By Dr. François Halle, Cannabinoid Therapy Specialist
The root cause of anorexia nervosa, known simply as anorexia remains a mystery to the medical community. For decades researchers have tried to prove there is a genetic component or pinpoint a specific cultural trigger. The general consensus is that the disorder usually begins with a specific traumatic incident and is more prevalent in cultures in which higher value is placed on being thin. While traditional treatment has focused on intense counselling and nutritional reprogramming, medical cannabis has proven to be effective in treating several symptoms associated with anorexia.
Medical Cannabis and Anorexia
Tetradydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive compound in cannabis is effective at stimulating hunger and increases the pleasure felt when eating (Cota, et al., 2003). In a double-blind study, THC has also shown to increase average weight gain compared to a placebo (Andries, et al., 2014). THC has also shown to significantly stimulate appetite in patients that have cachexia related to cancer (Nelson, Walsh, Deeter & Sheehan, 1994), (Jatoi, et al., 2002) and (Nauck & Klaschik, 2004). In addition, it has demonstrated effective at increasing appetite and stabilizing body weight in AIDS-cachexia patients (Beal, et al., 1995). The decayed product of THC (CBN) has also shown to increase appetite, which suggests it could assist in the treatment of cachexia and anorexia, and help improve eating desires in those with anorexia nervosa, cancer or HIV/AIDS (Farrimond, Whalley & Williams, 2012).