Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for millenia, the earliest texts document that since as early as 2700 BC. It was only during the late 19th century and beginnings of the 20th that the whole world began prohibiting the consumption of cannabis. Thankfully, in the last decade the legal restrictions on marijuana have been taken a step back and every year more and more countries are decriminalizing its use for recreational and also medicinal purposes. Among those medicinal uses, cannabis could be used to help with eating disorders. In this article we will take a look at what eating disorders are and how cannabis can help treat them.
Understanding Eating Disorders:
Eating disorders are multifaceted conditions that involve a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Individuals with eating disorders often experience disturbances in psychological well-being, eating behavior and body image perception. These conditions can have severe physical and mental consequences, impacting an individual's overall quality of life.
Disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder affect a significant number of individuals worldwide and aren't yet properly addressed by society. Conventional treatments for this type of disorders often involve a combination of therapy, medication, and nutritional support; however, the effectiveness of these treatments can vary from case to case and subject to subject, which leads to a growing interest in exploring alternative therapeutic options like cannabis.
The Endocannabinoid System:
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex network of enzymes, receptors and certain chemical compounds called cannabinoids that is present in the human body that plays a crucial role in regulating physiological processes, such as appetite, mood, stress, sleep and reward mechanisms. In some cases, individuals with psychological disorders may have an altered ECS which could cause dysfunctions in their physiological processes.
Cannabis and its Components:
The cannabis plant contains over 100 different chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids. The two primary cannabinoids of interest are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These cannabinoids are known to be able to interact with our Endocannabinoid system, sometimes binding to the receptors in our brain and skin and helping regulate certain body functions and cell response.
Effects of Cannabinoids on Eating Behavior:
It is known that cannabinoids, particularly THC, can modulate appetite and food intake. People who have used cannabis before are familiar with the feeling called "munchies" that comes up after the "high": a sudden appetite and enjoyment for various (if not any) types of food. THC interacts with CB1 receptors in the brain's reward and appetite centers, influencing the release of neurotransmitters involved in appetite regulation. This interaction may potentially increase hunger and reduce symptoms of anorexia nervosa.
Clinical Studies and Observational Data:
Because cannabis has been illegal for the past century, there is limited clinical research on the use of cannabis for treating eating disorders. Still, some studies have reported that THC may increase appetite and food enjoyment in patients. Additionally, anecdotal evidence suggests that individuals with eating disorders may use cannabis to alleviate anxiety, depression, and body dissatisfaction.
Potential Mechanisms of Action:
The potential therapeutic effects of cannabinoids in eating disorders are thought to be multifaceted. Cannabinoids may influence appetite regulation by modulating signals and response of brain cells in the systems that are involved in hunger. Additionally, cannabinoids have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, potentially reducing the chronic inflammation and neurobiological alterations associated with eating disorders.
Considerations and Safety:
While cannabis shows promise as a potential treatment option for eating disorders, several considerations and safety precautions should be acknowledged. Individual responses to cannabinoids can vary, and side effects such as cognitive impairment, mood changes, and dependency should be carefully monitored. It is also recommended to use the best quality products that have been properly labeled and display the right percentages of CBD, THC and other compounds.
Cannabis in Barcelona
There is a thriving cannabis culture here in Barcelona, thanks to the decriminalization of weed in Spain and our favorable weather for the cultivation of the marijuana plant. Thanks to that, people can get hands on good labeled products that come from approved providers. If you are considering using cannabis products make sure you get them from a Barcelona dispensary or a weed club, and not from the street where it is impossible to know the origin and quality of the weed. If you are not a member of a cannabis club yet, all you have to do is apply on their website and wait until you receive an invitation.
The use of cannabis in treating eating disorders is a complex and evolving field of research. While clinical and anecdotal evidence suggests potential therapeutic benefits, further well-designed clinical studies are necessary to establish the safety, efficacy, and optimal dosing protocols of cannabinoids for eating disorders. As with any medical treatment, it is crucial for individuals with eating disorders to consult with healthcare professionals and not just delve into it by themselves.