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Medical Marijuana and Anorexia

What Is Anorexia?

Anorexia is the decreased sensation of appetite which may indicate a serious clinical condition. It is a common side effect of many serious diseases such as acute viral hepatitis, AIDS, cancer, congestive heart failure, Chron’s disease, depression and more.

Causes of Anorexia

Tragically, as many as 20 percent of deaths associated with anorexia are suicides, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. While the exact cause of the condition is not clear, it can run in families. For example, if the parent or a sibling of a young woman has anorexia, she is more likely to develop it as well.

There are also several social, environmental and psychological factors that can lead to the development of the condition. Many people with anorexia feel they would be much better off if they were only thinner. Overachievers and perfectionists tend to be at a higher risk for the condition. Experts also believe that the condition can be the result of trying to deal with childhood traumas or conflicts with friends, family members or others that were never resolved.

Treatment Options for Anorexia

Several traditional treatment options are typically attempted when someone is suffering from anorexia. They usually involve a team of dieticians, medical professionals and mental health experts who have experience treating the eating disorder. Here are a few of the components in a typical treatment program:

  • Hospitalization — Someone who suffers from anorexia is at a high risk of suffering a medical emergency, such as psychiatric issues, heart rhythm disruptions, dehydration and more. If someone is experiencing severe malnutrition or some other type of urgent issue, immediate hospitalization in a medical or psychiatric facility may be necessary.
  • Medical treatment — Anorexia can lead to a wide variety of health complications that require constant monitoring. In some extreme instances, patients with the condition may have to be fed through a tube that is run through the nose and into the stomach. In most cases, the patient’s primary care physician will coordinate care with other professionals.
  • Weight restoration — Other than any emergency medical treatment, the most important priority when treating someone with anorexia is restoring the patient’s weight to a healthy level. This will usually require a psychological, as well as dietary, approach. A mental health expert will usually work with the patient to put together a behavioral strategy to help the patient gain weight. Then, a dietician will provide guidance to the patient in order to establish regular eating patterns, as well as meal plans. In many instances, the patient’s family can be a great help when it comes to maintaining healthy habits of eating.
  • Psychotherapy — There are two main types of psychotherapy that have proven to be effective in helping someone with anorexia. Family-based therapy is typically used for patients in their teens. Parents are taught methods to help their children make better choices about their health. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the method typically geared toward adults. It usually involves establishing normal eating patterns, as well as reinforcing behaviors to help support weight gain. It also typically includes changing the distorted thoughts and beliefs that contribute to the problem.

Medical Marijuana and Anorexia

Anorexia, or an abnormal decrease in the sensation of appetite, is a serious side effect of many drugs including radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and many medical conditions, such as acute viral hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, cancer, congestive heart failure, Chron’s disease, depression and more. (Click here to learn about the eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa.) Anorexia can lead to or contribute to other serious medical conditions such as wasting syndrome or cachexia.

According to scientific and anecdotal evidence, using medical marijuana is a safe, effective way to increase the appetite. A Columbia University study found that THC and cannabis caused an increase in caloric intake and weight in HIV-positive patients. And the National Cancer Institute is in the process of evaluating the effects of THC for treatment-related and cancer-related anorexia. Many marijuana states include anorexia on their list of qualifying conditions. Additionally, marijuana side effects are typically mild and are classified as "low risk," with euphoric mood changes among the most frequent side effects. Increased appetite is considered to be one of the few marijuana side effects, but it can actually be extremely beneficial to patients suffering from anorexia.

If you or someone you know is suffering from anorexia and would like to get medical marijuana, can help. We can connect you with hundreds of quality marijuana doctors across the country in all legal marijuana states and ensure you are in compliance with your state laws. Book an appointment today and let us help improve your quality of life!

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