Information about Anorexia:
Anorexia is no laughing matter. It is a serious eating disorder that affects millions of people and can lead to death.
Anorexia impacts a person’s ability to desire and enjoy food. It is often treated by psychological medications and counseling. Unfortunately, these therapies do not provide relief from the crippling biological symptoms of anorexia – lack of appetite.
Marijuana is well known for its ability to stimulate appetite, but not always in a good way. When combined with CBD oil, those with anorexia can safely increase their appetite, treat their related anxieties, and lower their risk of ‘getting high.' This article explains the basics of THC for anorexia and how CBD oil can be used with it.
What is Anorexia
More precisely known as anorexia nervosa, anorexia is an eating disorder. Eating disorders affect tens of millions of men and women across the globe. In the United States, a high number of college students have anorexia – as many as 25 percent. Anorexia is the most common eating disorder and the most well-known one as well.
Unfortunately, anorexia is also the deadliest. It is more likely than any other psychiatric disease to cause death, with a shocking mortality rate of around 12.8 percent. 6 percent of people suffering from anorexia commit suicide. It is a disease that is gravely serious and unfortunately understudied, especially when it comes to treatment.
If left untreated, anorexia may lead to organ damage. The kidneys, brain, and heart are at particular risk for damage. Blood pressure, pulse, and breathing rates could lower, hair could begin to be lost there could be irregularities in the heartbeat. Even bones can start to thin (also called osteoporosis), and there could be a fluid-electrolyte imbalance. In time, death from starvation could occur.
What are the symptoms of Anorexia
The key features of anorexia nervosa are self-starvation and extreme loss of weight. It leads to the patient having very low body weight, a distorted perception of their body image, and obsession over calorie counting and controlling the environment around them. Self-worth also takes a major hit with anorexia, since the patient bases their self-worth on the weight and shape of their body, making it difficult to enjoy life in a lot of cases.
The following symptoms are common in cases of anorexia:
- Self-starvation (not eating)
- Rapid weight loss
- Extremely low body weight
- Body dysmorphia (distorted perception of body image)
- Obsession over calorie counting
- Intense fear of gaining weight
- Obsessive need to control surrounding environment
- Low self-worth
- Odd eating habits (i.e. eating alone routinely)
- Overly perfectionistic and self-critical
- Irritability, depression, or anxiety
- For females, missed periods or irregular periods
- Use of diet pills, diuretics, or laxatives
- Often ill
- Wearing loose clothing (to hide the weight loss)
- Exercising compulsively
- Socially withdrawn
- Brittle nails and hair
- Yellowing or dry skin
- Tooth decay
- Low tolerance of cold weather
- Swollen joints
- New growth of thin hair over the body
What Causes Anorexia
Generally speaking, the development of anorexia has always been blamed on sociocultural factors. This includes childhood trauma, attitudes of the person’s culture and society towards being thin (and how it makes you desirable), and the influence of family members and peers.
Additional factors that could lead to anorexia are feelings of stress or being overwhelmed. Low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, anger, anxiety, loneliness, and other such feelings can also help cause the development of anorexia. People with backgrounds in troubled relationships or a history of being teased for their looks may also be more likely to develop anorexia.
More recently, however, it has become understood that there is a lot more involved. Genetics can play a big role, as can neurobiological factors. Changes in hormones can also be a cause because they affect a body and mind’s maintenance of appetite, mood, memory, and thinking patterns.
Ultimately, a thorough understanding of the exact cause of anorexia nervosa remains unknown. Most likely, it is a combination of the above factors.
Conventional treatment for Anorexia
Anorexia is an extremely difficult ailment to treat. Part of the reason behind that is that the patients usually deny that they have a problem at all. Alternatively, they may simply be afraid of gaining too much weight, making it a roadblock to achieving a normal, healthy weight once again. Each patient needs their own treatment plan to work for them.
Psychotherapy, medication, nutrition counseling, group or family therapy, and hospitalization are all examples of common treatment options. Psychotherapy works to change thinking patterns and behavior to lead to a healthier attitude about weight and food, as well as healthier stress response.
Medication can include some antidepressants, a few of which are used simultaneously to help with sleep and appetite. Of course, antidepressants come with their fair share of side effects. Other medications are sometimes involved as well.
Nutrition counseling helps a patient gain a healthier approach to weight and food, develop healthier and more “normal” eating habits, and learn about how to have a nutritional diet and why that’s important. Group or family therapy is just how it sounds: it helps the family or other people close to the patient. They learn how to recognize the symptoms and warning signs as well as provides a kind of support group for them.
Hospitalization is used in very severe cases, especially those that have been left untreated for an extended period of time. Malnutrition and other complications (like heart disorders or major depression and a risk of suicide) can also cause people to need to be hospitalized.
Ultimately, these treatment options vary in their effectiveness, and sometimes they simply don’t work at all for some people.
Effects of Anorexia
We know that medical marijuana has an effect on patients with anorexia. However, research is sadly lacking, and just a few states in the United States actually consider anorexia nervosa a qualifying condition to be treated with medical marijuana of some kind.
That said, there are a much wider number of states that consider other ailments to be qualifying conditions, such as nausea, weight loss, and anxiety. Since these often go hand in hand with anorexia, patients are sometimes able to get access to the medical marijuana they need this way.
Ultimately, it looks very likely that cannabinoids would have a significant effect on patients suffering from anorexia, due in no small part to the fact that our endocannabinoid system has such a strong connection with our appetite.
Smoking marijuana for anorexia
It may seem obvious that smoking marijuana would help with anorexia because it stimulates appetite. Even smoking recreational marijuana can make a big difference.
The reasoning behind it is this: patients with anorexia have lost the ability to enjoy certain activities and get pleasure from them (eating, for example). THC increases the pleasure derived from eating because it makes a person’s smell and tastes more sensitive. This is because THC activates the CB1 receptor of the endocannabinoid system. In short, smoking marijuana could potentially make anorexia patients enjoy eating again.
Marijuana as treatment for anorexia
One Belgium study found that people with eating disorders are likely to have an imbalanced or dysfunctional endocannabinoid system. This means that the cannabinoids in marijuana could help balance and correct the endocannabinoid issues found in people with eating disorders. Of course, more research is clearly needed to support these findings.
This study was done in 2011 and studied 14 female anorexia patients and 16 female bulimia patients, so future studies, of course, need to be done that involve more patients as well as both genders to really understand the goings on behind the endocannabinoid system and anorexia.
Another study, this one using animals, found that marijuana (or, specifically the THC found in marijuana) can help anorexia patients in other ways. People suffering from anorexia have lost something crucial in healthy eating habits: they have lost the ability to enjoy eating food. They simply don’t get the same pleasure from it that they used to, making it harder and harder to eat again.
The animal study (done in 2014) found that THC increases this pleasure from eating because it heightens the sensitivity to smells and taste. In other words, THC can make an anorexia patient like eating again. Of course, more studies need to be done (especially ones that include human subjects), but it still sheds some light on the possibilities of how medical marijuana can help anorexia patients, and not just from a physical standpoint.
CBD oil to treat anorexia
Anorexia may be linked to an endocannabinoid deficiency, and CBD oil is a handy way to get a healthy dose of the cannabinoid. Add CBD oil to foods, or consume items infused with CBD oil already. CBD oil can be consumed in a variety of ways to suit your lifestyle and needs.
Many people have gone public with their use of cannabis to help heal from anorexia. Those with anti-anxiety drugs or antidepressants can feel better in the short-term, but that does not help with the lifestyle and other issues that need to be dealt with. When used with an anorexia treatment that includes THC, CBD oil can help balance the psychoactive effects of its counterpart cannabinoid. When you aren’t worried about “being high” it's much easier to adopt a medical marijuana treatment regimen.
Grow your own marijuana to treat anorexia
Marijuana is an excellent treatment for those with anorexia. Growing strains of marijuana that are geared toward stimulating appetite and reducing anxiety, such as Cheese strain, Chocolope strain and Trainwreck stain are a practical way to have a constant supply of medicine. Balance this with a high CBD strain or some CBD oil.
Growing marijuana makes a lot of sense for many people because it lets them know exactly where their “medication” is coming from. It allows anorexia patients to have access to an effective appetite stimulant whenever they need it most.
Anorexia can worsen when you least expect it, so having your own supply at any given moment will make life a lot easier – Plus, you’ll know exactly what you’re taking. There are a variety of strains available to grow for anorexia treatment - grow one or grow several to see what works best for you!
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