What helps reduce nausea and vomiting and help maintain a healthy weight? Medical cannabis is a long time staple for reducing the challenging side effects of cancer treatment, but it may also have benefits for other applications as well.
Cannabis is the Great Regulator. It works within the endocannabinoid system to return it to a state of balance. That means boosting appetite when needed during chemo treatments, but also improving fat storage and processing for those with excess. During periods of intense gastrointestinal distress, it also works tirelessly to reduce the experience of nausea vomiting — to restore a sense of calm.
The Myth of the Munchies
Everyone has heard of cannabis creating ‘the munchies,’ a sensation where the medicated individual must consume as much food as possible, as quickly as possible, and therefore eats everything in the refrigerator. If you’ve ever tried cannabis, you may be familiar with this overpowering urge.
But despite the assumptions about cannabis and the munchies, it looks as if the reverse might be true. According to Adrienne Santos-Longhurst for Healthline:
“It can increase mobility, it may cause some people to drink less, it can lower stress. Stress eating is a very real thing. Studies show that people are more likely to overeat and reach for comfort foods when stressed. It’s no secret that weed can ease anxiety and help calm you when you’re feeling stressed. Some believe that this might replace stress eating for some people. It may improve sleep. Poor sleep can be a factor in weight gain. There’s some evidence that cannabis may improve insomnia. Plus, it may help reduce stress and pain, two of the main culprits behind poor sleep.”
So, one of the reasons why cannabis can help you lose weight might have to do with cannabis improving other areas of your life, such as lowering stress or lessening chronic pain, which makes it easier to stay active.
Reducing Consumption of Other Recreational Substances
Additionally, some people find that by smoking cannabis, they consume less alcohol. Alcohol contains what is commonly called “empty calories.” Essentially calories with no nutritional or medicinal value. If you can use cannabis to cut out drinking, this will naturally shed pounds. No exercise required.
Drinking contributes to your dietary calorie count. If you consume alcohol regularly, excess calories can add up quickly. Smoking cannabis instead of alcohol may be an option for some who are looking for a simple, effective way to cut extra calories. You’ll still enjoy a pleasurable social lubricant, but without the additional calories.
Researchers have already been investigating the substitution of alcohol for cannabis, including one recent study on medical cannabis patients in New England. This study found, “two-fifths (42.0%) decreased their use of alcohol after starting [medical cannabis].”
Cannabis Changes How We Process Fat
That’s not the only thing that cannabis does that will help people maintain a healthy weight. There is more than meets the eye to this medicinal herb. Another way cannabis may help you lose weight is by changing the way fat is processed by your body.
New research is looking at how different cannabinoids influence fat storage and processing within the human body. It seems as if CBD could have a positive impact on the way we store different kinds of fat cells. As stated by Jon Johnson on MedicalNewsToday, “Not only did CBD help convert white fat cells into brown fat cells, it also stimulated the body to break down fats more efficiently.”
Cannabis can help the body convert white fat cells into brown fat cells, which are more easily changed by the body into energy. According to Women’s Health Magazine, “The purpose of brown fat is to burn calories in order to generate heat. That’s why brown fat is often referred to as the “good” fat since it helps us burn, not store, calories. Brown fat is derived from muscle tissue and is found primarily in hibernating animals and newborns.”
Based on this early research, it seems as if cannabis could theoretically help your body convert that stubborn fat into the more easily burned brown fat.
Cannabis for Nausea and Vomiting Related to Chemotherapy
Cannabis is beloved by many patients undergoing chemotherapy for its ability to reduce the side effects of nausea and vomiting. Cannabis rose in popularity and social acceptance with the discovery that it alleviated symptoms of nausea in patients undergoing challenging cancer treatments.
According to details published in “Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids,” CBD has a role to play. The authors of this paper say, “The primary non-psychoactive compound in
cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), also suppresses nausea and vomiting within a limited dose range.”
Product CBD states, “THC also works well for many as an anti-nausea cannabinoid. When THC binds to the CB1 receptors in specific parts of the brain, it acts to reduce vomiting. The potentially uplifting side effects of THC can also be therapeutic in this case if not too intense. Creating a more positive state of mind is helpful for anyone going through chemotherapy, or for anyone experiencing difficult-to-treat, chronic nausea.”
This information is also corroborated by the Canadian Cancer Society, “Several studies have shown that some cannabinoids can relieve nausea, vomiting or both. These are side effects of some cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy.”
According to CanMD, “It is now well established that compounds such as Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana can bind with the human body’s natural endocannabinoid receptors, triggering similar stimulus and reactions as those created by the body’s own naturally-produced endocannabinoids. This relationship explains why THC and other specific compounds within marijuana are able to suppress sensations of nausea and the urge to vomit.”
So when THC binds with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors, it suppresses nausea and vomiting. This is why cannabis has long been a popular co-treatment of chemotherapy and radiation.
Benefits of Cannabis for Weight Loss and Nausea
Cannabis is a valuable tool for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Patients are already using it in Canada, the US, and several other countries as an approved conjunctive therapy for cancer treatment.
Over the years, pharmaceutical companies have even developed several synthetic cannabinoids for the treatment of nausea and vomiting. According to a report published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, “Many patients have a strong preference for smoked marijuana over the synthetic cannabinoids delivered orally.” Cannabis continues to be a patient’s preferred option.
On top of the treatment of nausea, cannabis also helps regulate a healthy weight. Whether that means helping increase appetite during chemotherapy, and therefore reduce the risk of weight loss or by helping keep weight off for those on a diet. Cannabis works within the endocannabinoid to return the body to a state of balance, including maintaining a healthy weight.