Appetite And Marijuana

The most simple definition of appetite is the desire to eat food. Appetite is typically increased due to hunger, but can be reinforced when in the presence of foods deemed desirable. Metabolic needs for daily functioning are met through the adequate intake of energy, and appetite serves to regulate this process.  There is a large spectrum of illness’s that can negatively impact appetite, ultimately leading to a host of issues ranging from nutritional to emotional to physical and beyond. Illness’s including, but not limited to; AIDS/HIV, Cancer, Chrohns, Endometriosis, Anxiety, Depression, and IBS. But how does marijuana help  appetite?

Medical Marijuana and Appetite

The feeling of increased appetite after using cannabis has been documented for hundreds of years. It is only recently however, that any scientific research has been conducted to understand why cannabis use has this effect.

The first human study confirming that increased appetite, particularly the craving for sweet food, actually correlated with cannabis use, was conducted in 1971. Other research has been conducted since that time, once again confirming that sweet snacks such as cookies, chocolate bars and cakes are preferable over savoury snacks to cannabis users.

Cannabinoids affect the user by interacting with specific receptors, located within different parts of the central nervous system. Today it is known that we have receptors that respond to cannabis as well as cannabinoid like substances that exist inside us (endogenous cannabinoids).  The CB 1 receptor is also known to produce hunger promoting hormones.

What is a Cannabinoid?

Cannabinoids are a class of diverse chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors in cells that repress neurotransmitter release in the brain which include cannabinol and the active constituents of cannabis.

Cannabinoid receptors, located in the brain, are part of the Endocannabinoid system which is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.

What is a CB 1 Receptor?

The cannabinoid receptor type 1, often abbreviated as CB1, is a G protein-coupled cannabinoid receptor located primarily in the central and peripheral nervous system.

The appetite stimulating affect of cannabinoids is significant. Clinical research has proven cannabinoid treatment to be effective in increasing appetite in cancer patients.

Traditional Medication

Megace and Orexigenic are two of the most common pharmaceutical prescriptions for stimulating appetite.

Megace Side Effects – Heart failure, nausea and vomiting, edema, breakthrough menstrual bleeding, dyspnea, tumor flare (with or without hypercalcemia), hyperglycemia, glucose intolerance, alopecia, hypertension, carpal tunnel syndrome, mood changes, hot flashes, malaise, asthenia, lethargy, sweating and rash.

Orexigenic Side Effects – Severe mood changes and extreme depression, panic attacks and severe insomnia, nausea, vomiting, constipation, increased heartbeat and chest pain, fatigue, skin-rash, headaches and diarrhea, hallucinations, memory loss, anxiety and nervousness, muscle pain, high blood pressure, difficulty urinating, and seizures, liver diseases and bone pain.

How to Medicate

Smoking, vaporizing, and the oral ingestion of capsules and extracts have all been reported as successful for appetite stimulation.

The Patient

The intersection of appetite and cannabis goes far beyond the stereotypes of the so-called munchies. Given that loss of appetite is one of the most common symptoms of a multitude of diseases, this makes cannabis an efficacious treatment method for a host of medical conditions. Studies have revealed over 50% of patients suffering from HIV/AIDS reporting appetite stimulation from cannabis.

The beneficial effects of the plant on cancer patients suffering from loss of appetite and nausea are due to chemotherapy treatments are profound. A 2011 study in the Annals of Oncology reported the synthetic cannabinoid drobaninol as effective in increasing the “overall appreciation of food” in 73% of participating patients, while 30% reported positive effects with the placebo.

A plethora of anecdotal reports of appetite stimulation via high-THC cannabis in a variety of forms makes cannabinoid treatment of appetite issues one of the most effective, non-toxic methods known.

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