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Ah, yes. The Munchies. One of the more infamous associations with anything cannabis, the munchies are both a blessing and a curse.

Stimulating hunger in chemotherapy patients via cannabis use, for example, is the munchies at their very best. Unfortunately, the flipside, meaning the stereotype of a lazy, grazing stoner, is where cannabis invites ridicule. 

But we are not talking about THC, the compound that activates parts of the brain that stimulate hunger and enhance the sense of taste. It is CBD we are concerned about.

Research and anecdotal feedback can be split on this question, but both lean towards not affecting hunger.

What we do know about CBD is that while you may not be likely to get the munchies, you can still improve your digestive health with regular use.  

CBD generally has a calming, pain alleviating effect but does target the digestive system in its unique ways. Below we will get into the studies, the benefits, recommendations for the best usage habits, and CBD products to look out for.  

Interacting with Our Appetites

Before we get into how CBD affects digestion, appetite, and stomach issues more broadly, it is instructive to understand the link between cannabis and stomach functions.

Particularly when it comes to THC, the compound responsible for the “hunger” effect in the first place, found in minuscule amounts (less than 0.3%) in full-spectrum CBD products and completely absent in broad-spectrum and isolate CBD products. 

The sense of taste is enhanced when the body interacts with THC, leading the brain to be “tricked” into thinking it is ravenously hungry, even if the body is already full. How does this happen? 

The body’s endocannabinoid system is sensitive to THC, which binds to the system’s receptors.

This particular system has been said to regulate sleep cycles, mood, stress level, immune response, sensations of comfort/discomfort, and lastly, appetite. 

Now, THC is a pretty powerful compound. It fits like a lock and key with cannabinoid receptors, telling it to do all sorts of things, enhancing the body’s sense of smell, and relaxing muscles, giving a sense of euphoria and relaxation.

But it also can tell the body that it is hungry through a series of firing neurons, even if you’ve just eaten. It also stimulates the hypothalamus to secrete more of the hormone ghrelin, the hormone that makes you hungry. 

So the munchie effect with THC is a common, even expected effect of THC use, and the compound itself is tailor-made to instill this kind of behavior within the body. What about CBD?

CBD also binds to our endocannabinoid receptors, but its relationship with these receptors is not entirely clear. Much of CBD’s benefits come from homeostasis when the body’s elements and functions are in equilibrium.

Since the digestive system plays such a massive part in homeostasis, it remains to be seen how much of a role CBD plays in the digestive system and appetite level, at least compared to the significant and well-known effects of THC.

CBD’s benefits are widely touted in terms of dampening discomfort, whether digestive or otherwise, and the mechanism by which this happens is still under scrutiny. But we do have some insights, which we will get into next.

The Research So Far

As of now, research has been sparse when it comes to CBD and its interactions with the digestive system.

However, a study that looked at CBD’s binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors indicated a strong relationship between the two (CB1 and CB2 receptors are said to influence appetite and metabolism significantly).

This hints that CBD can have a suppressant effect on hunger rather than a stimulating effect. 

Another study on rats discovered that CBD resulted in less food intake and reduced weight. Via the exact mechanisms involving the CB1 and CB2 receptors, the study found that body weight decreased in rats over 14 days with consistent dosing. 

There are also studies demonstrating contradictory indications regarding appetite and weight gain.

For example, a long-term survey conducted over three months indicated complete satisfaction with CBD, but only 6% of users reported increased appetite while taking it.

On the other hand, a study of CBD’s positive effects on epilepsy patients found that 30% of patients reported increased appetite as a primary side effect while using CBD. 

We can comfortably say, at this point, that the data on CBD and appetite is inconclusive! So what gives? 

If nothing else, this implies that user experiences are likely to vary. We all respond differently to the everyday staples of the modern world.

Caffeine, sugar, and vitamins–all are susceptible to different physiological reactions despite their ubiquity in our lives. CBD is, in all likelihood, a similar mystery, still a few studies away from any clarity.   

May Aid in Digestive Health

CBD has the potential to do great things for the digestive system. There have been numerous studies on individuals with digestive issues, particularly those who suffer from symptomatic conditions.

An Israeli study shows positive results among users of CBD who sought digestive relief for inflamed bowel.

Another study from 2016 recorded promising results for symptom relief among those with bowel and digestive symptoms. A broad majority of users reported positive effects and alleviation of pain and discomfort. 

CBD may also significantly affect symptoms like nausea and generalized stomach upset, acting as a tonic for acute incidents like these. 

Our Take

Curious about CBD’s benefits but worried about the munchies? Don’t be. CBD comes in broad-spectrum and isolate forms, reducing the risk of THC-induced munchies.

Now, do broad-spectrum or isolate versions of CBD stimulate appetite anyway? Hard to say for sure, but the risk is lower with these.

When pondering the inclusion of a lifestyle product into your routine, the last thing anyone wants to hear is “I don’t know,” particularly when it comes to the issue of appetite.

But it is essential to distinguish between CBD and THC, and by understanding the difference between these compounds, you can make the best decision for your lifestyle and wellness goals.

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