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Medical Marijuana and Bulimia

What Is Bulimia?

Bulimia nervosa, known simply as bulimia, is an eating disorder that typically consists of binging and purging. However, the main characteristic is purging. Binging consists of eating very large meals. Purging is forcefully vomiting the meal back up or using a laxative in an effort to satisfy appetite without gaining weight. It is extremely dangerous in that it prevents the body from acquiring nutrients. It can also damage the stomach, digestive system, reproductive system, esophagus and mouth of the sufferer. Bulimia is caused by a fear of gaining weight. It can also be caused by a wish to lose weight and then to keep weight down. Because it can stem from stress, poor self-image, depression, other mental/emotional disorders and possibly genetics, it is necessary to treat the cause of bulimia as well as the symptoms and consequences. It is not enough to get the sufferer sufficient nutrients to combat negative physical effects. Without treating the cause, bulimia and the underlying emotional symptoms will persist. Medical marijuana is currently used to treat a variety of conditions and symptoms. There is also research going into using medical marijuana for a wider variety of conditions. Marijuana has been shown to treat some of the symptoms of bulimia and some of the underlying causes. However, like other medications, it may not be able to treat the condition as a sole treatment. Oftentimes, therapy and other medical treatments must be used in conjunction with each other to combat this disorder.

Medical Marijuana and Bulimia

Symptoms/Consequences of Bulimia and Medical Marijuana

Physical symptoms of bulimia include binging and purging. A person with bulimia may also eat a normal diet without binging or eat very little, as with a person who has anorexia. Medical marijuana and marijuana in general have been shown to increase appetite. It is one of the primary side effects of the marijuana plant and THC. This side effect is known colloquially as "the munchies." Therefore, marijuana can increase appetite in individuals with bulimia who do not eat enough. However, psychotherapy should be undertaken to ensure that the purging behavior ceases.

Another physical symptom of bulimia nervosa is increased exercise. This is not present in all bulimia sufferers and is not necessarily a bad thing. A problem arises when it is more exercise than the body can handle. If the body is not getting enough nutrients, exercise will sap what is left. A very weak person with bulimia can suffer organ damage through lack of nutrients. Increased exercise in extreme cases can result in death through various organ malfunctions and failures. Medical marijuana may be able to help in this department by calming the manic energy that drives a person with bulimia to continue exercising despite the body's protests. Marijuana stereotypically makes a person less motivated. While this is a stereotype and not always true, it is often true while the effects are taking place. With the help of a doctor, bulimia sufferers can try this method of decreasing obsessive behavior.

Emotional Symptoms of Bulimia and Medical Marijuana

Bulimia sufferers can potentially run the range of negative emotional symptoms. They can be manic, depressed, anxious, self-medicating, moody and disinterested in activities that do not further the weight loss goal. Medical marijuana is not likely to work as a sole treatment for these symptoms. However, in general, it can help a person sleep better, be less anxious and soothe depression. Because medical marijuana has been actually shown to cause some of these symptoms, it is best that bulimia sufferers do not self-medicate. The supervision of a medical professional is needed to monitor the effects medical marijuana is having on a patient.

Bulimia and Medical Marijuana Research

The most documented effect of medical marijuana that can help those with eating disorders is increased appetite. Not only is increased appetite virtually universally reported among marijuana and medical marijuana users, it is also one of the few completely understood reactions to the drug. Endocannabinoids are produced by the body naturally and the body has countless receptors for them. We are now beginning to understand the role these endocannabinoids play in body chemistry and one role appears to be appetite control. Cannabinoids attach to the same receptors as endocannabinoids, meaning they can affect the same sensations affected by the body's natural endocannabinoids, such as hunger.

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