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How Medical Marijuana Can Help for Anorexia Nervosa

August 12, 2017

 (Photo Credit - Angie Vite)

 

One of the common assumptions associated with cannabis consumption is the hunger, a.k.a "the munchies." This characteristic has given many a reason to wonder whether marijuana would be a good treatment for anorexia nervosa, a severe eating disorder. 

 

Related: How Marijuana Can Help Patients with HIV

 

Since medical marijuana is already a widely used treatments for cachexia, which is a wasting syndrome associated with cancer and HIV/AIDS, many have suggested that cannabis could be just as useful for treating anorexia nervosa.

 

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

 

 

While many are familiar with this serious eating disorder, but for those who aren't...here's a brief introduction. Anorexia nervosa is a disorder usually involving severe weight loss. For some growing children, anorexia can mean insufficient weight gain and growth. Those suffering from anorexia tend to have a tough time regarding their body image, and turn to restrictive or volatile diets in order to cope. 

 

There's a common misconception that anorexia only affects women and girls in developed societies. That's completely false. Anorexia can affect men, women and children of all kinds. Regardless of sexual orientation, race, socio-economic status or otherwise...anorexia can affect you. 

 

DSM-5, the diagnostic and classification standards for mental disorders used by doctors and mental health professionals in the U.S., has specific criteria for determining an anorexia nervosa diagnosis:

  1. Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health.

  2. Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight.

  3. Disturbance in the way in which one's body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight.

 

How Common is Anorexia?

 

20 Million women and roughly 10 million men at some point throughout their life, will develop an eating disorder according to the National Eating Disorder Association.  Of all of the eating disorders that one might suffer from, anorexia is by far one of the most common ones.  Sadly, among youth and college students the statistics are even more disheartening. Some estimates put 25% of university students as suffering from an eating disorder.  Of all psychiatric diseases out there, anorexia has the highest rate of mortality at 12.85.  The saddest statistic by far, is that roughly 6% of diagnosed anorexia sufferers commit suicide.

 

Is Marijuana a Viable Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa?

 

 

To many, it seems like cannabis as a way to induce hunger for people that suffer from anorexia is an obvious treatment. With that said, there is not much evidence from studies up to this point to prove this point of view. Anecdotally, for those who have tried it, certain strains of cannabis has worked extremely well as a treatment method.

 

Related: Study Shows CBG Cannabinoid Increases Appetite

 

Even though marijuana may provide a fantastic alternative treatment for anorexia, it shouldn't be viewed as a cure all. Whatever form of treatment that sufferers think is best for them, it is important to speak to a specialist before moving forward. Often, many people self diagnose and self medicate, leading to complications. For those that are self medicating, it is important to remember that dosage, frequency of usage, and more, are all dependent on each person and that often tracking of efficacy can be very useful through a platform such as Strainprint.

 

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