Many people that are dealing with a chronic condition often wonder about medical marijuana and appetite stimulation. We have all heard about marijuana making your hungry or giving you the “munchies”, but is this true? Fortunately, for many dealing with a chronic ailment medical marijuana can offer appetite stimulation. In this blog we will look at how this works and how this may help you with your medical condition.
Chronic illness and its treatment can lead to a host of other problems, one of which is a loss of appetite. And, a loss of appetite can also occur from more than just physical conditions. It is possible to experience a loss of appetite from several different mental health issues as well. Medical marijuana can create appetite stimulation which is important to treat many chronic conditions.
If you do not treat a loss of appetite patients can have a decrease in energy, immunity, and strength. Some strains of medical cannabis can help boost the appetite of patients suffering from anorexia due to many of these conditions. Our Green Relief Health providers can help you decide which strains and routes will help you feel more like eating. To see if you qualify to become a Maryland or Delaware medical cannabis patient, look at some of the criteria here.
The states of Maryland and Delaware have established several qualifying conditions that allow a provider to certify you to be able to use medical cannabis. Several of the qualifying condition are those that can benefit from medical marijuana appetite stimulation.
Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss (or lack of appropriate weight gain in growing children); difficulties maintaining an appropriate body weight for height, age, and stature; and, in many individuals, distorted body image.
Cachexia or Wasting Syndrome
Wasting syndrome refers to unwanted weight loss of more than 10 percent of a person’s body weight, with either diarrhea or weakness and fever that have lasted at least 30 days. The conditions often associated with wasting syndrome include cancer, AIDS, heart failure, or advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
PTSD and Mental Health
There are many theories as to why individuals with certain mental health issues or PTSD can face eating disorders. One theory is that the trauma directly affects body image or sense of self and leads a person to attempt to modify their body shape to avoid future harm. Another theory is that trauma exposure leads to emotional dysregulation (difficulty managing emotional reactions), which in turn can increase the risk for various types of mental health issues.
What Happens With An Eating Disorder?
Patients experiencing prolonged anorexia or lack of appetite can experience the following symptoms:
- Loss of calcium in the bones (osteopenia) or even bone density (osteoporosis), leading to skeletal damage including tooth loss
- Weakened immune system due to hormonal imbalance
- Shrinkage of brain tissue and a lowering of IQ
- Heart disease
- Low blood pressure
- Dry skin and hair
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Muscle deterioration as the body starts to use muscle tissue for energy
- Depression and anxiety
- Substance abuse
- Fatigue, general lack of energy
- Social withdrawal
- Lowered T-cell count, increasing the risk of infection and disease
How Does Medical Marijuana Help Appetite Stimulation?
Now that we have looked at various conditions that are associated with appetite loss and the problems they may cause, it is time to examine how medical cannabis may be able to help.
Hunger is regulated by certain processes in the body. After you eat, the body produces a substance called leptin, which can suppress the appetite. As leptin decreases, you will become hungrier. If another medication or a physical condition causes an increase in leptin or leptin levels to drop more slowly, you will not feel hunger. For those with anorexia, for example, the neurons slow down or fail to send the message of hunger altogether.
Neurons in the brain also send signals to tell you that you are full after having eaten. When THC is introduced to the system, these neurons slow down and fail to send the message. THC also appears to inhibit the production of the appetite-suppressing leptin.
Medical cannabis tricks your brain into telling you that you are hungry. For patients who are suffering from a lack of appetite, this can help them maintain nutrition during their illness.
How Nausea and Vomiting Are A Part Of Medical Marijuana Appetite Stimulation
Another area medical marijuana can help with appetite is with nausea and vomiting. Clearly, if you are not feeling good and constantly feel nauseous, you are not very likely to want to eat. People may experience nausea and vomiting symptoms from a wide range of medical conditions or medications. One of the most common illnesses associated with nausea and vomiting is cancer. Many of the drugs used to fight cancer are very strong and can have intense nausea side effects for many patients.
Nausea and vomiting after eating can create incredibly strong food aversions. This biological mechanism is designed to protect people from eating poisonous or spoiled foods. If you eat something and you do not feel well afterwards, you are likely to avoid that food in the future.
This is particularly problematic for cancer patients, who may be very ill after therapy. Food aversions may be particularly strong and may extend to a wide range of foods.
Some evidence suggests the endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating vomiting and nausea. The endocannabinoid system is how all cannabinoids like THC that is found in marijuana are processed in the body. It is a complex network of receptors throughout the body including in the brain, digestive system, nervous system, and more. It works by helping the body maintain balance.
Medical marijuana can help alleviate nausea and vomiting symptoms by activating receptor sites of the endocannabinoid system, which in turn can prevent food aversions from developing.
Medical Marijuana Appetite Stimulation Takeaways
Medical marijuana is useful for appetite stimulation for many individuals. While each person’s diagnosis is unique, if you have a condition that is causing you a lack of appetite than medical can may help. The best way to find out if medical cannabis might be effective for you is to speak with a certifying medical cannabis provider. A provider that is trained in cannabis will be able to better help you understand if medical marijuana may be the appropriate course and if you meet Maryland or Delaware’s qualifying conditions list. Medical cannabis can help ease pain and anxiety, re-establish balance in your body’s systems, and enable you to cope with your health issues more effectively. It is worth talking with a medical marijuana provider soon to see if it could help you deal with eating issues and stimulate your appetite.