What can cannabis science tell us about healthy life habits? When it operates properly, our endocannabinoid system (ECS) controls our metabolism, appetite, satiety, and our body weight. CB1 cannabinoid receptors in our brain tell us to eat when our body requires food. They stimulate our appetite and sharpens our smell, to additionally award us while eating. On the other hand, activation of CB2 receptor works opposite to CB1. It tries to decrease our body’s food intake and prevent fat accumulation. Discover the effect of metabolism, diet, and metabolism booster effects on our health in this article.
Cannabis was our friend even before the written word. People used fiber for cordage and cloth, seeds for nutrition, and roots, leaves, and flowers for ritual and healing. During the Neolithic period our ancestors discovered uses for every part of cannabis, which was one of the first agricultural crops (perhaps even the first) ever to be grown and harvested about 12,000 years ago. You can read more about history of cannabis here.
However, agriculture is not a natural phenomenon. It is an expression of human ingenuity and invention, described as the basis (literally the ground) of modern civilization. Swiss scientist Jurg Gertsch, who performs research the consequences of dietary changes due to food cultivation claims that the beginning of agriculture was probably the most critical and important developmental event in human history (British Journal of Pharmacology)
The early humanoids lived a very uncertain life in the wild, where they required a lot of physical power (hunting and gathering) to survive. Hunger, microbial infections, traumatic predator encounters, fight or flight, were all a part of lifestyle before agriculture emerged. Due to metabolic requirements of large brain, daily effort, stressful daily activities, our ancestors needed energy and nutrient rich food. Their metabolism was different compared to ours.
In those times only fresh meat, fruit and vegetables were available and it was easier, to keep our ECS in balance (and metabolism booster principles were not required). However, in the modern world our diet is very unsuitable for our way of life. Therefore, our CB1 receptors are constantly in overdrive mode reinforcing and aberrant feed-reward-feed loop from all the sugary, high-fat foods we consume. Additionally, physical activity has a great effect as well. Hunter-gatherers ran and moved around a lot. In this way their bodies produced natural body endocannabinoids and they burned all the consumed food. Today’s lifestyle which includes a lot of sitting, unfortunately does not allow our bodies to function in the same way. Therefore, metabolism and diet must adjust.
WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC OF METABOLIC DISORDERS
Gertsch’s provocative thesis is that chronical metabolic disorders (currently a worldwide pandemic) are rooted in a mismatch between ancient genes and high caloric diets that ensued with the introduction of agriculture. Gertsch claims that the multimillion-year evolutionary process during which nearly all genetic change reflected the life circumstances of our ancestors was suddenly disturbed, when “carbohydrate farming” supplanted the hunter-gatherer diet rich in animal food. He claims that interplay between diet and the endocannabinoid system is key to understanding today’s obesity/diabetes crisis and its potential remediation. You can read more about the endocannabinoid system here.
Endocannabinoid system, the ancient biological signaling network regulates many physiological processes including digestive function, glucose metabolism, and the stress response. Cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 have different but complementary roles pertaining to diet, digestion, and energy metabolism. Can ECS also serve as a metabolism booster?
PROCESSED FOOD AND EXERCISE – Metabolism Booster Gone Wrong
One of the studies conducted on mice showed that during 60 days of eating high fat and high sugary food, CB1 receptors became too active, which prevented the release of amino acids meant to reduce appetite when the system is working properly. On the other hand, we have our CB2 receptors which are activated by plant-based food such as leafy, bitter green plants (also cannabis), olive oil and various spices that are very undernourished in a typical Western diet heavy on carbs and processed food.
Additionally, the lack of Omega-3 fatty acids changes how our cannabinoid receptors work. These healthy fatty acids help our ECS to work properly and when we lack Omega-3 fatty acids (problem with many westerners) the ECS is weakened. It would require a metabolism booster to get back on track.
Physical activity (people used to hunt, cultivate, and gather food) is very important to keep our ECS in good shape as well. Workout releases our natural endocannabinoids and helps us control stress and healthy body weight. Nowadays, there is too much sitting behind your desk, in the car or on the couch due to our modern lifestyle. Consequences are felt by our metabolism as well.
CANNABINOID RECEPTOR CB1 CAN BE A GREAT ALLY…
In mammaly, CB1 receptors are concentrated in our brain and central nervous system. They are also present in taste buds and the gut-brain axis. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabis major psychoactive component stimulates appetite and food intake as it bounds to the CB1 receptor. However, CB1 receptor can exert paradoxical effects on food intake, facilitating essential nourishment as well as metabolic imbalance (metabolism no longer in sync).
CB1 receptor signaling triggers a newborn’s suckling instinct. Mother’s milk is well endowed with arachidonic acid, a basic building block of the brain’s own cannabis-like compounds, anandamide, and 2-AG. These endogenous cannabinoid compounds bind to cell receptors (CB1 and CB2) that mediate many of the cannabis effects. Arachidonic acid increases endocannabinoid levels in different tissues and is crucial for pre- and post-natal brain development. It can be found in eggs, meat, and dairy products (it is a natural endogenic metabolism booster)
In addition to heightening, one’s sense of smell and appetite stimulation, CB1 receptor signaling may facilitate survival after excessive physical exertion (hunting and gathering), stress or trauma by restoring homeostasis, suppressing negative memories, and reducing anxiety at the level of the central nervous system. CB1 activation is also connected to increased energy intake and energy expenditure decrease by controlling the neural pathways.
…OR AN ENEMY
Combined with a lot of daily physical activity, hunter-gatherers and their diet did not cause obesity, metabolic issues, or cardiovascular problems. However, hunter-gatherer diet (high in fats) profoundly changed with the arrival of food cultivation. Cultivating carbohydrates brought the most important dietary change which remains today. Gertsch claims there is continuum between the past plant carbohydrate cultivation of yore and todays over-starched, over-sweetened and over-processed Western diet.
Grain, carbs, sugar, alcohol, high fructose syrup. What started as a basis of civilization has spiraled into a mass-marketed refined sugar binge. Dietary carbohydrates, once essential for cognitive and social development of Paleolithic human, slowly transformed into a metabolic stress factor, as a function of their glycemic indices. Epidemiological evidence points toward a pandemic diet-induced glucose toxicity due to excess sugar intake.
The endocannabinoid system is deeply implicated in this unhealthy trend towards which the entire world is heading. Connected to both motivation and reward, CB1 receptor signaling stimulates sugar intake by enhancing neural responses to sweet flavors. It has been shown that chronicle CB1 receptor activation causes obesity-related resistance to insulin in mice. Aberrant CB1 activity reinforces a metabolically skewed feedback loop. In obese people, higher endocannabinoid levels are found in liver, pancreas, adipose tissue, and skeletal muscle, where they contribute to insulin resistance, decreased glucose uptake, oxygen depletion, and cardiometabolic distress.
Generation and excess use of sugar could be seen as analogy to the harmful effects of the first distilled alcohol on people. The sudden availability of excess sugar in combination with fats in diet can lead to a clash of genes that evolved to cope with high energy demands due to constant physical activity. Excessive consumption of high energy food without physical activity can lead to obesity. In turn, this leads to metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and other degenerative conditions, which require boosting metabolism solution.
CANNABINOID RECEPTOR CB2 SAVES THE DAY
CB1 and CB2 receptors have different dietary and nutrition roles in animal studies. CB2 activation usually results in opposite effects compared to CB1. While CB1 receptors stimulate appetite and food consumption, CB2 receptors limit the food intake into our bodies.
Primarily expressed in immune cells, fatty tissue, and peripheral nervous system, CB2 receptors bring wide anti-inflammatory effects in various disease models. Gertsch claims that CB2 receptor has a protective role in diet-induced metabolic malignancies. Preclinical research indicates CB2 receptor activity can prevent or ameliorate diabetes-associated peripheral neuropathy and pro-inflammatory obesity. CB2 signaling is also protective against brain damage from strokes, concussions, and neurodegenerative disease.
Gertsch suggests, that the contemporary mismatch between ancient genes and high caloric diets might be reconciled in part by CB2’s ability to mediate the effects of secondary plant metabolites (terpenes, flavonoids, and other polyphenolic compounds) that are found in spices, leafy greens, ant other vegetables (in cannabis as well). Dietary secondary metabolites from vegetables and spices are able to enhance the activity of CB2 receptors and may provide adaptive metabolic advantages and counteract inflammation.
GUT MICROBIOME IS THE QUEEN
Our gut microbiome (trillions of bacteria living there) health is essential for our body, and not only for effective and efficient digestion. Our gut has its own “brain” that communicate with our brain. Medical scientists recognized the importance of gut-brain axis that affects inflammation, digestion, and even our mood, emotions, and general well-being. ECS regulates our gut-brain axis and help with communication between microbiome and the brain. If our diet is damaging our microbiome and causes gut dysbiosis, its also skewing your ECS and the way your brain functions.
We could say that mitochondria are the spice of life, the main ingredient of a cell. Mitochondria converts sugars, fats and protein into energy that sustains our bodies. Consequently, mitochondrial imbalances can affect the way we burn energy, making it harder to lose weight. Fixing these imbalances can greatly improve the health of our metabolism and improves our well-being.
CBD and other cannabinoids can regulate mitochondria activity in a way, that they balance our endocannabinoid system, which helps us achieve metabolic balance or homeostasis and serve as a metabolism booster. Maybe CBD combined with diet and exercise can possibly increase the rate of which we burn fat? Let’s see…
Healthy Fats, Healthy People
Fat is a very complex macro nutrient. Most people think of it as a bad thing. Scientifically speaking, this is not the case. On the contrary, there are two types of fats in our body: the good fat (brown) and the bad (white).
White fat is predominant. This is the fat we developed to keep us from starving when we were but cave dwelling creatures. It stores and supplies our body with energy and cushions our organs for extreme scenarios we most probably will not face in our lifetimes. Therefore, this fat can damage our metabolism. Oppositely, brown fat generates heat and burns calories.
In a study (published in »Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry«) researchers found, that CBD can transform white fat into brown fat. Although, human trials have to be performed, the results presents a huge potential for the use of CBD oil or other cannabis products in combination with weight loss programs.
To protect our body the liver removes toxins and convert excess sugars into insulin. These sugars come from basically everything we eat, from fruit to beer. From there, they travel to pancreas, which sends it to the cells. Irregular insulin levels can overload the liver and pancreas, throwing the body out of wack. Additionally, too much insulin in the bloodstream means we cannot burn fat. Consequently, we are going to have a harder time losing weight.
CBD has potential to regulate insulin levels, which consequently means balancing body weight as well. Preclinical study showed that CBD lowered instances of diabetes in non-diabetic mice.
Cannabis (mainly THC in cannabis) is known to stimulate appetite. As a result, some doctors prescribe cannabis to chemotherapy patients whose appetites have been affected. Although it is true, THC makes us hungry, this is not the case with CBD. Researchers believe that CBD is more of an appetite suppressant, which was also proved in 2012 study, which you can find here.
LET’S BE SMART AND REASONABLE
Cumulative result of bad habits can lead to poor endocannabinoid system, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and other degenerative conditions connected to heavily processed Western food, dietary practices, and predominantly sedentary lifestyle.
Before shopping, think about what you eat, where it originates from and how it is grown. In combination with a healthy lifestyle, which includes exercise and nature it is a recipe for success. With it you can count on absolute support of cannabis products to help as a metabolism booster.
G. D. C,
05. 08. 2021