Every weed lover knows exactly how it feels to be hungry. Ravenously so. Insatiably. Cannabis stimulates appetite, and it does so heartily. The “munchies” has folks emptying their refrigerators after marijuana delivery, which makes it a real candidate for treating anorexia nervosa and cachexia, or HIV/AIDS-associated anorexia. Studies have been ongoing for decades now. Results are inspiring.
However, until now, not much research was available for how cannabis would potentially treat anorexia nervosa, an illness of the mind. It is also the most common and famous of all anorexic disorders. This is especially sad, since the National Eating Disorders Association claims as many as 30 million folks develop an eating disorder in their lives. Left untreated, consequences are dire. In fact, they are often fatal.
Statistics are worse among the youth. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, roughly one quarter of college-aged students, or 25 percent of them, has an eating disorder. Of all modern psychiatric conditions, many professionals consider anorexia the deadliest. Suicide is also high among sufferers, with approximately six percent of patients taking their own lives.
What is Anorexia Nervosa?
Anorexia nervosa is a debilitating condition. It is potentially fatal, certainly deadly without treatment. Patients starve themselves, losing dramatic amounts of weight in the process. Body dysmorphia is part of the problem, which dramatically distorts body image. It is a compulsive affliction, obsessive. This permeates all aspects of their lives and environments. Everyday life holds few pleasures. For most, none.
For decades, scientists blamed childhood trauma, societal preference for thin people, peer pressure, and other sociocultural issues for causing anorexia. However, new studies suggest that neurobiological and genetic factors are actually more important, contributing significantly to its development. Every case is different, though. Unique. Each patient has his or her own triggers for anorexia.
Cannabis and Anorexia
With the appetite-boosting effects of cannabis, it seems an obvious choice for treating anorexia. It induces the “munchies,” and it stimulates hunger in cancer and HIV/AIDS patients too. This gives immense validation to its hope. Studies support these observations. Several detailed studies exist, particularly into how cannabis treats the associated symptoms of anorexia, such as anxiety and nausea.
What is more, anecdotal testimony exists, and abundantly. Combined with available research, and the knowledge that our own endocannabinoid system manipulates appetite, it becomes viable to use cannabis as treatment, very plausible. Already the various mechanisms of action of cannabis can help sufferers suffer less; perhaps even overcome their affliction entirely.
What Science Says
In 2011, a study out of Belgium suggested that cannabinoids might prove therapeutically valuable, since all eating disorders stem from imbalances and irregularities within the endocannabinoid system. Published in the Biological Psychiatry Journal, it showed cannabinoids effectively correcting related deficiencies, helping patients in the process. The study was small, however. More study is crucial.
A few years later, in 2014, European neuroscientists published an animal study in Nature. It shows yet another way that tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, specifically, could treat anorexia. Because victims do not enjoy life’s daily pleasures, like eating, THC can help by activating CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system to enhance sensitivity to smell and taste, reactivating joyful pathways.
Then, another study, this one with human participants, appeared in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. Despite its small sample size, there were only 24 subjects, results showed immediate promise. The team administered either Dronabinol, a synthetic THC, or a placebo to participants. Those taking THC gained more weight than those on the placebo, an average of 1.6 pounds more.
The study’s authors noted no adverse side effects. All involved appeared to tolerate the treatment very well. Further, the team followed up with participants for a full year afterward, finding all of them continuing to improve. All were eating more nutrients and were enjoying immense relief from the worst of it, the starvation. None was showing signs of relapse or withdrawal.
Although more study is underway, the relief that cannabis brings to all those who struggle with appetite issues are immeasurable, provable, and experienced by all who try it. Its ability to stimulate appetite is among its most identifiable effects. What is more, edibles are especially enticing. Search “weed delivery near me” for options, but always read reviews, scrutinize products, and ask questions if you need help.