How Medical Marijuana For Anorexia Can Help Restore Appetite Plus Mental Health

By   |  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Shatha Atiya  |  June 10, 2022  

Medical marijuana is therapeutic for a variety of medical conditions, including anorexia. Anorexia is an eating disorder that can be difficult to overcome. Medical marijuana can help increase appetite, often lacking in people with anorexia. Additionally, it can help reduce anxiety and stress, two common symptoms of anorexia. Moreover, medicinal cannabis improves mood and general well-being, a great help for people with anorexia who often struggle with negative thoughts and feelings. With these qualities, medical marijuana can aid anorexic patients on a path to recovery.

woman looking at her reflection

Anorexia–characteristics of anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder typically characterized by abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of one’s body. People with anorexia nervosa often restrict the amount of food they eat and may also engage in binge-eating and purging behaviors. The cause of anorexia nervosa is unclear, but research points towards a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors.

Usually, anorexia nervosa begins in adolescence or young adulthood and is more common in females than males. People with anorexia nervosa are at risk for many serious health complications, for example, malnutrition, heart problems, and bone loss.

Anxiety disorders, OCD, and depression are also common in people with anorexia nervosa. Treatment for anorexia nervosa typically includes cognitive-behavioral therapy, nutritional counseling, and medication. And in severe cases, hospitalization may be required.

Unsure whether you or your loved one may be suffering from anorexia? Consult the DSM-5 anorexia medical definition. (To clarify, you must consult with a healthcare professional if you suspect you or someone close to you is anorexic)

Types of anorexia

There are four main types of anorexia: 

  • atypical anorexia,
  • avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), 
  • anorexia athletica, 
  • and anorexia nervosa restricting type. 

Atypical anorexia manifests as irregular eating habits and a fear of gaining weight, but without the unhealthy obsession with calories and weight found in other types of anorexia. 

Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is evident by avoidance of specific foods due to a fear of choking or vomiting and can lead to malnutrition.

Anorexia athletica is a type of anorexia common in athletes. Those affected show an obsessive focus on exercise, negatively impacting physical and mental health.

Anorexia nervosa restricting type is the most severe form of anorexia. Affected patients demonstrate strict dieting, severe restriction of calorie intake, excessive exercise, and a preoccupation with weight and body image. People with this type of anorexia typically have very low body weight and BMI. Regardless, all forms of anorexia are far-reaching and can have devastating consequences.

Disordered eating

scrabble letters spelling anorexia, bulimia, and eating disorders

Disordered eating is a broad term that describes any abnormal or unnatural relationship with food. Disordered eaters may do things like skipping meals, binge eating, purging, excessive exercise, and more. While disordered eating is often tied to negative body image and low self-esteem, it can also be a symptom of underlying psychological issues such as anxiety and depression. Anorexia is one of the most well-known forms of disordered eating, but it is far from the only one.

Types of disordered eating

Other types of disordered eating include:

  • night eating syndrome, 
  • compulsive eating disorder, 
  • restrictive eating disorder, 
  • selective eating disorder, 
  • and bulimia. 

Night eating syndrome, for instance, involves late-night bingeing and waking up feeling uncomfortably full. While disordered eating can have serious consequences, early intervention and treatment can help disordered eaters develop healthier relationships with food.

Anorexia medication & other treatment options

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that can be difficult to overcome without professional help. If you are struggling with anorexia, there are several treatment options available. 

The tight grip of anorexia can be paralyzing, consuming your every thought with a relentless obsession with weight and body image. As much as we all wish that we could just “snap out of it,” the reality is that anorexia is a severe disorder that requires the assistance of a qualified healthcare professional.

However, for those who struggle with excessive exercise, there is a way to monitor and regulate their activity levels. Smart fitness devices can offer a solution, acting as a helpful tool in keeping track of workouts and preventing overexertion. Reading through the instruction manual and familiarizing yourself with the device, you can confidently take steps toward a healthier recovery. Let’s strive for progress, not perfection.

Another form of anorexia treatment is medication. Specialists can prescribe anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, and other psychiatric drugs to help alleviate some of the symptoms of anorexia. While medication can be an integral part of treatment, it’s not a cure-all and should be used in conjunction with other forms of therapy. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is another effective anorexia treatment option. CBT can help individuals challenged by anorexia identify and change the harmful thoughts and behaviors that contribute to the disorder. In addition, CBT may help patients develop a positive body image. For most, CBT is an essential part of long-term recovery from anorexia.

In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary to provide proper medical care. With the right anorexia treatment plan, full recovery is possible.

Medical marijuana for anorexia

Medical marijuana can help patients recover from anorexia by: 

  • boosting appetite and promoting weight gain in patients,
  • reducing nausea and vomiting associated with anorexia, 
  • alleviating anxiety, depression, OCD, and other mental disorders that contribute to anorexia nervosa.
marijuana cookies and flower for anorexia

The therapeutic effects of medicinal cannabis for anorexia emanate from how the chemical compounds in the plant interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating mood, memory, and appetite. 

THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis responsible for making users feel high, increases the hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, then tells your brain to induce the sensation of hunger. Besides stimulating the production of the hunger hormone, THC also interacts with the part of your brain responsible for appetite. Finally, THC also stimulates the production of the feel-good hormone dopamine, which causes you to experience more pleasure while eating.

As aforementioned, anxiety, OCD, and depression are synonymous with anorexia nervosa. Therefore, it is necessary to ease the intensity of these disorders when it comes to anorexia treatment. Plenty of research suggests that marijuana works well to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression while improving mood in users. Even so, other studies suggest that marijuana may aggravate the symptoms of mental disorders. Hence the need to consult with an expert medical marijuana doctor before beginning a cannabis regimen for anorexia or related ailments such as anxiety and depression.

You can talk to an experienced MMJ doctor in just a few steps in the following states for further clarity on cannabis treatment. Additionally, you can get a valid medical marijuana card in the process!

Can CBD help with anorexia?

CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana, is a popular natural remedy frequently used to treat several conditions, including anxiety, pain, and inflammation. However, there is also some evidence to suggest that CBD may be effective in treating conditions like anorexia. 

Interestingly, CBD is associated with weight loss as it boosts metabolism. Still, its other properties, for instance, lowering levels of anxiety and stress, make it a potential option for anorexia. While many consider CBD safe because it is well-tolerated, consulting a cannabis doctor before starting a CBD treatment for anorexia is necessary. Are you looking for organically sourced CBD for your health needs? Consider Keoni CBD for quality 3rd party tested CBD products.

Sativa or Indica for anorexia and anxiety

Finding the cannabis strain that works best for you is a challenging task, and you may have to go through a trial-and-error process. Still, you can get advice from one of our medical marijuana doctors after getting your cannabis card. Alternatively, with your medical marijuana card on hand when visiting a dispensary, you can ask the budtender to help you pick a strain for your ailment. There are primarily three types of cannabis strains.

sativa or indica for anxiety

First are Cannabis Indica strains. These strains are more sedating and influential for conditions like:

  • chronic pain,
  • insomnia,
  • arthritic and rheumatic stiffness and swelling,
  • muscle spasms,
  • tremors,
  • and anxiety.

Secondly are Cannabis Sativa strains. These strains are famous for their energy-boosting properties and stimulating effects. They are effective for conditions like:

  • fatigue,
  • nausea,
  • depression,
  • lack of appetite,
  •  and headaches.

Finally, are Hybrid strains. These strains exhibit both qualities of the Sativa and Indica. 

There are many ways you can consume medicinal cannabis, for instance, edibles, tinctures, oils, sprays, and vaping. We recommend avoiding smoking, as it can irritate your lungs.

Are you looking for a starting point for the best strains for anorexia? Discover the best strains for increasing appetite, best strains for nausea, best strains for anxiety!

How to help someone with anorexia

man spoon-feeding lady

If you think someone you know has anorexia, the best thing you can do is talk to them about your concerns. It’s paramount to be respectful and non-judgmental in your approach. You might say something like, “I’ve noticed that you’ve lost a lot of weight recently, and I’m worried about you.” 

If they are open to talking, try to encourage them to see a doctor or therapist who can help them deal with the underlying issues. And you can go a step further by accompanying them to the doctor’s appointment.

Still, the person may not be ready to talk about their eating habits or may not want to admit they have a problem. If this is the case, try to express your concern differently. For example, you could say, “I really care about you, and I want to help you through this tough time.” 

It’s also important to offer practical support without trying to force the person to change their behavior. You might propose to go for walks together or cook healthy meals together. Remember, it’s imperative to respect the person’s wishes and not try to pressure them. 

If you’re struggling to help someone with anorexia, seek professional help. Although anorexia can be a very difficult condition to overcome, with the right support, recovery is possible.

Facts about anorexia

lady measuring her waist size

How many males suffer from anorexia?

While anorexia may seem like a disorder that only affects females, the National Eating Disorder Association estimates that one in every three people with disordered eating is male. 

Male anorexia often goes undiagnosed because the symptoms can differ from those seen in females. For example, males may be less likely to talk about their eating habits or body image, and they may be more likely to focus on building muscle mass rather than losing weight. As a result, male sufferers often suffer in silence for years before finally getting help. 

Nonetheless, the condition is just as severe in males as in females, and it can have devastating consequences. Male anorexia can lead to organ damage, heart problems, and even death if left untreated. Yet, with proper treatment, male anorexics can make a full recovery.

How common is death from anorexia?

Estimates indicate that 0.56% (one in every 200 people) of individuals with anorexia nervosa will die from the condition annually. While this may seem like a small number, it is actually one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric disorder. Death from anorexia can occur due to starvation, associated medical conditions, or suicide. 

Starvation is the most common cause of death in individuals with anorexia, and it typically occurs when the individual reaches a critically low body weight. Associated medical conditions, such as electrolyte imbalances, can also lead to death. 

Finally, suicide is a significant risk for individuals with anorexia. And about one-quarter to one-third of people with the disorder will attempt suicide at some point in their lives. While death from anorexia is relatively rare, it is still a dangerous condition with potentially fatal consequences. The good news is that death from anorexia is preventable. Early intervention and treatment can significantly reduce the risk of death from anorexia.

What being anorexic feels like

Below is a first-person account of what being anorexic feels like:

It’s not like I set out to become anorexic. It was a slow descent into what felt like oblivion. I stopped eating little by little, at first telling myself that I was being healthy. 

But the weight loss was noticeable, and people started to comment. I began to obsess over what I ate and how many calories I was consuming. I would spend hours at the gym, working out until I was exhausted. But no matter how much weight I lost, it never felt like enough. The need to be thinner consumed me, and my life revolved around food and exercise. My health deteriorated, but I didn’t care. All that mattered was being thin. Eventually, I realized that I had a problem. But by then, it was too late. Anorexia had taken over my life.

How long does it take to beat anorexia?

The road to recovery from anorexia nervosa is a long and difficult one. Many sufferers will face intensive treatment to rebuild their health and learn to eat properly again. 

While there is no single answer to the question of how long it takes to beat anorexia, the process can take months or even years, and relapses are common. For some people, recovery from anorexia nervosa is a lifelong process.

However, with dedication and support, people with anorexia can make a full recovery and lead happy and healthy lives.

What does anorexia recovery feel like?

Those that experience anorexia recovery often describe it as a long and challenging journey full of ups and downs. 

One common theme is that recovery is not simply about “getting better.” It is also about learning to accept and love oneself, even with imperfections. And this can be a challenge, but the rewards of recovery are more than worth the effort. 

Another common theme is that the journey of recovery is never truly over. Even after reaching a point of stability, many people find that they need to continuously work on their relationship with food and their body image. However, it is possible to achieve a happy and healthy life after anorexia with time and effort.

Can you get PTSD from anorexia?

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a condition that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event. While it is most commonly associated with military combat, PTSD can also occur after other types of traumas, such as sexual assault or natural disasters. Anorexia, on the other hand, is an eating disorder characterized by severe weight loss and an intense fear of gaining weight. So, can you get PTSD from anorexia?

It’s possible. For people with anorexia, the trauma can result from the physical and emotional stress of starvation. The intense hunger, for example, can cause anxiety and irritability, while the loss of muscle mass can lead to fatigue and feelings of weakness. In extreme cases, anorexia can also cause paranoia and delusions. 

While PTSD can develop in anyone who has been through a traumatic experience, people with anorexia are especially vulnerable due to the severe toll that the disorder takes on their minds and body. 

Some studies indicate that people with anorexia are more likely to experience symptoms of PTSD than those without the disorder. Owing to the fact that both conditions share some risk factors. For example, a history of trauma or abuse. Additionally, people with anorexia often have difficulty regulating their emotions, making them more susceptible to developing PTSD. However, not everyone with anorexia will go on to develop PTSD. If you’re concerned about your risk, it’s best to talk to a doctor or mental health professional.

Find out how medical marijuana may help with PTSD.

Orthorexia vs anorexia

Orthorexia and anorexia are both eating disorders that can be difficult to differentiate. Both Orthorexia and anorexia patients may exhibit similar behaviors, such as restrictive eating, preoccupation with food, and rigid food rules. However, there are some key distinctions between the two disorders. 

Orthorexia is an obsession with healthy or “pure” eating, while anorexia is primarily a fear of gaining weight. Orthorexic patients often have a very specific idea of what constitutes a “healthy” diet, and they may spend hours planning meals and researching nutrition. 

Anorexic patients, on the other hand, typically focus more on restricting calorie intake and frequently engage in unhealthy weight-loss behaviors such as vomiting or excessive exercise. While both conditions can be punishing, orthorexia may be less likely to result in severe weight loss or malnutrition.

OCD and anorexia

OCD and anorexia may be two very different disorders, but they share a strong link. People with anorexia often display many of the same obsessive behaviors as those with OCD. 

For instance, they may excessively focus on food and weight, count calories obsessively, and engage in other compulsive behaviors such as excessive exercise. There is also a high overlap in the genetic factors that contribute to both disorders. 

Moreover, studies have shown that people with OCD may be more likely to develop disordered eating and vice versa. Further, the fact that both disorders respond well to similar types of treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, supports the link.

Anorexia vs bulimia-difference between anorexia and bulimia

Anorexia and bulimia are two disorders that are often confused because they both involve an unhealthy relationship with food. However, there are some differences between the two conditions. 

Anorexia is synonymous with a severe restriction of food intake, often to the point of self-starvation. Bulimia, on the other hand, involves episodes of binge eating followed by purging, either through vomiting or the use of laxatives. 

Both disorders can lead to serious health problems, but bulimia is typically more damaging to the body due to frequent purging. Anorexia is also more likely to be associated with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Because of these differences, it’s vital to seek treatment specific to the disorder you are suffering from.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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