, Volume 223, Issue 1, pp 117–129 | Cite as

Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns

  • Jonathan A. Farrimond
  • Benjamin J. Whalley
  • Claire M. WilliamsEmail author
Original Investigation



Increased food consumption following ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol-induced cannabinoid type 1 receptor agonism is well documented. However, possible non-∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol phytocannabinoid-induced feeding effects have yet to be fully investigated. Therefore, we have assessed the effects of the individual phytocannabinoids, cannabigerol, cannabidiol and cannabinol, upon feeding behaviors.


Adult male rats were treated (p.o.) with cannabigerol, cannabidiol, cannabinol or cannabinol plus the CB1R antagonist, SR141716A. Prior to treatment, rats were satiated and food intake recorded following drug administration. Data were analyzed for hourly intake and meal microstructure.


Cannabinol induced a CB1R-mediated increase in appetitive behaviors via significant reductions in the latency to feed and increases in consummatory behaviors via increases in meal 1 size and duration. Cannabinol also significantly increased the intake during hour 1 and total chow consumed during the test. Conversely, cannabidiol significantly reduced total chow consumption over the test period. Cannabigerol administration induced no changes to feeding behavior.


This is the first time cannabinol has been shown to increase feeding. Therefore, cannabinol could, in the future, provide an alternative to the currently used and psychotropic ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol-based medicines since cannabinol is currently considered to be non-psychotropic. Furthermore, cannabidiol reduced food intake in line with some existing reports, supporting the need for further mechanistic and behavioral work examining possible anti-obesity effects of cannabidiol.


Cannabis Cannabigerol Cannabidiol Cannabinol Phytocannabinoids Feeding Appetite Behavio(u)r 











Analysis of variance


Botanical drug substance


Cannabinoid type 1 receptor


Cannabinoid type 2 receptor








Central nervous system







This research was supported in part by the University of Reading Research Endowment Trust Fund (to JAF). The authors thank Ms. Pam Rummings and her team for technical assistance and GW Pharmaceuticals for the kind gift of purified phytocannabinoids.

Ethical compliance

All procedures were performed in compliance with the requirements of the United Kingdom Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and all other applicable laws and standards in the UK.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan A. Farrimond
    • 1
    • 2
  • Benjamin J. Whalley
    • 1
  • Claire M. Williams
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.School of PharmacyUniversity of ReadingReadingUK
  2. 2.School of Psychology and Clinical Language SciencesUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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