How CBD affects metabolism is complex because metabolism is more than just calories in versus calories out.

“Metabolism” is a word often used in weight management as a way to describe how quickly you use the calories you take in from foods. While converting food to energy is a part of metabolism, it’s just one of many metabolic processes in the body.

Metabolism is responsible for regulating energy usage at the cellular and systemic levels. It breaks down and builds up complex molecules and maintains metabolic pathways — the chemical reactions that help with molecule conversion.

All of these processes release, regulate, and create energy within the body, and they change as needed to maintain balance (homeostasis). Metabolism is necessary to sustain life.

Cannabidiol (CBD), one of hundreds of compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant, may affect your metabolic processes in more ways than one.

CBD is one of many bioactive compounds in the Cannabis sativa plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it doesn’t have psychoactive properties and won’t cause a “high” or distort your perception.

CBD may affect your metabolism in different ways.

Endocannabinoid system (ECS) energy balance

Humans and other mammals naturally make cannabinoids called endocannabinoids. These lipid-based neurotransmitters activate cannabinoid receptors in cells and start various processes in the body related to:

As a cannabinoid compound, CBD affects your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), binding to the same receptor sites as your naturally-made endocannabinoids.

According to a research review from 2022, cannabidiol has an anorexigenic effect on the ECS, meaning it suppresses appetite and leads to lower food consumption.

Other cannabinoids, like THC, can have the opposite effect. THC is used in some therapies as a way to stimulate appetite and increase food intake.

Adipose tissue modulation

Your metabolism is involved when you convert fat to energy. A study from 2016 found CBD had potential “browning” effects on white adipose tissue, the type of fat tissue in the body that stores energy.

White adipose tissue’s counterpart is brown adipose tissue. While white adipose tissue stores energy, brown adipose tissue burns energy as a way of keeping the body warm.

A 2022 study suggests CBD may offer protective features for adipose tissue stem cells, reducing their exposure to inflammation and damage that could contribute to certain metabolic disorders.

Improved glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity

Glucose and insulin are interconnected in your metabolic system. Insulin is a hormone that regulates glucose, also known as your blood sugar. Glucose is the primary source of energy in your body.

A growing body of research suggests CBD may improve how your body uses glucose and how well it responds to insulin.

A rodent study from 2022, for example, found CBD improved the absorption of glucose within adipose cells, which was associated with antioxidant benefits and an improved balance between blood sugar levels and fat levels in the body.

Inflammation reduction

Your metabolism influences inflammation in your body by producing metabolites, molecules that can trigger an immune response.

In addition to other anti-inflammatory properties associated with CBD, CBD may help reduce inflammation in the body through its effects on the ECS, which plays a role in immune reactions.

For example, a 2023 study in rodents found CBD might be effective for improving metabolic functions and neuroinflammation caused by maternal obesity.

When you take CBD by mouth, the process of metabolism starts in your stomach. This is where molecules get broken down and passed into the intestinal tract. From there, nutrients are absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the intestinal lining.

From the bloodstream, CBD travels to the liver, where enzymes convert it into metabolites for use within the ECS.

If you take CBD by inhaling it, such as through a vape, the CBD bypasses the digestive system and enters the bloodstream through the lungs.

What organ metabolizes CBD?

CBD is a lipid-based compound and is metabolized by the liver with other lipids and amino acids. The pancreas, while also an important metabolic organ, primarily works to break down carbohydrates and is not directly involved in CBD metabolism.

How long does CBD take to metabolize?

How long CBD remains in your body depends on how you take it.

It’s believed that within 2–5 days, half of the ingested CBD becomes metabolized by the body. This symbolizes oral CBD’s “half-life.” Based on the half-life, it may take 10 days or longer to fully metabolize oral CBD.

The half-life of smoked CBD is around 31 hours, and oromucosal spray’s half-life is between 1.4 and 10.9 hours.

CBD is usually taken by mouth. In other forms, like those that are inhaled, bioavailability lessens. Bioavailability is how much of a substance your body can absorb or use.

Many different formulations are available. You can purchase CBD in liquid, capsules, gummies, and dissolvable powder and combine it with other supplements.

Following label instructions and speaking with your doctor before starting CBD can help ensure you’re using it as safely as possible.

Because CBD is metabolized by the liver, incorrect dosing or using CBD with existing liver conditions can cause adverse effects.

CBD metabolism in the body depends on how you take it. When ingested regularly, CBD can take upward of 10 days to be fully metabolized.

How CBD affects your metabolism during that time is diverse. As a cannabinoid compound, CBD influences your ECS, the natural pathway of cannabinoid receptors in your body.

Through this connection, CBD’s metabolic effects can include appetite suppression, adipose tissue browning, improved glucose and insulin functionality, and reduced inflammation.

While the research on CBD is promising, more human studies are needed to fully understand how CBD affects metabolic processes and what that means for your health.