Explorative Placebo-Controlled Double-Blind Intervention Study with Low Doses of Inhaled Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Reveals No Effect on Sweet Taste Intensity Perception and Liking in Humans

Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017 Jun 1;2(1):114-122. doi: 10.1089/can.2017.0018. eCollection 2017.


Introduction: The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays an important role in food reward. For example, in humans, liking of palatable foods is assumed to be modulated by endocannabinoid activity. Studies in rodents suggest that the ECS also plays a role in sweet taste intensity perception, but it is unknown to what extent this can be extrapolated to humans. Therefore, this study aimed at elucidating whether Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD) affects sweet taste intensity perception and liking in humans, potentially resulting in alterations in food preferences. Materials and Methods: In a randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study, 10 healthy males participated in three test sessions that were 2 weeks apart. During the test sessions, participants received THC-rich, CBD-rich, or placebo Cannabis by inhalation divided over two doses (4 + 1 mg THC; 25 + 10 mg CBD). Participants tasted seven chocolate milk-like drinks that differed in sugar concentration and they rated sweet taste intensity and liking of the drinks. They were then asked to rank the seven drinks according to how much they liked the drinks and were offered ad libitum access to their favorite drink. In addition, they completed a computerized food preference task and completed an appetite questionnaire at the start, midway, and end of the test sessions. Results: Inhalation of the Cannabis preparations did not affect sweet taste intensity perception and liking, ranking order, or ad libitum consumption of the favorite drink. In addition, food preferences were not influenced by the interventions. Reported fullness was lower, whereas desire to eat was higher throughout the THC compared to the CBD condition. Conclusions: These results suggest that administration of Cannabis preparations at the low doses tested does not affect sweet taste intensity perception and liking, nor does it influence food preferences in humans.

Keywords: cannabidiol; food preferences; phytocannabinoids; sweet taste; tetrahydrocannabinol.