizens. This solicitation was targeted for a large scale licensed vendor, not private citizens. https://t.co/GSygqBBWKB
— DEAHouston (@DEAHOUSTONDiv) March 29, 2019
“This solicitation was targeted for a large scale licensed vendor, not private citizens,” they wrote.
But according to NIDA, their problem isn’t quite as severe. In an email to Marijuana Moment, a representative of the agency said it has “only received a few public inquiries.” The spokesperson did not respond to a follow up question about the reasoning behind the update.
For serious candidates, the position isn’t as simple as rolling a massive amount of joints. The contractor must have “the capability to analyze and characterize various drugs of abuse including cannabinoids and other research chemicals” and also “acquire, develop, and produce marijuana and nicotine research cigarettes of varying strengths and specifications.”
Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.