Does Cannabidiol Stimulate Appetite?

Given that THC is associated with stimulating hunger, it is clear that this cannabinoid can influence our metabolism. But what about CBD?

“The munchies” refers to a condition of extreme hunger one experiences after smoking marijuana. While it may be overplayed in mainstream media, it’s true that smoking or using marijuana products cause a strong increase in appetite for many people.

Increased appetite from cannabis is generally caused by the chemical compound THC, found in large quantities in the marijuana plant. Comparatively, CBD (most abundant in hemp) does not directly cause your hunger to skyrocket. The reason for this has a lot to do with the hypothalamus. Here’s a quick rundown:

The hypothalamus is the part of your brain that houses the appetite center.
In this part of your brain, there are neurons that fire off chemicals that say “Hey, we’re full!” making you feel satiated and turning off the “hungry” switch.
Because of the way that THC binds directly to CB1 receptors in the brain, it overrides this switch, and the message that you’re full (or not hungry) doesn’t fire off.

Unlike THC, CBD does not bind directly to the CB1 receptor in the brain. This matters because it’s the way in which the CB1 brain receptor is stimulated that determines whether “huger” chemicals get released. The result? You won’t be rifling the cupboards for an unnecessary snack if you take CBD!


Research shows that CBD does indeed have a direct effect on our metabolism. During 2016, Korean researchers published a study on the topic in the scientific journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. After carefully monitoring CBD and its effects on immature fat cells, aka preadipocytes, astonishingly, they found that the cannabinoid has not one, but three ways of effecting “fat browning”.

Researchers not only discovered that CBD stimulates the proteins and genes that play a role in increasing the breakdown of fat, but also that CBD can boost the number and activity of mitochondria, magnifying the body’s power to burn calories. Interestingly enough, they found that CBD reduces the expression of proteins involved in creating new fat cells within the body as well.

While many believe that white fat can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and more, brown fat, on the other hand, can potentially promote weight loss by burning energy. Once the study was complete, researchers agreed that CBD has the ability to induce “fat browning”, or in other words, turn white fat into brown fat.

As opposed to THC, CBD doesn’t trigger the brain mechanisms that activate the munchies. This cannabinoid acts instead as an antagonist of the CB1 receptor, softening some effects generated by THC, included the craving for food. Consequently, high-CBD strains do not stimulate cravings, and it’s unlikely that using CBD products such as oils, tinctures, or capsules would either.

Researchers have also discovered that CBD stimulates the production of substances that help increase the body’s breakdown of fat and ability to burn calories. Cannabidiol also seems to reduce the expression of proteins involved in creating fat cells within the body. Needless to say, more research is needed. Still, from what we know thus far, both from lab results and anecdotal accounts, CBD in any form should not cause users to crave junk food, fats, or sugars. It will instead help metabolise food in a proper way.

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CBD has the potential to assist in metabolising the compounds absorbed from food during the digestion process by prompting the two receptors. On the other hand, you never want to overstimulate the ECS as it can result in opposite effects. For example, overstimulation can not only lead to abdominal obesity, but also insulin resistance and even an increase of energy storage in fat cells.

Many CBD hemp oil products, especially those that are a full plant extract, will contain some amount of THC. While this amount of THC is small, if you use a large dose, you may intake enough THC to have an effect on your hunger. With typical doses of CBD oil however, this effect is not likely.

Of course there are cannabis products that are neither “CBD dominant” or “THC dominant” and rather have a balanced or significant amount of both cannabinoids. With those products, you may get the munchies effect as well.

Basically: if there is THC in the product, and you take high enough dose of that product, you may experience the effect of increased appetite from the THC content.

Whether or not you’re looking to increase your appetite, taking CBD will not superficially boost your hunger, nor will it lead to unwanted weight gain. So if you’re taking CBD, you don’t need to worry about the “munchies”—CBD won’t cause you to raid the fridge like THC might, but itcan improve your appetite once your body is brought back to equilibrium.

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