CBD For Binge-Eating
Did you know that binge-eating is the most common eating disorder? Though many think of it as something to chastise, it’s a serious condition that affects about 2.8 million Americans. This disorder is even more common than breast cancer and HIV. It is the breeding ground for diabetes, heart disease, bone disease, and mental health disorders. If you are someone who suffers from binge-eating disorder, CBD might be the help you need to get into a healthy lifestyle.
Eating disorders revolve around the reward system, which is why CBD can be so effective in treatment. Cannabidiol has access to your endocannabinoid system which regulates your body. By preventing overstimulation in your reward system, you can help retrain your brain towards healthier eating habits.
Food And The Reward System
In our brain, we have neurotransmitters which are used to send information across our neurons. One of those chemicals is dopamine which is known for being the reward signal in our brains. There is also the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is the chemical that modifies the levels of dopamine in pathways. These chemicals are released when we do things that help us survive; it’s a way that our bodies keep us alive. Things like eating, sleeping, and having sex all give us a chemical reaction that makes us want to do it again. This is called positive reinforcement.
When studying eating disorders on rats, scientists noticed a change in dopamine, acetylcholine, and opioid systems in areas of the brain that are related to the reward system. This evidence suggests that the reward system plays a pivotal role in binge-eating, which is excellent news for those using CBD to help treat their disorder.
The Rabbit Hole Of Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is what keeps us alive, but it can also be our downfall. When you eat food, your reward system lights up with chemicals like dopamine to make you feel pleasure. The only problem with this method of keeping you alive is that this positive reinforcement can become addictive for many people. This is the same process that goes along with drug addiction, and binge eating can be just as dangerous.
Depression And Binge Eating
Those who suffer from depression are incredibly vulnerable to over activating their reward system because most of them feel so terrible all of the time. This could be drug use, extremely sexual lifestyle, and binge eating.
Binge eating would be easier on your body if you ate healthy things, (though it still wouldn’t be good for you) but the majority of people who binge eat don’t have a balanced diet. They crave the foods that give them the reward stimulation, one of those being carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are good for you in moderation but eating too many carbs can lead to insulin resistance and excessive weight gain. Carbohydrates increase the serotonin release in your brain which is why so many people find themselves snacking on these foods. This serotonin release can make people accidentally turn to food as medicine because it is involved in your sleep, pain, mood, and blood pressure.
Dairy and sweets are okay in moderation, but it can be difficult to hold back when you have depression because these two foods trigger the release of dopamine. Chocolate is one of the leading culprits of comfort food, also elevating the endocannabinoid anandamide in your system which also makes you feel good.
There are healthy foods that you can try to eat that also give you this dopamine release like protein and raw vegetables, but it can be challenging to fight the cravings when your brain is telling you what it wants. You don’t have to have depression to fall victim to binge eating; you can have a chemical imbalance or a brain injury that can cause you to crave that intense pleasure that the reward system brings. Fighting off a biochemical craving is hard, just ask the people trying to get off of opiates. Many people are turning to CBD because it helps that craving go away so they can retrain themselves to be healthier.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the chemical that we find in the cannabis sativa plant. That’s right; cannabis can help you stop binge eating. This chemical isn’t like the famous THC that gets you high and gives you the munchies, though that chemical has plenty of health benefits we can’t rule out. CBD interacts with your endocannabinoid system differently, preventing it from giving you intoxicating effects like THC.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system runs as a regulator for your body through a process called homeostasis. This system is the reason that you get a fever when there is a virus trying to wreak havoc on your body, and why you don’t stay sad forever after something upsets you. This system is made up of three major parts, endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and metabolic enzymes.
Cannabinoids come from cannabis, and endocannabinoids come from our brains. The names are so similar because the chemicals share many similarities. THC is so close to the endocannabinoid anandamide that it can actually bind to the CB1 cannabinoid receptor which is partly how it gets you high. Endocannabinoids don’t make you feel that extreme euphoria, but they do some other really cool stuff like reduce your sensitivity to pain and calm your immune system down.
They Travel Backward
Endocannabinoids don’t go from sending cell to receiving cell like most chemicals in the brain. Instead, they travel from the receiving cell to the sending cell to give information. When your brain needs information passed between neurons, it will send neurotransmitters through the synapse from presynaptic cell to postsynaptic cell. If too much or too little information is being sent over, the endocannabinoids come across with their own transmission telling the presynaptic cell to either pump the breaks or pump up the volume.
The endocannabinoids that we have need somewhere to go and that place is the cannabinoid receptor. Endocannabinoids bind to these receptors so that information can be transferred between cells. We only know of two cannabinoid receptors, though scientists do believe they may uncover a third one day.
The first is the CB1 receptor which densely located in the brain, though can be found throughout the body. It runs the neurological functions such as sleep, pain, mood, and appetite. The CB2 receptors are more spread out through your body and control the immune functions, helping to mediate how many immune cells are sent out and where.
Endocannabinoids have to come from somewhere, right? One thing that is interesting about these organic chemicals is that they are made on demand, unlike many neurotransmitters that sit in vesicles in your brain waiting to be used. Metabolic enzymes run the role of synthesizing endocannabinoids when we need them and breaking them down when they are no longer in use.
How Can CBD Help With Binge-Eating?
One of the hardest parts about quitting any addiction is the cravings. Especially if you are a bored eater, it may seem like your body is constantly telling you it needs food even when it doesn’t. These cravings are your body asking for that dopamine release, and CBD can help regulate your reward system, so the cravings aren’t as severe.
Treat The Actual Issue
Do you binge-eat when you are sad, stressed out, or angry? You may have heard the term, “eating your feelings,” and this is basically what you are doing. Because you have an upset going on in your mind, you crave a happy release that comes easily with food. CBD can help with depression, anxiety, and anger management, helping you treat the problem at its source.
When you eat, your body turns the food into fat. You have brown fat, which can be burned into energy, and then white fat which is stored for energy. You don’t want to get rid of all of the white fat; it’s necessary for your health. White fat not only protects you from the world around you but helps also your immune system and makes your skin healthier.
The brown fat is a little harder to come by in adults. Scientists actually believed for a while that adults didn’t have brown fat because they only found it in children. But brown fat is all around us; your body browns the fat you already have when you exercise or expose yourself to cold temperatures. CBD helps this fat browning process along, making it easier to turn the unwanted fat into burnable energy.
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