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Can Marijuana Actually Help You Lose Weight? A Whole New World of Opportunity

Most people associate marijuana use with the feeling of hunger, also known as the ‘munchies’. If consuming marijuana results in feeling hungry you would expect consumers to be heavier, Right? Or at least that’s safe to assume. Despite the urge to eat while using cannabis, multiple studies have shown that regular cannabis users actually have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than nonusers.

One of the proposed theories for this involves how cannabinoids interact with our fat cells, also known as adipocytes. To understand this reaction, it’s important to understand the composition of our fat cells.

Fat Cell Overview:

White Adipocytes: Specialized for energy storage

Brown Adipocytes: Specialized for energy expenditure – contains a high concentration of mitochondria – the energy factories of our bodies

Beige Adipocytes: Fat cells transitioning from white to brown cells but act similar to brown cells

I won’t go too far into the science here but basically these brown cells help your body burn more calories and theoretically combat obesity. Research has shown that these white fat cells can actually become brown cells in a process appropriately termed “browning”.

The Role Of Cannabinoids:

Studies have shown that both CB1 and CB2 receptors play a key role in the transformation from white cells to brown. Research in mice models has actually demonstrated increased energy expenditure when CB2 receptors are stimulated, and increased food intake when CB2 is being blocked. The exact role of cannabinoids and their receptors are still poorly understood, but these observations open many possibilities for future studies to better understand their effects and how they can be utilized for patients suffering from metabolic conditions such as obesity.


Rossi F, Punzo F, Umano GR, Argenziano M, Miraglia Del Giudice E. Role of Cannabinoids in Obesity. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Sep 10;19(9):2690. doi: 10.3390/ijms19092690. PMID: 30201891; PMCID: PMC6163475.

Ngueta G, Bélanger RE, Laouan-Sidi EA, et al.. Cannabis use in relation to obesity and insulin resistance in the inuit population. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015;23:290–295 

Rodondi N, Pletcher MJ, Liu K, et al.. Marijuana use, diet, body mass index, and cardiovascular risk factors (from the CARDIA study). Am J Cardiol. 2006;98:478–484

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