Eating Disorders (e.g. Anorexia, Bulimia, Obesity)

One of the most well-known side-effects of cannabis is that it can give a person the “munchies” – an urge to eat. This makes cannabis and cannabinoids a perfect candidate for the treatment of eating disorders of many kinds. When it comes to obesity – which is often also considered an eating disorder – it comes as a shock that cannabis may help. However, cannabis users tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and lower rates of obesity compared to the general population.

Eating disorders of various types could be due to a dysfunctional endocannabinoid system (ECS). Leptin and ghrelin levels are lower in those with eating disorders, and cannabinoids may actually help induce the production of these two hunger-causing hormones. As for those with obesity, there is an increase in the concentration of cannabinoids made available in the body. This increased availability of cannabinoids can stimulate hunger. Cannabinoids such as THCV and CBD may help curb this hunger and help regulate insulin levels.

Obesity costs the US approximately $117 billion in direct health costs, making up between 6% to 12% of national healthcare expenditure in the US. In the developing world in general, obesity is becoming a bigger-and-bigger problem, as refined sugars and processed foods start becoming a part of a greater number of people’s diets. Obesity affects an estimated 600 million adults and 100 million children worldwide. Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, meanwhile, have an extremely high mortality rate, and treatment methods are complex. Treating eating disorders of all kinds is therefore a matter of utmost importance, and effective treatment could help prevent a number of other conditions as well.

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