Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by self-starvation and an abnormally low body weight, and affecting over 30 million people every year. Because the body is not receiving the amount of nutrients and calories it needs in order to function normally, physiological processes must slow down to save energy. This includes slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and forcing the heart to work harder, which increases the risk of heart failure. Anorexia can also result in the loss of bone density and muscle mass, fatigue and weakness, loss of hair, skin dryness, and severe dehydration, which increases the risk of kidney failure. Because anorexia is both a physical and a mental problem, a multifaceted approach that targets both aspects is necessary throughout the treatment process.
Marijuana may be a potential treatment option for anorexia due to its involvement in the endocannabinoid system. Some researchers now suggest anorexia may be connected to a dysfunction in the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in a variety of pyhsiological processes related to homeostatic balance, one of which includes controlling the body's reaction to foods and the feeling one experiences through eating. CB1 is the cannabinoid receptor responsible for appetite regulation, and it stimulates eating behavior by triggering hunger and fullness, offering pleasure when eating, and making food palatable. Cannabis' THC interacts with the CB1 receptor, thereby triggering hunger and increasing pleasure from eating. If anorexic patients feel hungry and enjoy eating, they may be able to return to a healthy body weight. In addition, cannabis may help cachexia patients by increasing energy and physical activity levels, which would lower atrophy and improve mood.
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