All mammals have an endocannabinoid system. The system helps to govern a series of important bodily functions such as sleep, anxiety, inflammation, stress, hunger, memory, and much more. Cannabis is filled with cannabinoids that interact with our endocannabinoid system and can have an effect on these processes. When your friend smokes cannabis and gets hungry and sleepy, that’s a reaction that is caused by the endocannabinoid system.
THC is the most popular cannabinoid, but CBD is growing in popularity. You can find CBD in everything from edibles to tincture bottles these days, because of regulations that allow the cultivation of hemp but not marijuana. The important distinction here is that hemp does not contain much THC (if any at all). Marijuana is packed with THC, and that’s the cannabinoid that causes a “high.”
While CBD is a popular choice for those who want to avoid the high but get the other effects of cannabis, scientists have cooked up another cannabinoid that mimics CBD in some ways.
Scientists at Artelo Biosciences in California are working on a synthetic cannabinoid that makes patients very hungry but not high.
Artelo CEO Greg Gorgas says the cannabinoid, named ART27.13, could increase cancer patients’ quality of life. He said it may also help HIV patients that lose weight. According to Gorgas, ART27.13 targets endocannabinoid receptors in the stomach, intestines, and esophageal tract.
Other than helping patients get hungry, ART27.13 also helps them retain weight. Preliminary studies have revealed that the synthetic cannabinoid helped patients better store fat from the food they eat, explained Gorgas. ART27.13 tells insulin receptors to create more of the hormone, which may cause weight gain.
ART27.13 is being tested in a small randomized controlled trial. Participants of the study must swallow a capsule with 150 micrograms of ART27.13 every day for 90 days. Their body mass, weight gain, and quality of life will be tracked by researchers throughout the process.
Researchers will also do trials with a 250 microgram dose and a 400 microgram dose to, “achieve a balance between safety and efficacy,” explained Gorgas.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to users of cannabis who have for years taught us the ingestion of cannabis can lead to a stimulation of appetite,” said Gorgas. “I’ve often made the joke, ‘That’s why Taco Bell is open 24/7!'” He claims that he was inspired by watching smokers and cannabis lovers get the munchies, and wanted to duplicate the hunger without the high for patients.