A synthetic cannabinoid pharmaceutical called Rimonabant was briefly approved in Europe as an anti-obesity drug. Rimonabant inhibits the CB1 receptor, reducing its activity below normal levels and blocking other compounds, like THC or anandamide, from activating it. It was taken off the market in 2008 for causing suicidal thoughts, among other psychiatric problems, which occurred when this pharmaceutical shut down cannabinoid activity in parts of the brain.
A mother’s diet while she’s pregnant is known to affect the child’s eventual food preferences. A new animal study from scientists in the U.S. and Brazil examines how a high-fat diet during pregnancy influences the offspring’s predisposition to obesity and related complications later in life, and this appears to be mediated by changes in the endocannabinoid system. The researchers showed that the biochemical response to a high fat diet depends on whether the offspring was male or female.
Increasing consideration of the public health impact of cannabis legalization has led to a closer look at its impact on obesity. Cannabis is associated with weight loss and decreased opioid use, in spite of the munchies and the gateway theory of addiction. Weight loss and the consequent savings on health care for obesity-related complications need to be considered in economic and political analyses of cannabis legalization.
In spite of the munchies, using THC-rich cannabis is associated with lower weight and a smaller risk for Type II diabetes. This is well substantiated by human epidemiology and research. But it naively seems to contradict quite a bit of preclinical research on the role of the endocannabinoid system in metabolism, which has shown that activating the CB1 receptor promotes weight gain and reduces insulin sensitivity.
During the first week of July 2018, five-hundred-and-thirty-five delegates from five continents met at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands for the 28th annual symposium of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS). The four-day conference showcased recent scientific discoveries about cannabis components and various ways of targeting the endocannabinoid system to improve health outcomes.