Also known as Cachexia, wasting syndrome typically affects patients with severe medical problems. According to News Medical, the condition affects up to 5 million Americans. It is a potentially life-threatening condition, but you may be surprised to learn about the impact of marijuana on patients with wasting syndrome.
In this article we are going to discuss, what is Wasting Syndrome and discuss the possible health benefits of medical marijuana.
What is Wasting Syndrome?
It is a condition that relates to the excessive loss of body weight and occurs because the person’s adipose tissue and muscle mass deplete even though they are not trying to lose weight. The term ‘Cachexia’ comes from two Greek words; ‘Kakos’ (bad), and ‘hexis’ (condition).
It is most likely to affect you during the later stages of chronic illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, Celiac Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Heart Failure and Kidney Disease. Wasting syndrome affects up to 40% of heart failure patients and up to 60% of people with kidney disease.
It is most commonly associated with late stage cancer, and it contributes to at least 20% of cancer deaths as more than 50% of people with late-stage cancer have wasting syndrome.
The exact cause of cachexia is unknown, but while the signs and symptoms are only determined late in the course of the illness, medical experts now know that the process leading to muscle wasting starts soon after the diagnosis of the illness, especially in the case of cancer.
It is a very different problem to starvation because you can deal with starvation by increasing a person’s calorie intake. With wasting syndrome, merely providing a patient with more food is an ineffective tactic. Also, while the body uses fat for fuel when in ‘starvation mode,’ a person with cachexia loses equal amounts of muscle and fat.
Symptoms of Wasting Syndrome
The most noticeable symptoms of wasting syndrome include:
- Unintentional Weight Loss: Cachexia not only results in unwanted weight loss, but it will also occur even if you are consuming an adequate number of calories.
- Skeletal Muscle Wasting: You lose equal amounts of fat and muscle, and if you are overweight when diagnosed with a major illness, the loss of muscle can occur without any noticeable impact on your outward appearance.
- Loss of Appetite: This is different to merely having a decreased desire for food. Cachexia sufferers often have no interest in eating whatsoever to the point where they could develop anorexia.
- Reduced Quality of Life: Wasting syndrome weakens your body to the extent that you are unable to get involved in activities you normally enjoy.
Living with Wasting Syndrome
Bear in mind that wasting syndrome is associated with people in the late stage of serious illnesses such as cancer and kidney failure. Instead of being able to spend time with loved ones and enjoying the rest of your life, it’s likely you will be bedridden, unable to enjoy food and racked in pain. It is unquestionably a cruel add-on to the illness and sufferers would do anything to alleviate the pain caused by cachexia.
Traditional Treatments for Wasting Syndrome
To date, treatment options for cachexia are disappointing as physicians are unable to find ways to reverse the process. The main treatment is a gradual increase in calories, but if the amount rises too quickly, the patient can suffer from ‘overfeeding syndrome.’ Patients also receive nutritional supplements such as fish oil and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Physicians also recommend exercise as a means of improving one’s appetite while popular medications include Testosterone, Thalidomide, Megace, L-Carnitine, and Celebrex.
Research Involving Marijuana & Wasting Syndrome
It seems as if the old stereotype of consuming cannabis and getting the ‘munchies’ has more than a little merit for people with wasting syndrome. A 2007 study at Columbia University involved giving marijuana orally to AIDs patients with cachexia. It significantly increased their appetite and led to weight gain.
A 2011 study discovered that consuming THC orally increased the appetite of cancer patients by an incredible 64%! Thus far, research suggests that the THC compound in marijuana is the most effective when it comes to stimulating appetite.
THC is one of the dozens of cannabinoids found in cannabis that react with the endocannabinoid system; a signaling system that is responsible for regulating food intake. THC is especially effective because it convinces the brain that it is hungry.
5 Best Marijuana Strains for Wasting Syndrome
1 – Monster Cookies (The Marijuana Strain That Keeps Your Hand IN the Cookie Jar)
This is an indica dominant hybrid (80%) that is a cross between Granddaddy Purple and Girl Scout Cookies strains. The combination of the 21% THC and the high level of indica means Monster Cookies give you the kind of high that is best observed lying on your sofa.
It provides you with a slow but steady head high that creeps throughout your body and ultimately leaves you feeling pain-free and fantastic. It will probably give you the appearance of the stereotypical ‘stoner,’ but at least you’ll have the appetite to match!
2 – Sonoma Coma (A Spicy, Fruity & Uplifting Marijuana Strain)
This sativa dominant hybrid (70%) is the product of breeder secrecy, so no one is sure about its exact genetics. What we do know it that it boasts a THC level as high as 25% and it won the Best Sativa Award at the prestigious High Times Cannabis Cup in 2012.
Users love the sweet tropical taste that hits them with an unusually spicy aftertaste that lingers for a considerable length of time. You should receive a cerebral head high that boosts your energy, and it also makes you sociable and hungry!
3 – Platinum Purple Kush (The Marijuana Strain that is The Stronger Brother of Purple Kush)
Although it is a hybrid strain, it is definitely on the indica side of things. Platinum Purple Kush is the night time strain of your dreams as its high indica and THC content (12-20%) ensures you benefit from deep body relaxation but with intense mental focus.
While you will feel hazy, calm, euphoric and happy, Platinum Purple Kush will massively stimulate your appetite so you will definitely find the energy to raid the fridge. It is an especially good choice for first-time users seeking a calming, mellow experience.
4 – Gigabud (The Marijuana Strain with Gigantic Nugs)
This indica dominant hybrid (60%) is famed for its oversized neon green nugs that are shaped like Christmas trees. Its genetic profile is unknown although it is probably a cross between G-13 and White Widow. It is best known for inducing your appetite even if you have intense stomach pain.
It provides you with an almost immediate high, and you should feel a sense of energy and motivation even as you decide what to eat. Eventually, the cerebral high gives way to a sense of full body calm so once your stomach is full, all you’ll want to do is sleep.
5 – Grapefruit Haze (The Marijuana Strain That Gives You the Giggles)
This powerful hybrid is the result of a merger between Super Silver Haze and BC Grapefruit. Although the ratio of the hybrid is unknown, it seems likely that it is slightly in favor of sativa. Although the THC can be up to 25%, Grapefruit Haze isn’t so potent that you can’t try it as a newcomer.
It is a popular strain for anxiety, depression, and migraines but does a good job when it comes to boosting your appetite too. If having the munchies isn’t awesome enough, Grapefruit Haze gives you an extremely cerebral high and is known for occasionally causing users to burst out in fits of giggles!
Final Thoughts About Marijuana and Wasting Syndrome (Cachexia)
It is heartbreaking to watch someone you love suffer from wasting syndrome so imagine what it must be like to be on the receiving end. There is some hope on the horizon in the form of marijuana which can spike your appetite and hopefully help you remain at a stable weight. If you do suffer from wasting syndrome and decide to use medical marijuana as a treatment, please be sure to consult with your doctor before doing so.