If you have ever tried cannabis, you likely know all about the “munchies.” An insatiable hunger that empties refrigerators in record time. The fact that marijuana causes this side effect begs the question: Can it treat eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa? Scientists have been studying the effects of weed on cancer- and HIV/AIDS-associated anorexia, or cachexia, for decades already.
However, little research exists on whether cannabis would treat the most famous anorexia, that being nervosa, a disease of the mind. This is sad considering the number of people affected and the consequences of leaving it untreated. The National Eating Disorders Association says up to 30 million people develop eating disorders during their lives, of which anorexia is the most common.
Among the youngest clients for weed delivery in Los Angeles, statistics are even worse. The National Institute of Mental Health claims that 25 percent of college-going students have some eating disorder or other. Consequences are fatal for those who do not get treatment. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says anorexia is the deadliest of all psychiatric diseases, and six percent of sufferers take their own lives.
Understanding Anorexia Nervosa
This is a very serious eating disorder. It is potentially fatal, with patients losing excessive weight by starving themselves. They also suffer body dysmorphia, a distorted body image. They count calories obsessively, and many have a compulsive need to control all aspects of their environment. Patients measure their self-worth from their body shape and weight and take little pleasure in everyday life.
Experts believed that the cause of anorexia to be childhood trauma. However, recent studies are showing the massive role that genetics and neurobiological factors can play in developing this condition. For individuals, each case is vastly different from the next.
Anorexia and Medical Marijuana
It seems obvious that cannabis would treat anorexia most effectively. Not only is it famous for inducing the “munchies,” but scientific evidence proves it also stimulates appetite in HIV/AIDS and cancer patients. This validates its potential significantly, but there remains a notable lack of studies into treating anorexia nervosa specifically. Only a handful of studies exist, and most states do not consider anorexia a condition that even qualifies for cannabis therapy, only its associated nausea, anxiety, and weight loss.
Despite this, given the abundance of anecdotal testimonies, the little research available, and the fact that the body’s own endocannabinoid system exerts such influence on appetite, using it as treatment is more than plausible. Several mechanisms of action that medical marijuana can induce in the body show enormous promise in treating this disease.
According to the Biological Psychiatry Journal, a 2011 study out of Belgium suggests that since all eating disorders come with irregularities and imbalances within the endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids might prove valuable therapeutically. The study showed cannabinoids helping to correct deficiencies occurring in this system, helping individuals in the process. However, the study itself was very small, prompting the need for further research.
Anorexia and THC
Then, in 2014, neuroscientists in Europe published the results of an animal study in the journal Nature. It offers yet another way marijuana, or more specifically THC, might treat anorexia. Sufferers find little enjoyment from daily activities, particularly from eating. The study showed how THC activates CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. These receptors increase sensitivity to taste and smell, thereby reactivating associated pleasure pathways.
The International Journal of Eating Disorders published the results of another study, this one in humans. Its results were extremely encouraging, but with just 24 participants, its sampling size was tiny. Researchers gave patients a placebo or a synthetic THC called dronabinol. Those consuming the THC gained on average 1.6 pounds more weight than those taking the placebo.
The research team noted a few adverse effects, concluding the treatment well tolerated by all involved. Additionally, they followed up with patients a full year after they started THC therapy and found all of them still improving. They were enjoying improved nutrition and notable relief from symptoms, all without showing any signs of withdrawal or addiction.
Santa Monica Weed Delivery
Although more research is necessary, it seems clear that cannabis has a huge role to play in the therapeutic treatment of anorexia nervosa. The only way to know for sure if it will work for you is to try it yourself. You can order weed delivery in Los Angeles or anywhere in California, provided you are at least 21-years of age or have a letter of recommendation for cannabis from your physician.