Inflammation and obesity: Can cannabis help break the cycle?

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Like many chronic lifestyle-related diseases, inflammation is at the core. Obesity may be no different.

When it comes to obesity, doctors oftentimes prescribe medications to treat the accompanying co-morbidities, such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and dysregulated blood glucose. Some note, however, that inflammation is at the root of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar.

Substances called cytokines can create other health issues, including insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a precursor of Type 2 diabetes, which is frequently, but not always, related to obesity.

Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, can happen over time as a result of less-than-optimal lifestyle habits. A diet high in sugar and processed food raises blood sugar, which signals the body to make insulin to clear glucose from the bloodstream. Chronic consumption of these foods forces the body to produce increasing amounts of insulin to keep up with the influx of sugar.

Eventually, the body becomes desensitized and insulin stops responding. The result can be high blood sugar, which causes more inflammation, further exacerbating insulin resistance.

Routinely eating sugary, processed foods may be related to endocannabinoid system (ECS) signaling, which involves the activation of receptors by endocannabinoids, triggering specific actions in the body.

Changing eating habits to follow an anti-inflammatory food plan is vital. / PHOTO BY ROSTISLAV_SEDLACEK / ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS

Signaling in the gut may drive overeating of the Standard American Diet of processed, low-nutrient foods, which, in turn, leads to elevated levels of endocannabinoids, potentially more overeating of sugary foods and, in response, insulin resistance.

The question is: How to reduce the inflammation? Changing eating habits to follow an anti-inflammatory food plan is vital. For those with endocannabinoid system dysfunction and resultant food addiction, changing lifestyle routines can be challenging. Consulting with a nutritionist who is well-versed in the ECS is helpful.

To combat inflammation, adding cannabis cultivars that are high in CBD may be helpful, given that it said to be one of the most potent anti-inflammatory compounds in the plant world. In fact, the U.S. government has a patent on this cannabinoid as an anti-inflammatory.

Because the ECS is involved in the modulation of many physiological systems, it is thought that CBD can work to combat inflammation throughout the body. This, perhaps, can help to reduce disordered food consumption, lower inflammation and help manage obesity.

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