Does CBD Increase Your Appetite?

Written by Nina Julia | Last updated: May 3, 2022

Cannabis has always been associated with appetite stimulation, mostly due to marijuana’s ability to create munchies.

The munchies are an inseparable element of a euphoric sensation known as a “high.”

This simply means that food and drinks are a lot more enjoyable, which may lead to overeating.

The main trigger for munchies is THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana.

But what about hemp and CBD?

Is CBD an appetite stimulant too?

The answer is more complex than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

Before we delve deeper into the effects of CBD on appetite, let’s focus on how appetite and hunger work.

How Appetite & Hunger Work

Elevated appetite is the sign of hunger, and hunger is one of the most basic survival instincts. Your brain is in charge of controlling appetite, informing the body when it should eat and what we should put in our stomachs.

For example, if you have a strong desire for a specific meal, it means that the body may be lacking an important nutrient found in that type of food.

Although appetite and hunger mean similar things, they’re not the same.

While hunger occurs usually when we crave food for survival, the appetite may not be associated solely with our nutritional needs.

What we eat, the way we eat, and how much we eat affects hormonal balance in the brain, influencing our appetite.

Certain chemicals circulate in the brain and act on neurotransmitters to signal us when we’re hungry and what we want to eat.

These substances are known as hormones. The hormone responsible for hunger is called Ghrelin.

Appetite is also modulated outside of the hormonal side. For example, mood, emotions, and sentiments all affect whether or not we want to eat, as well as the kind of foods we crave.

For instance, eating comfort food too often is associated with sadness or an underlying mental health condition. Anxiety and stress, on the other hand, can make it difficult to eat and digest.

Environmental factors, such as to scents, sounds, and pictures, can influence appetite as well.

People who live a happy life usually have a healthy appetite, but those suffering from eating disorders or hormonal imbalances may experience fluctuation of appetite.

Why Is Appetite Stimulation Important?

Image of a Person Picking up Food

The human body needs nutrition in order to survive and grow. There are three dietary categories of nutrients — proteins, fats, and carbohydrates — but you also need important vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.

A lack of any of these compounds can have negative consequences for your physical and mental health.

A healthy appetite means that a person consumes and absorbs all three nutrient categories as well as other beneficial substances for general well-being.

Although CBD won’t give you the munchies, it can help you achieve a healthy appetite through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

However, before we elaborate on CBD being an appetite stimulant, let’s focus on lifestyle activities that can help you achieve the same effect.

Lifestyle Modifications for Appetite Stimulation

  • Working out regularly can stimulate appetite due to the fact that it increases your energy consumption.
  • Consider eating in cozy, comfortable conditions, or sharing a meal with friends during your favorite TV show. If you’re having a good time during your dinner, you may eat more.
  • Diversify your meal plan by adding a variety of your favorite foods. You can keep a meal journal to make sure that monotony never enters your diet.
  • Eat 2–3 meals a day instead of 5 smaller meals. Eating too frequently can trigger insulin resistance, making you feel constantly unsatiated and leading to weight gain.
  • Consider adding meals in the liquid form, including smoothies, protein shakes, and juices. Depending on the type of nutrients you need, you can mix different ingredients to create a superfood cocktail. Just make sure you’re consuming nutrient-dense ingredients rather than empty calories from commercial beverages.

Is CBD an Appetite Stimulant?

Iimage of a Guy Dropping CBD Oil on his Tea

CBD can act as a mild appetite suppressant or stimulant depending on your individual health needs. That’s because CBD exerts adaptogenic properties, meaning it can optimize the biological functions of your body without any negative structural changes.

We’ll elaborate on these properties in the next few sections, but first, let’s make sure you understand the different effects of CBD vs THC on the brain.

CBD vs THC

THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana plants. This cannabinoid is responsible for producing the euphoric sensation of being high. THC also stimulates the production of ghrelin, which — as mentioned earlier — is the hormone responsible for making you hungry.

This, in turn, triggers a popular effect known as the munchies. Moreover, THC makes you more reactive to scents, and since the nasal tract and palate are interconnected, this change in perception can elevate your appetite even more.

THC also affects the area of the brain where the majority of CB1 receptors are located. When THC binds to the CB1 receptor, it results in a surge of dopamine.

Dopamine is the “feel good” chemical; increased concentration of this neurotransmitter allows us to draw more pleasure out of eating, making the process more rewarding.

Although CBD shares similar health benefits with THC, it’s also very different in certain aspects. This includes its influence on appetite.

CBD doesn’t bind to the CB1 receptor, so it won’t trigger the munchies. In addition, CBD can block the binding site of this receptor, weakening its interaction with THC.

In simple words, when you take THC alongside CBD, the appetite stimulation may not be as pronounced as if you took a high-THC marijuana strain alone.

CBD uses different mechanisms to engage with the ECS. Here are the most common effects on both types of cannabinoid receptors.

Effects of CBD on CB1 Receptors

Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t have a direct affinity with the CB1 receptor. However, it can indirectly enhance its functioning in the following ways:

  • CBD may signal the ECS to produce more anandamide, which is a naturally produced endocannabinoid. Anandamide has a similar molecular structure to THC, and as such, it can bind to CB1 receptors in the brain — leading to an increase in appetite.
  • CBD can boost dopamine production by reducing stress and optimizing the activity of GABA and 5-HTA receptors. Higher levels of dopamine are associated with greater pleasure from eating.
  • CBD may regulate mood and appetite by acting on serotonin receptors. Mood and appetite are closely linked with each other; anxiety and sadness may cause a loss of appetite or an increase in the need for comfort foods. A balanced mood helps your body achieve a healthy appetite.

Effects of CBD on CB2 Receptors

CB2 receptors are another important constituent of the ECS. They are frequently linked to the immune system, which makes them responsible for overall health and well-being. Most of these receptors are located throughout the gastrointestinal tract and take part in every important step from feeding to digestion, including:

  • Regulation of saliva production
  • Stomach acid release
  • The peristalsis of the gut
  • The absorption of vitamins and minerals, as well as important dietary categories (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates)

Other Ways CBD May Act As An Appetite Stimulant

Since CBD acts on both the brain and the digestive system, there are plenty of other ways this cannabinoid can act as an appetite stimulant:

  • CBD has the ability to boost mood and reduce anxiety. Positive emotions and sentiments, as well as elevated mood, may promote hunger.
  • CBD can help minimize bloating and indigestion symptoms, such as acid reflux and constipation — improving appetite as a result.
  • By aiding digestive health, when CBD is added to food, it allows the meal to be broken down more quickly and efficiently, stimulating hunger for the next mealtime.

How to Use CBD Oil to Support a Healthy Appetite

Bread Imbued with Hemp Oil and Leaf

Studies on CBD and appetite are in an early stage. What we do know about CBD as a potential appetite stimulant comes from the studies on its general properties.

That being said, the modulation of the ECS holds great potential for encouraging a healthy appetite while supporting your body’s homeostasis.

The problem is that many people consider CBD oil — as well as other dietary supplements — a magical pill that will do wonders for their appetite, leaving aside other important factors.

If you want to maintain a healthy appetite, consider adding the following habits to your CBD routine:

Exercise

This comes as an obvious piece of advice, but staying active is one of the best methods to encourage a healthy appetite.

Exercising causes you to burn calories, and taking CBD oil for weight loss can be a great help for losing weight. But on top of that, burning more energy leaves you some room for indulgence in sweet treats and other types of comfort foods. Although it’s essential to develop a responsible approach to eating, and the majority of your diet should be nutrient-dense, it’s also important to feed the soul from time to time.

And if you struggle to eat regularly, working out may help with that too. Regular workout sessions release endorphins that make us feel happy and trigger the need to refuel the body.

Take Omega Fatty Acids

Omega fatty acids have a myriad of benefits, one of which appears to be a positive effect on weight loss.

Just keep in mind to keep the correct ratios between omega-3 and omega-6 acids. The omega-3s are anti-inflammatory compounds, while omega-6s are known to cause inflammation. Therefore, you should always consume more omega-3s than omega-6s.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in beef, fish, nuts, and hemp seed oil.

Establish a Schedule

Humans like to have habits, but with busy work and the rapid pace of social life, eating is usually the first activity that we neglect.

However, in our pursuit of career, money, and happiness, we often forget that eating is the cornerstone of our survival.

When we develop poor eating habits and continue to stick to them for months, or even years, it can take a serious toll on our appetite and overall health.

Establishing the right habits is the first thing you should do if you struggle with poor appetite. CBD as an appetite stimulant may help, but it won’t solve your problems alone.

Summarizing the Effects of CBD on Appetite

The effects of CBD on appetite are complex and yet to be fully understood. Considering the multifaceted mechanism CBD uses to interact with the ECS, it can act either as an appetite stimulant or mild appetite suppressant.

CBD has adaptogenic properties, meaning it will prioritize the areas of your health that need the most improvements.

While CBD oil may affect appetite differently in different people, adding it to a healthy diet and active lifestyle adds a solid building block to achieving a healthy appetite.

What effect does CBD have on your appetite? Does it act as a stimulant or suppressant? Share your stories in the comments below!

Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.

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