As medicinal weed and marijuana delivery becomes legal in more places throughout the United States, it is essential to consider how this may affect the eating disorder community. Cannabis is known for giving people the “munchies,” which raises whether they can use it to treat anorexia nervosa. Is medicinal marijuana a viable therapy option for anorexia nervosa? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
Given the number of individuals afflicted and the implications of untreated anorexia; it is terrible that so little study has been done. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) estimates that 19 million women and 9 million men will experience an eating disorder; with anorexia being one of the most prevalent. The statistics are even more startling among college students: the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 20% of college students have an eating problem. If not addressed, the effects may be devastating. Anorexia has the most significant death rate of any mental disorder (13 percent). Surprisingly, 5% of people commit suicide.
What is Anorexia?
Anorexia nervosa is “a severe, possibly life-threatening eating disorder marked by self-starvation and extreme weight loss;” according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Body dysmorphia (a skewed view of one’s own body), a preoccupation with monitoring calories; and an obsessive desire to control one’s surroundings are frequent symptoms among patients. Individuals’ sense of self-worth is often based on their physical weight and form; and they have difficulty finding enjoyment in things that most people love.
What Causes Anorexia?
Historically, societal variables such as traumatic experiences or family member’s (and society’s) views toward the desire for a thin body and slimness have been blamed for anorexia. In recent years, however, evidence has been presented that supports the involvement of genetics and neurological variables.
Medical Marijuana’s Benefits for Anorexia Nervosa
Medical marijuana has received little research specifically for treating eating disorders; but it is frequently used as an appetite stimulant for people with other serious health problems. It can increase appetite in those suffering from anorexia nervosa, who are often unaware of their natural hunger signals.
It is self-evident that cannabis may aid in the treatment of anorexia. Even so, not only is cannabis known for causing the munchies but studies on weed as an appetite stimulant for cancer patients and HIV/AIDS patients have shown its efficacy. However, there is just a little research available on anorexia nervosa. Only a few states recognize anorexia as a qualifying illness for medicinal marijuana, but many others do, including excessive weight loss, stress, and nausea.
Nonetheless, cannabis as an anorexia therapy is very probable, given the data gathered, anecdotal evidence, and the idea that the endocannabinoid system – the body’s cannabinoid system — has such a strong effect on hunger.
Because faulty regulation and underlying abnormalities within the endocannabinoid system are common in eating disorders, a 2011 Belgian research indicates that creating cannabinoid-derived therapies may be therapeutically beneficial. The research suggests that cannabis may repair endocannabinoid deficits while also assisting the person in regaining their health. However, since this was a small study, further research is needed.
Significant animal research performed by European neuroscientists in 2014 offered another potential reason for why cannabis (or mainly THC) may be helpful in the treatment of anorexia. Anorexia patients lose their capacity to enjoy activities, especially eating. According to the study’s authors; THC’s activation of the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 receptor (one of two known receptors) also increases our sensitivity to odors and tastes.
Human research from Denmark’s Center for Eating Disorders at Odense University Hospital yielded promising results (although, with just 24 subjects, the study was pretty small). Patients were administered either a placebo or dronabinol in this research (a synthetic form of THC). On average, patients who took dronabinol gained 1.6 pounds more than those who took a placebo. According to the scientists, the therapy was “well tolerated,” with “minimal adverse effects”. Researchers also checked up with patients a year after they began treatment and found that they were still improving their symptoms and nutrition while exhibiting no indications of addiction or withdrawal.
According to other previous research, using marijuana may boost a person’s calorie intake by up to 40%. THC, the main chemical component in marijuana; boosts metabolism and, in this research, led to more eating in both communal and private situations.
Increased hunger and snacking habits may be helpful for weight loss and eating disorder recovery in the early stages. It may claim that the calming qualities typically associated with medicinal marijuana could assist with signs of co-occurring anxiety or other problems later on in recovery.
Essential Factors to Think About
Weed delivery in Reseda and throughout California is now at the tip of your fingertips. However, medicinal marijuana’s advantages are still debatable, especially in its usage in the mental health sector. Eating disorders often co-occur with drug addiction, increasing the risk of psychological or physical dependency on medicinal marijuana.
Furthermore, medical cannabis should not be the sole therapeutic option available to a patient. This, like any other drug for the treatment of eating disorders, must be used in combination with counseling; nutritional monitoring, and other measures.
While cannabis may be a helpful alternative therapy for anorexia, it should not be considered a cure-all. It may have some use, but considering the severity of the illness (particularly the high death rates); contacting a professional and mobilizing peer support is essential. Individuals or loved ones affected by anorexia may find helpful online information from two organizations: the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) and the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD).
It is crucial to share your issues with your medical provider to see whether medical marijuana may help your disorder. Please bear in mind that THC has various effects on different people. Tell your team if it is worsening your eating problem or acting as a negative coping strategy in any way.
We can better evaluate the advantages of medical cannabis in the therapy of anorexia nervosa if we encourage further study in this area.