Cannabis has been known for thousands of years for its ability to increase appetite. Therefore, in recent years, it has also been investigated for its potential benefits for patients suffering from some forms of eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa. Recent research confirms its far-reaching and previously unsuspected overlap for this type of mental illness.

Mental anorexia

Mental anorexia is said to occur when an individual deliberately reduces their body weight through various methods and practices. The main strategies include avoiding food intake per se. The patient also uses various methods and practices to avoid weight gain - we are talking about inducing vomiting, misuse of diuretics, laxatives and various other drugs and preparations that suppress normal appetite. A characteristic feature of the patient is a body mass index (BMI) of 17.5 or less.

"Mental anorexia has the highest mortality rate among psychiatric disorders, and options for its management remain very limited."[1]

Endocannabinoid system

The endocannabinoid system of the human body is still only partially understood. However, recent studies show that it plays an important role in the regulation of appetite in the human body. Scientists are trying to delve deeper and deeper into the physiological patterns of this system, which influences basic biological functions of the body such as appetite, food intake and satiety.

A receptor called CB1 is found mainly in cells of the brain, spinal cord, stomach, muscles or pancreas, while CB2 is found mainly in white blood cells, spleen, almond tissue or liver. However, further research has shown that the body itself makes similar substances that fit into the same receptors. For example, anandamide, which is responsible for mood and state of mind but is not as potent as THC, fits into the same receptors as the psychoactive THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

If the hypothesis that a dysfunctional endocannabinoid system may be behind the development of anorexia nervosa is correct, the use of THC could bring both subjective and objective improvements in health to patients whose bodies are unable to produce and process sufficient amounts of their own cannabinoid anandamide. However, the whole system has not yet been sufficiently studied to specify its relationship to mental illnesses such as anorexia nervosa. The better we get at this subject over time, the better our chances of successfully finding appropriate treatments.

Source:

1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18926548

2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23829365

3) Bylinky Revue, Konopné číslo 3. díl, vyd. 1/2018, Poruchy příjmu potravy, s.56-61

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18926548