Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Patients with severe chronic illnesses can develop cachexia, also known as wasting syndrome. It causes them to lose a large amount of weight and muscle mass. Losing so much body mass results in fatigue and difficulty fighting off the underlying condition.
While cachexia is curable, treatment can be difficult if the patient has a multitude of symptoms causing it. So, nipping wasting syndrome in the bud before it develops can make the treatment process much easier. Plus, it increases the patient’s quality of life. Several studies have shown medical marijuana use can lower your chance of developing cachexia.
Cachexia has no singular cause. It often appears in later stages of progressive illnesses that involve a wide variety of symptoms. Sometimes, the condition itself affects the patient’s appetite or energy to cook, reducing their food intake. In some cases, body changes interfere with the patient’s ability to retain nutrients, even when they eat enough food. So, there are multiple approaches you can take when preventing cachexia.
Severe illnesses and their treatments can reduce a patient’s appetite to the point that they eat less. Everyone needs the proper amount of nutrients, especially when fighting a disease. In some cases, medication can alter your sense of smell and taste, so food isn’t as appealing. Or, you might just not feel hungry.
When people joke about cannabis, they often make fun of its ability to make you feel hungry. But, for some patients, this aspect of marijuana greatly improves their lives. Cannabis works in a variety of ways to give you a bigger appetite, including by providing a higher sense of smell and taste.
Many patients with chronic illnesses experience nausea as either a symptom or side effect of treatment. In some situations, the nausea becomes so severe that it ruins the patient’s appetite. Or, the patient still has an appetite, but they can’t keep food down. Either way, chronic nausea can result in the development of cachexia.
Cannabis works as an effective anti-emetic, or anti-nausea, medicine. Experiencing less nausea lets you eat without worrying about vomiting. As a bonus, if you have a reduced appetite due to nausea, cannabis medicine can also handle that symptom.
Fighting a serious condition takes a lot of energy. Even if you don’t have an illness that directly causes fatigue, some symptoms can take more of a toll on you than you realize. For example, chronic pain can make you feel tired just from experiencing it. An elevated level of fatigue can make food preparation unfeasible, denying you access to important nutrients.
Certain types of medical marijuana can give you the burst of energy you need to conduct daily activities like cooking. Cannabis medicine that provides energy often also clears your head, letting you focus better. This combination of energy and clarity can give you more control over your diet.
Cachexia can also come from digestive tract diseases that interfere with proper digestion. When your body doesn’t have the chance to digest food all the way, it doesn’t take in all the nutrients. If you experience painful or uncomfortable symptoms after eating, you could also develop a negative association with meals. Disorders like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis inflame your digestive system, so you need to reduce the inflammation.
Marijuana medicine soothes inflammation in any part of the body. So, you can use it to reduce your digestive problems and avoid the uneasiness that comes along with eating.
Contact a cannabis-positive physician today to find out if you’re eligible for medical marijuana. Patients with a medical cannabis ID can purchase medicine from a dispensary in their area. Search our extensive database to find a qualified professional near you right away.