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Can Cannabis Help with Eating Disorders like Anorexia?

Can Cannabis Help with Eating Disorders like Anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa is a deadly eating disorder that afflicts countless people around the world. In Canada alone, up to 1% of females experienced anorexia in 2020. For a mental health condition that is so prominent and poses such risk, efficient and effective treatment is imperative.

And while there are promising therapies and medications that benefit individuals living with anorexia, some cases may require additional treatment. One solution? The vast array of quality medical marijuana in Canada.

Recognized for its many therapeutic components, medical marijuana provides an abundance of positive effects, both mental and physical. Being that it is such a complex disorder, it comes as no surprise that a plant as dynamic as cannabis could help treat anorexia.

What is Anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa is a multifarious eating disorder with no single known cause. While many symptoms and patterns are exhibited by individuals with anorexia, no two cases are exactly alike. As such, the need for a wide selection of both curative and supportive treatments is crucial.

Anorexia can be recognized by a number of common symptoms that include restrictive eating habits, low caloric intake, body dysmorphia, and obsessive behaviours around food and exercise, often accompanied by severe weight loss.

Unlike anorexia-cachexia, a variant of anorexia that mainly affects appetite and metabolism, anorexia nervosa is primarily considered a mental health concern.

In fact, in many cases, these aspects are central to the disorder. It’s about more than weight loss. Anxiety, depression, and a need for control can play just as significant a role. Again, there is no exact cause for anorexia. While science has shown genetics can influence the disorder, social factors, instability, and trauma can also play a role.

Can Medical Marijuana in Canada Help Treat Anorexia?

Over the past several decades, there has been a notable rise in research into the potential of cannabis as a treatment for anorexia. Systemic reviews show that, despite great interest and research into cannabis as a treatment for anorexia nervosa, no foolproof treatment has been found using medical marijuana in Canada.

However, scientists agree that further research at a larger scale is an absolute necessity, given the potential demonstrated by the results. A recent pilot study concluded that THC demonstrated promise as a complementary treatment for the psychological symptoms of anorexia. This includes depression, anxiety, compulsive behaviours, and appetite loss.

Focusing largely on appetite, the study takes into account both physical and mental factors of anorexia. As one’s BMI drops, their metabolism concurrently slows down, further increasing caloric restriction. Cannabis can stimulate both appetite and metabolism, making food more desirable from both a mental and physical standpoint.

As THC interacts with the endocannabinoid system, it causes the release of specific hormones and proteins that increase hunger. Concurrently, the mental effects of cannabis enhance sensations of desire and pleasure, encouraging patients to consume the nutrients their bodies require.

Further to the appetite-related aspects of anorexia, depression and anxiety are common. As evidenced by various studies, medical marijuana contains powerful mood-boosting components. This can prove beneficial for those fighting depression in tandem with anorexia, as it can minimize skewed body image, compulsive behaviour, and even suicidality.

A Case for Cannabis and Anorexia

Medical marijuana in Canada is recognized for its near-endless value and benefits. Whether mental or physical, cannabis can complement treatment for many ailments including anorexia. And for a disorder that comprises both the mental and the physical side of things, it’s encouraging to know this powerful plant holds so much potential.

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