Cannabinoids and Eating Disorders: Does Cannabis Help?

Cannabinoids and Eating Disorders: Does Cannabis Help?

Do you think that anorexia and bulimia sufferers may benefit from using medicinal marijuana?

Many patients with terminal illnesses turn to cannabis in an effort to stimulate their appetite. Using cannabis to help persons with eating problems is not a new concept, and it makes a lot of sense. Treatment for wasting due to eating disorders, however, differs in important ways from treatment for wasting due to other chronic diseases.

Sautéed garlic and rosemary potatoes.

Can you define anorexia and bulimia?
An unhealthy perspective on food and excessive or inadequate food intake are two of the most distinguishing characteristics of an eating disorder. Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), depression, anxiety, and extreme feelings of guilt, regret, and/or worthlessness are also symptoms. Other symptoms include an unhealthy obsession with weight and body shape, excessive exercise, obsessive dieting, binge eating (sometimes followed by intentional vomiting, or “purging”), and extreme dissatisfaction with one’s appearance.

When malnourished or deprived persons consume too much too rapidly following a fasting period, they might have electrolyte abnormalities due to “refeeding syndrome.” There are then repercussions in the areas of the lungs, heart, muscles, and blood. Long-term effects include an increased risk of stress fractures and Raynaud’s disease, and the possibility for fatality is only one aspect of refeeding syndrome.

Many different forms of eating disorders exist, such as:

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by a persistent obsession with maintaining an extremely low body weight by excessive exercise and/or restriction of food intake.
Losing control of one’s eating habits and consuming an unhealthy amount of food in one sitting is known as binge eating disorder (BED). Usually right after comes remorse and guilt.
Bulimia is characterized by episodes of excessive eating in a short period of time, followed by purposeful attempts to purge the body of the food consumed by vomiting, excessive laxative use, or strenuous exercise.
Even while obesity isn’t necessarily classified as a “eating disorder,” it exhibits many of the same behaviors and characteristics of other eating disorders, such as binge eating and an unhealthy perspective on food. It is not unheard of for a person to alternate between extremes of anorexia and fat.
OSFED is an acronym for “Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder,” and it refers to an eating disorder that exhibits characteristics of more than one of the previously listed disorders. Atypical anorexia, avoidant/restrictive food intake that goes beyond “picky eating,” night eating syndrome, anorexia athletica, and eating disorders connected to type-I diabetes are all examples of OSFED (e.g., deliberate insulin under use to prevent weight gain).
The Numbers on Binge Eating Disorders

Mortality rate per million people due to eating disorders in 2012. Data gathered by the WHO. Vector map of the world based on the 2012 WHO estimated number of deaths, from the compact BlankMap-World6. Canuckguy and others contributed to the SVG format. Source
Roughly 30 million individuals in the United States suffer from some kind of eating problem. Comorbidity with mood, anxiety, and drug use disorders contributes to their high death rate among mental health conditions (especially alcohol).

Many different types of individuals suffer from eating problems. The largest risk categories for anorexia and bulimia are women over the age of 50, teenage females, and women in high-pressure environments like sports. Boys and men are more prone to engage in restrictive eating behaviors. Among US individuals aged 20 and over, 39.6% were obese in 2015-2016, according to a research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This included 37.9% of men and 41.1% of women. There are further potential dangers such as:

Abnormal prenatal nutrition, including under- or overfeeding the fetus. Inadequate nutrition or obesity in mothers is a major risk factor for the development of eating disorders in their children.
The “adiposity rebound” describes the second increase in body-mass index (BMI) that happens between the ages of three and seven. Obesity in middle age is linked to adiposity gain in adolescence.
Malnutrition and/or failure to nurse in infancy might alter a child’s metabolism and cause them to store fat. As a result, they may be more likely to become overweight adults and adolescents. Those who aren’t breastfed are more likely to have growth retardation or rapid growth, both of which may contribute to an early commencement of the adipose rebound. For this reason, it’s not surprising to see obesity with starvation and a lack of food availability in economically deprived regions.
Prednisone and other steroid-based drugs have been linked to increased body fat.
Cachexia: what is it?
While anorexia is generally thought of as being synonymous with cachexia (defined as “weakness and withering of the body owing to severe chronic disease”), this is not always the case. The term “cachexia” refers to a state of extreme weakness and low energy that may be brought on by a wide range of medical issues and therapies. Some people with cachexia have a healthy connection with food but are still affected by the disease that leads them to become underweight and muscle-deficient.

Competitive Weight Loss or Anorexia?
Extreme fastidiousness in food and exercise is frequent in highly competitive contexts like sports and athletics, making eating disorders rare in these fields. Because of their high calorie needs, many athletes also need to learn how to properly portion their food when they are not actively exercising. Eating problems affect athletes of all levels and disciplines.

Some of the world’s most formidable athletes, such as boxers and wrestlers, risk their health by dehydrating, starving, and overtraining in order to compete at their peak. Other types of athletes that may be at risk for developing an eating problem include gymnasts, dancers, figure skaters, weightlifters, bodybuilders, synchronized swimmers, and endurance runners because of the pressures they face to maintain a certain body type.

Running, long-distance, sand, raocks, mountain, sun, endurance, athlete, run, fitness, female, silhouettes, runners, athletes, lonely, joggers, jogging.

May you explain how the use of cannabis can aid those suffering from an eating disorder?
The rationale for utilizing cannabis to treat illnesses like anorexia is well accepted. Cannabinoid-based drugs have been shown to be effective in treating some types of epilepsy, but the idea of using them to treat obesity (and diabetes) is still novel to many. Even after accounting for factors like food, exercise, and alcohol intake, frequent cannabis usage is still associated with a lower body mass index. Studies to far do not confirm that cannabinoids in cannabis assist persons who are overweight or underweight retain a healthy appetite, but there are various plausible explanations for why this may be the case. A few examples are as follows:

Appetite is controlled in part by the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a cannabinoid that has been shown to increase appetite and food consumption.
The synthesis of leptin (which helps control energy balance by decreasing hunger) and ghrelin (the “hunger hormone,” which drives appetite) may be disrupted or dysregulated in people with eating disorders.
Both ghrelin and leptin plasma levels rise when HIV-positive males consume cannabis. Particularly, it seems that THC has this impact.
Though short-term effects of THC on the appetite are well-documented, chronic usage may reduce CB1 receptor sensitivity and the subsequent suppression of hunger signals.

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