Anorexia & Medical Marijuana

Anorexia is a very serious eating disorder that results in an unhealthy and sometimes life threatening low weight.  Classic features of the disease include, a phobia of being fat, a strong desire to have a perfect figure, bizarre diet habits and restricted food intake. Clinically underweight Anorexia sufferers commonly lose the ability to perceive themselves normally and falsely believe they are fat, and often lose self-control in regard to eating and diet. 20% of Anorexia sufferers die from the disorder if left untreated.

Medical Marijuana is now routinely indicated in Anorexia  by Cannabis Doctors and physicians.  Researchers believe that Cannabinoids, components of Cannabis, tend to balance the activity of Brain receptors that moderate behavior.  Many Anorexia sufferers agree that Medical Cannabis balanced their minds and helped restore healthy eating habits, resulting in a better appearance and more agreeable personality.  

The Pain of Anorexia - Quotes

“I am forever engaged in a silent battle in my head over whether or not to lift the fork to my mouth, and when I talk myself into doing so, I taste only shame. I have an eating disorder.”

-- Jena Morrow, Hollow: An Unpolished Tale

“Kessa ran her fingers over her stomach. Flat. But was it flat enough? Not quite. She still had some way to go. Just to be safe, she told herself. Still, it was nice the way her pelvic bones rose like sharp hills on either side of her stomach. I love bones. Bones are beautiful.”

-- Steven Levenkron, The Best Little Girl in the World

MMJDOCTORONLINE Notes:  Perhaps Jena or Kessa (above) would have different things to say about themselves if they had Cannabinoid therapy for their tough Anorexia conditions. 420 Physicians are ready now to discuss this or other disorders in a Cannabis Consultation.

Medical Marijuana Therapy - Why it Works

Anorexia and Bulimia origins are thought by many researchers and therapists to come from an imbalance in brain chemistry. A study published in Biological Psychiatry provided insight into the brain’s endogenous (own, natural) marijuana neurotransmitter system. Without a doubt, it was found that exogenous (drug) marijuana can certainly affects mood and eating behavior. At the heart of the matter, the normal function of the endocannabinoid system becomes impaired in people with either anorexia or bulimia. The value of this finding cannot be understated.  Medical Marijuana's known beneficial effect for eating disorders now have a scientific foundation

California Medical Doctor on Medical Cannabis and HIV / AIDS

“From working with AIDS and cancer patients, I repeatedly saw how marijuana could ameliorate a patient’s debilitating fatigue, restore appetite, diminish pain, remedy nausea, cure vomiting and curtail down-to-the-bone weight loss.

The federal obsession with a political agenda that keeps marijuana out of the hands of sick and dying people is appalling and irrational. Washington bureaucrats — far removed from the troubled bedsides of sick and dying patients — are ignoring what patients and doctors and health care workers are telling them about real world suffering. The federal refusal to honor public referendums like California’s voter-approved Medical Marijuana Initiative is as bewildering as it is ominous. Its refusal to listen to doctors groups like the California Medical Association that support compassionate use of Medical Marijuana is chilling.

In a society that has witnessed extensive positive experiences with medicinal Marijuana, as long as it is safe and not proven to be ineffective, why shouldn’t seriously ill patients have access to it? Why should an old woman be made to die a horrible death for a hollow political symbol?“

--  Kate Scannell, MD, Co-Director of the Kaiser-Permanente Northern California Ethics Department

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Restrictive food intake
  • Excessive exercise
  • Forced vomiting
  • Perfectionism
  • Psychosis

Physical Symptoms and Complications

  • Osteoporosis
  • Brittle hair / nails
  • Dry / yellowish skin
  • Growth of fine body hair
  • Anemia, muscle wasting, weakness
  • Constipation
  • Slowed breathing / pulse
  • Heart and Brain damage
  • Organ failure
  • Low body temperature
  • Lethargy, low energy
  • Infertility

Many researchers, doctors and patients testify that in their experience, Medical Marijuana has greatly reduced  their Anorexia condition and symptoms.

Facts and Figures

  • 1% of women have severe anorexia
  • 4%  of teens and college women have anorexia.
  • Children don't often get Anorexia
  • Women outnumber men 10 to 1 in the incidence of Anorexia
  • 90% of Anorexia and Bulimia sufferers are women under age 30
  • Western (obese) countries have double the rate of Anorexia as compared to Non-western countries
  • 20% of Anorexia sufferers die without treatment  
  • 98% of Anorexia sufferers survive with treatment

-- Source

Efficacy of Medical Marijuana in Anorexia

Dronabinol, or Cannabidiol was given to Anorexia sufferers over a 2 month period.  On average, the patients gained two pounds in contrast to the normal trend where Anorexia patients continue to lose weight.  Most interestingly, one year after the study, the participants continued to improve their nutritional status without addiction or withdrawal effects, suggesting that Cannabidiol is safe to use in individuals with long-time Anorexia.

-- International Journal of Eating Disorders

Case Study - Medical Marijuana and a College Girl -  Anorexia Phobia Defeated

Claire  is a college student that credits Medical Marijuana for helping her kick a an eating disorder with obsessive calorie counting.   After smoking Medical Cannabis, she got the munchies and chowed down.  Claire found that she could not recall her calorie count the next day.  This meant the drug interacted with a root cause of her particular disorder.


"I felt bad and guilty at first, but noticed I felt good physically and it also felt good to rebel against my harmful thoughts," Claire says. "Since I'd already lost track, I figured it couldn't hurt to go two days without counting, and so I started smoking more regularly and I haven't counted calories since."

  --  Paraphrase of Cosmolitan Magazine article

Marijuana as Medicine: The Research in a Nutshell

Research reported in Psychology Today effectively summarizes the core science of Anorexia disorders.

Scientists discovered that the brain’s Cannabinoid neurotransmitter system was under active in women with Anorexia and Bulimia.  The part of the brain (Insula) that is responsible to coordinate taste and emotional response was operating sub-optimally. In other words,  these women could not fully experience the pleasure of food and developed unusual eating habits and responses.   

This same brain region, the insula, was linked previously to other eating disorder studies.  

These important scientific findings directly support and explain the efficacy of Medical Cannabis in the treatment of eating disorders.

-- Psychology Today, The Connection between Anorexia, Bulimia and Marijuana

Further Reading

Evaluation of oral cannabinoid-containing medications for the management of interferon and ribavirin-induced anorexia, nausea and weight loss in patients treated for chronic hepatitis C virus

Conclusion: Cannabinoid therapy may stabilize weight.

Anorexia of aging in long term care: is dronabinol an effective appetite stimulant? - a pilot study

Conclusions: Dronabinol therapy was well tolerated. Overall, there was a trend in weight gain in participants treated with Dronabinol for 12 weeks. Failure to respond to Dronabinol may indicate increased risk of death.

Comparison of orally administered cannabis extract and delta-9-THC in treating patients with cancer-related anorexia-cachexia syndrome: a multicenter, phase III, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial from the Cannabis-Cachexia-Study-Group

Conclusion: Oral dose administered was well tolerated by these patients with CACS.

Long-term efficacy and safety of dronabinol for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-associated anorexia.

Data supports long-term, safe use of dronabinol for anorexia in patients with AIDS.

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