Metabolic syndrome is an epidemic in many countries of the Western world. It’s a precursor to painful and debilitating conditions like diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease. Having it is also a risk factor for suffering from a stroke or a heart attack. So it’s no wonder people are looking for ways to prevent, manage and treat it. From lifestyle changes to medication and supplements, many things may help with metabolic syndrome. In this article, we will take a closer look at CBD, a natural cannabis derivative that shows some serious potential in helping those with metabolic syndrome.
What is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that often come together and can have disastrous effects on your health. They are:
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar levels
- High triglyceride or cholesterol levels
- Excess fat around the waist
If you have three or more of these conditions, then you’re considered as having metabolic syndrome. And you wouldn’t be the only one! According to the American Heart Association, 23% of U.S. adults live with this syndrome.
This is a serious public health concern, as people with metabolic syndrome are a lot more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease or a stroke.
What are the five signs of metabolic syndrome?
Some symptoms of metabolic syndrome are easy to diagnose. You will know straight away if you have excess fat around your waist, for example. But others require a medical diagnosis. Here’s how doctors evaluate the five signs of metabolic syndrome:
- Waist circumference: there are no real guidelines for how wide your waist should be. However, doctors can measure your waist and compare it to your weight and age to assess whether you are carrying an abnormal amount of fat around that region.
- Cholesterol levels: you will need to take a blood test to check whether you have too much of the bad cholesterol.
- High blood pressure: this is something a doctor will check during any check-up. High blood pressure is a serious risk factor for heart disease, so it’s something you need to check regularly.
- Triglycerides levels: to evaluate your triglycerides levels, you will need to take a blood test while fasting. Having too much of this type of fat in your blood puts you at risk for diabetes, and it’s a key risk factor of metabolic syndrome.
Blood sugar levels: again, you will need a fasting blood test. If you have excess sugar in your blood, it’s a sign that your body is not using insulin correctly. In itself, this is a risk factor for developing diabetes.
What are the five risk factors for metabolic syndrome?
Anyone can develop metabolic syndrome with an inappropriate diet and lifestyle. However, some people are especially at risk, and need to watch out for the five signs of metabolic syndrome. The five risk factors of metabolic syndrome are:
The older you get, the more your risk of getting metabolic syndrome increases.
You’re much more likely to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if you are overweight, particularly if your BMI is in the obese range.
Some people are naturally predisposed to having metabolic syndrome. If elderly people in your family tend to be obese, this could be a sign. If you have a family history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, these are also risk factors.
People who don’t exercise and eat a lot of processed food are at a much higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Smoking cigarettes is also a risk factor.
There are a couple of conditions that could make you more likely to have metabolic syndrome. For example, people with PCOS, sleep apnea or diabetes are in a risk group.
What do you risk if you have metabolic syndrome?
If you’re diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, your prospects may look rather bleak. Having this syndrome puts you at a higher risk of getting:
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Kidney disease
- Heart attacks
Unless you manage to get rid of at least a few of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome, you will be considered a risk group for all of the conditions and risks above.
Is metabolic syndrome reversible? Treatment options and therapies
The good news is that metabolic syndrome is reversible. People with a few or even all of the five signs of metabolic syndrome have managed to reverse their diagnosis. This often takes many months or years of careful lifestyle changes, however, and may also involve medical intervention.
Doctors can prescribe medicine that keeps your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar in check. A daily dose of aspirin is also said to reduce your risk of stroke and heart attacks.
But the best way to reverse metabolic syndrome is to adopt a healthier lifestyle: eat less, eat more whole foods, avoid animal fats, get enough fruit and vegetables, exercise a few times a week and walk more.
Other natural therapies that may be effective against metabolic syndrome include fasting, doing juice cleanses and supplementing with antioxidants. Some superfoods like blueberries, goji berries or hemp seeds may also be useful in lowering cholesterol and helping you lose weight.
And then there’s CBD: a cannabis derivative that could help to prevent some of the risks associated with metabolic syndrome, like diabetes and heart attacks. How does it work? And could it really be effective? This is what we will look at in the second part of this article.
What is CBD?
CBD is a molecule, also known as cannabidiol, found in cannabis or hemp. Like other molecules that belong to the cannabinoid class, it has the potential to affect our body by binding with cannabinoid receptors.
The endocannabinoid system is a vast biological system that controls many functions throughout the body: appetite, pain management, inflammation and even metabolism. When we take CBD, it binds with receptors of the endocannabinoid system in such a way that it gives the system a boost. As a result, taking CBD can mean we experience less pain, inflammation, and anxiety, lower blood pressure, better digestion, better mental health and more.
Does CBD affect your metabolism?
Yes, CBD can affect your metabolism in a number of ways.
We know that the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in metabolic functions including using energy or burning fat. This system also controls appetite and may have a role to play in our food intake. So, a molecule like CBD with the power to boost the endocannabinoid system could also boost your metabolism.
To date, there aren’t a lot of studies examining those effects. But the ones we do have are very telling. For example, this 2016 study found that CBD increased the number of mitochondria in your cells, helping to break down fat more easily. As a result, taking CBD could prevent or fight obesity, which is one of the main risk factors of metabolic syndrome.
Could CBD be used to fight metabolic syndrome?
According to research conducted at the University of Budapest, cannabidiol shows potential in treating metabolic syndrome. It could lower appetite, helping people to eat less and fight obesity. CBD also has an “immunomodulating effect,” meaning it affects the working of the immune system. This makes it very effective in treating auto-immune conditions, and it could also prevent atherosclerosis, according to this 2012 study. Finally, the researchers at Budapest University noted that CBD could help prevent certain types of stroke and heart disease, which are the most dangerous complications of metabolic syndrome.
Could CBD prevent metabolic syndrome?
In 2013, a group of American scientists made an interesting discovery: U.S adults who regularly used marijuana had lower rates of metabolic syndrome, obesity and diabetes.
The researchers noted that there weren’t enough other studies to conclude that marijuana lowers insulin resistance. However, there does seem to be a relationship between taking cannabinoids and protection from the most common symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
Is CBD safe for people with metabolic syndrome?
CBD is a very safe substance with few side effects. If you’re simply looking to prevent the onset of metabolic syndrome, then supplementing with CBD could be a simple yet effective way to do so.
Things are a little different if you’ve been prescribed daily medication to manage your metabolic symptoms. If this is the case, then you should definitely consult a doctor before you start taking CBD. Certain medications that have a grapefruit warning shouldn’t be used with CBD. And because CBD also affects your insulin levels, you shouldn’t take CBD alongside any form of artificial insulin without consulting a professional first.
Is CBD effective against metabolic syndrome?
CBD can be used to treat metabolic syndrome, but alone it is certainly not enough. Today, we have quite a few studies that show CBD could help to manage obesity and prevent heart disease and diabetes. However, it is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle.
If you want to address metabolic syndrome, then making lifestyle changes is inevitable. Taking CBD on top of exercising and eating well could make it easier for you to reverse metabolic syndrome… but it won’t do all the work for you!
Can I legally buy CBD?
CBD is legal on a federal level in the United States, as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. However, it is still prohibited by certain state laws and doesn’t have FDA approval. We encourage you to consult a physician before you start taking CBD.
How to take CBD for metabolic syndrome: products and doses
You have metabolic syndrome or a predisposition, you want to start taking CBD to manage it, and you have the okay from your doctor. Great! Now you’ll have to choose between a few different types of products to supplement with CBD.
By far the most popular way to supplement with CBD is to place CBD oil drops under your tongue every day. This is an easy method that makes it easy for your body to absorb it.
If you don’t like the taste of CBD, then you may want to try a capsule or gummy instead. These products are not as easy for your body to absorb, but they do make it easy to take: just pop one every morning with your breakfast, or at night before you go to bed. But be careful: as someone with a predisposition for diabetes, you’ll want to choose products that are sugar-free.
How much CBD should you take each day? It’s hard to generalize on the topic of doses, as it really depends on the age, height, weight and overall health condition of each person. To get an accurate recommendation, you should consult with a health specialist with a background in natural healing or medical cannabis.
One thing we’d recommend is to start low and slow, with doses below 10 daily milligrams. This will give you the opportunity to see how well you are responding to CBD. Taking too much at once could cause changes in appetite, make you sleepy, or even irritable.
CBD can be a powerful tool for people with metabolic syndrome, helping to boost the metabolism, lowering risks of heart disease and stroke and preventing diabetes. Of course, CBD is not a substitute for the lifestyle changes you’ll need to make to reverse or manage metabolic syndrome. But it is a useful supplement that could make you see change faster.
Metabolic syndrome facts and figures
2018 study on the impact of superfoods on metabolic syndrome
CBD and metabolic syndrome
2008 study on the role of the endocannabinoid system in energy metabolism
2016 study on the impact of CBD on metabolism
2012 study on the potential of CBD as treatment for metabolic syndrome
Cannabis and metabolic syndrome
2013 study on the lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome among cannabis consumers
Safety profile of CBD
2017 study on the safety and side effects of CBD