Research shows that THC may play an important role in maintaining a healthy gut by regulating gut bacteria and protecting the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract. All the while, also having an impact on how we process food and its associated calories.
But how exactly does it do this?
And how can these benefits be applied to our daily lives? Here’s what you need to know about THC and gut health, including some tips on how to use cannabis as part of your wellness routine.
Parts 1) Cannabinoids Are Intestinal Lipids That Protect Against Pathogens
Our gut microbiome is an essential part of our immune system that is involved in many aspects of our physiology.
The proper balance between good and bad bacteria helps maintain that critical balance, keeping infections at bay and facilitating weight loss. Cannabinoids from marijuana could help keep that microbial population in check by reducing inflammation and preventing obesity, researchers believe.
While studies are still underway to determine whether marijuana can help with weight loss directly, its cannabinoid constituents are thought to be beneficial for maintaining healthy intestinal flora.
For example, cannabis may be able to reduce intestinal inflammation (colitis) and bacterial translocation that leads to metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
Parts 2) Cannabinoids Regulate Homeostasis
The best-known cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which, like all cannabinoids, interacts with specific receptors.
Cannabinoids are abundant in marijuana and have long been known to interact with these receptors to regulate appetite and pain sensation. What was not previously appreciated is that they also control inflammation—and therefore may be useful for treating inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Additionally, research shows that endocannabinoid signaling from gut to brain plays an important role in maintaining gut barrier function; when it’s disrupted, it can lead to inflammation of both intestines and brain—which may be what happens in people with irritable bowel syndrome.
Parts 3) Some Cannabinoids May Promote Brain Health
One way in which cannabis can influence weight is through its cannabinoids. Research shows that CBD’s anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure, and antioxidant effects may protect against brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
In fact, studies have shown that CBD may improve symptoms of both diseases.
Cannabinoids also promote health by interacting with receptors throughout our bodies to reduce pain, inflammation, nausea, anxiety, and other debilitating conditions.
Because of these properties, research suggests that cannabis has therapeutic potential for treating many chronic illnesses.
Parts 4) Cannabinoids Can Boost Metabolism
Marijuana boosts metabolism and bolsters gut health, which is good news for those who are struggling to lose weight.
This effect has been seen in animals as well as humans. In fact, research published in 2012 found that pot smokers were thinner than those who abstained from marijuana, even if they consumed other recreational drugs like alcohol or cocaine.
However, one needs to take this research with caution because it isn’t evidence of causality meaning, in other words, that THC won’t necessarily make you thin and there are a multitude of other factors that influence this metabolic process.
HC increases calories burned by influencing how fat cells work, but it also decreases appetite and lowers insulin levels. These factors help explain why cannabis users tend to have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than non-users.
Parts 5) Cannabinoids Can Induce Fat Loss
Many studies have shown that cannabis induces weight loss, but we weren’t entirely sure why.
A new study suggests that an increase in bacterial species of Akkermansia muciniphila leads to fat loss. It also promotes endocannabinoid signaling and strengthens gut barrier function. These mechanisms may contribute to increased weight loss associated with cannabinoids.
This research appears to demonstrate how compounds in cannabis are helping reduce body fat—more specifically visceral adipose tissue (VAT).
Visceral adipose tissue is sometimes referred to as beer belly because it accumulates at our waistline. If someone has more VAT than other abdominal tissue, they are considered at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other health problems.
Part 6) THC Improves Insulin Sensitivity
A 2014 study from GW Pharmaceuticals found that administering THC with insulin to rodents over eight weeks improved insulin sensitivity.
This is great news for those of us with type 2 diabetes, as it means our insulin is more effective at lowering blood sugar and fat cells. Not only that, but researchers also observed an increase in lean body mass (muscle) in these animals.
It’s important to note that these are pre-clinical results and may not apply directly to humans—but they’re still promising!
Part 7) THC Plays A Role In HGH Release
Several studies have demonstrated that THC promotes muscle growth.
This is especially true for muscles that are being trained for athletic purposes, such as weightlifting. In one of these studies, scientists gave subjects oral doses of different cannabis derivatives to find out how each would affect muscle growth and recovery.
They found that three hours after ingesting THC, their subjects had more human growth hormone in their blood than people were given placebo injections.
Human growth hormone is critical for building lean muscle mass and reducing body fat. It’s also known to boost bone density, which can help protect against osteoporosis later in life.
Again, just because HGH is increasing – doesn’t mean that it will create better muscles. THC is also very well known for decreasing testosterone and increasing estrogen levels in men and women.
Both are detrimental to the growth and development of muscle growth and many other issues such as libido and fertility.
Part 8) Aging Suppresses the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The endocannabinoid system is composed of cannabinoid receptors, cannabinoid synthase (an enzyme that produces endogenous cannabinoids), and various other proteins.
Evidence suggests that people get less sensitive to endocannabinoids as they age, possibly because their receptors downregulate.
As we age, we also produce fewer endocannabinoids. However, it appears as though we can induce an increase in our sensitivity to these compounds with exercise or by consuming compounds found in cannabis like THC.
In fact, some researchers believe that a lack of endocannabinoid signaling may be one reason why older adults are more likely to develop obesity and Type 2 diabetes than younger adults.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you might want to consider supplements containing CBD or THC depending on what your MD has to say.
Another option would be taking CBD oil before working out; research shows that it could help reduce inflammation from strenuous activity while improving overall endurance performance.
Part 9) Activating Our ECS with Cannabis Can Improve Overall Health
Cannabis can help you maintain a healthy weight by activating your endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is comprised of cannabinoid receptors that are found throughout our bodies, in places like our brain, immune system, lungs, liver, and digestive tract. Cannabinoids like THC bind to these receptors, helping to create more enzymes that aid in metabolism.
This process helps to regulate appetite and balance energy intake and output. By maintaining a healthy ECS, we’re able to keep hunger at bay and maintain normal body weight. Additionally, cannabis may also improve gut health through its ability to increase levels of beneficial bacteria in our intestines.
One such bacterium called Akkermansia muciniphila has been shown to control fat storage and adipose tissue metabolism while also improving endocannabinoid signaling from the gut to the brain.
Not All Is Butterflies & Rainbows With THC
Although THC has been considered to be protective against weight gain and obesity, the body’s ability to process the cannabinoid is negatively impacted by high-fat diets.
This can lead to a stronger development of issues such as endocannabinoid deficiency, causing cannabinoid cravings and further disruption of metabolic function. To prevent these negative effects from occurring, researchers suggest keeping fat intake low and incorporating exercise into your daily routine.
They also stress that cannabis use should not exceed 1 gram per day in order to avoid these potential side effects from developing. THC increases heart rate by 50% on average and up to 100% under extreme conditions.
THC can have very negative implications for the cardiovascular system when used in a recreational manner so always consult with your MD first.