Article by Travis Cesarone, Cannabis Life Network
Our appetites go up after consuming THC, but the endocannabinoid system (ECS) regulates metabolism on both sides. In fact, a certain hormone in our bodies that is triggered by fat and sugar, leptin, will block cannabis by inhibiting the CB1 receptor.
The ECS’s role in digestion and the gut microbiome
The CB1 receptor is the on and off switch for appetite and the drive to eat. So, before becoming alarmed at the thought of blocking cannabis, remember that this hormone acts as an alarm that sends a message, “stop eating, you’re full.” (1-3)
Overall, the ECS is a major regulator of metabolism. Ethan Russo, MD, has discussed the importance that THC—as well as THCa, CBDa, and CBD—has on our microbiome health.
He has comically referred to this as the “Skinny Hippy Theory”, or more formally, the Grand Unified Theory (GUT). (4, 5) It’s not a rule of thumb, but cannabis consumers are generally thinner. Interestingly, obesity will cause a decrease in cannabinoid receptor tone due to a larger amount of leptin-releasing adipose tissue. (1-3)
Blood pressure, sugar, and cannabis green outs
If you smoke too much weed and feel incapacitated and almost faint, it is called a green out, or orthostatic hypotension. This is a major decrease in blood pressure, which can cause the brain to lose a sufficient supply of oxygen. Josh Kesselman of Raw Rolling papers has shared a story on his Instagram about a time he chugged back six sugary sodas to regain function after an infamous green out. He suspects the massive load of sugar caused his blood pressure to increase enough to counter the green out. (6)
This might be partly true, but a more direct mechanism is at play when you eat fat or chug six sugar-forward sodas to block cannabis. A huge load of glucose can spike leptin by 50% in plasma. (7) This can directly block the cannabinoid one (CB1) receptor that THC has to fully activate to facilitate intoxication. So, more than an increase in blood pressure, sugar as well as fat can directly block the effects of cannabis.
And beyond sugar, caffeine blocks other effects facilitated by THC. (8)
Conversely, leptin is also found in healthy food that brings on a genuinely sated sensation. For example, Kesslemen also briefly mentioned broccoli as a tool to get out of a green out, without much explanation. In short, broccoli is one of the foods that picks up leptin, sustainably. Fructose, the sugar from fruits, on the other hand, causes leptin resistance (when the body becomes desensitized to leptin). (1, 2, 7, 9-11)
Leptin, a natural cannabinoid inhibitor
A cannabinoid receptor (CB1R) antagonist, a cannabis blocker, was developed as a weight-loss tool. This drug, rimonabant was, however, pulled from the market due to causing severe depression as well as other negative side effects. (12) This is why leptin appears to possess deeper pharmacological functions that cannot be explained by endocannabinoid inhibition since healthy food doesn’t necessarily cause depression.
Many studies and reviews on leptin, including the inhibition of appetite and the increase in cancer-driving messengers, are often left without an analysis on the CB1 receptor. The first google search on leptin and the feeling of fullness produces a Harvard University article released in March, 2020, but fails to answer the question. (13)