Medical Marijuana as an Appetite Stimulant in Patients With Hyperthyroidism


Hyperthyroidism is a disease which occurs when you have an overactive thyroid. The thyroid is a small gland in the middle of your neck that produces hormones responsible for regulating your metabolic rate. When the thyroid is overactive and releases too much of these hormones, the body’s metabolism speeds up, causing it to burn energy too quickly. The main cause for hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease.

Patients with hyperthyroidism experience many adverse symptoms because of their condition, including excessive sweating, rapid or irregular heartbeat and nervousness. However, one of the most common side effects of hyperthyroidism is extreme weight loss because the body is burning calories too quickly. Coupled with that, many patients experience loss of appetite, which can lead to serious malnutrition.

Most treatments for hyperthyroidism include medications or procedures that could create adverse side effects or complications. Plus, they don’t address patients’ loss of appetite. Research suggests medical marijuana could be a possible treatment option. Not only does it address some of the underlying issues of hyperthyroidism, but it also acts as an appetite stimulant, encouraging weight gain.

Why Do Patients With Hyperthyroidism Lose Their Appetites?

With hyperthyroidism, your body begins burning calories at a disturbing rate, leading many to drop weight rapidly. Unfortunately, along with this weight loss, some patients lose their desire to eat, even though they need to do this to keep their weight stable. This is caused by an overabundance of hormones produced by the thyroid.

Another reason some patients with hyperthyroidism lose their appetite is because of their antithyroid medications, which is one of the main treatment options used for this condition. It’s accompanied by many different adverse side effects, including nausea and loss of appetite.

How Medical Marijuana Stimulates Appetite

One of the most reliable side effects of cannabis is its ability to increase a user’s appetite. But how does it happen? All of marijuana’s effects have to do with how the plant interacts with our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).

We are just beginning to understand how influential the ECS is. It consists of a series of receptors and chemicals, which help bring homeostasis to many different bodily functions. Some of these receptors are found in the brain and play a role in:

  • Coordination
  • Learning
  • Short-term memory
  • Appetite

The active components in marijuana are called cannabinoids, the most famous of these being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The cannabinoids in marijuana can mimic the chemicals produced by the ECS and bind themselves to our natural endocannabinoid receptors.

When THC binds to the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain, it creates several different side effects, from feelings of euphoria to deep relaxation. One of these receptors is found in the olfactory bulb, a neural structure responsible for smell and taste. But THC also causes the release of the hormone ghrelin, which is known for stimulating hunger. The combination of these two factors tricks the brain into thinking it’s hungry.

This side effect may be inconvenient for those who don’t want the “munchies.” But for people with medical conditions that cause loss of appetite, like hyperthyroidism, it’s a much-needed benefit to help them achieve a healthy amount of weight gain.

Find Out About Your State’s Medical Marijuana Program

Medical marijuana is now legal in many states throughout the U.S. for a variety of different conditions. However, each state has its own list of qualifying conditions. If you’d like to pursue medical marijuana treatments, set up a time to speak to a marijuana doctor. They can assess your health, answer your questions and see if you qualify for an MMJ card.

Additional Hyperthyroidism & Cannabis Resources

For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat Hyperthyroidism, check out our resources: