According to the Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), a staggering 30 million people across the U.S. suffer from an eating disorder. This statistic applies to all ages, race, and genders, although it is mostly seen in females.
The statistics surrounding anorexia from there do not get any better, and in fact, they are pretty horrifying, with eating disorders holding the highest mortality rates of any other mental illness, it stands to reason that people are now looking to potential alternative treatments for the disease.
There are plenty of cases for cannabis as an effective treatment for anorexia, but as our knowledge of the marijuana plant grows and we learn more about cannabinoids, is it possible that CBD oil may be the way to go? We are going to take a look at CBD Oil vs. marijuana for the best treatment of anorexia.
What Is Anorexia?
We are not going to go into detail about this disorder, but, generally speaking, Anorexia is a very complicated and dangerous mental illness that involves an individual restricting their food intake, to lose dramatic amounts of weight. On the surface, anorexia may not sound as severe as many other mental illnesses, but in fact, as the statistics show, it can be incredibly dangerous and often leads to disability or even death.
What Causes Anorexia?
Anorexia nervosa is the most common eating disorder in the world, and while a lot of work has gone into the research of this disorder, the causes for why it occurs are still unclear. However, researchers do know that there can be one or more contributing factors that can lead to anorexia or other eating disorders developing, some of which are the following:
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Low self-esteem
- Environmental factors (such as bullying)
- Personality traits (perfectionist, OCD)
While it is impossible to pinpoint any specific cause of an eating disorder such as anorexia, it has been well established over the years to often relate to one or more of the factors above. However there is not always a trigger, and for some, it can just be a healthy diet that spirals out of control.
What Are The Symptoms Of Anorexia?
Anorexia can be well hidden for a very long time, especially if it is not at a critical level. It is perhaps this factor that makes eating disorders as a whole, as dangerous as they are, as they can develop over a long period of time without being noticed. This can also lead to long-term damage.
However, making yourself aware of the symptoms can help you spot the signs more easily. The following are some of the most common symptoms that can develop from anorexia:
- Extreme weight loss
- Dizziness or fainting
- Thinning or loss of hair
- Brittle nails
- Dry skin
- Low blood pressure
- Abnormal blood count
- Elevated liver enzymes
What Are The Current Treatments For Anorexia?
While it is the case that in some states cannabis has been legalized as a treatment for anorexia, more often than not it is more traditional options that are taken to combat this disorder. Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole host of medications out there to treat anorexia, and it is usually a form of ‘talking therapy’ such as CBT and a controlled dietary plan that is provided for sufferers.
While many sufferers will be placed on antidepressant medications, there is no medication to treat the mental illness of anorexia itself.
It is for this reason, above all else, that cannabis is such an appealing option, as it has been proven to pinpoint those symptoms of that anorexia that make the condition so dangerous.
Cannabis vs. CBD for Anorexia: Which Is Best?
If there is one thing everyone knows about cannabis, it is it’s phenomenal abilities to kick-start an eating frenzy! With super appetite stimulant properties, it makes sense that the herb would be a go-to option for those struggling with eating.
In addition, for quite some time now, cannabis has been used to help treat anorexia-related specifically to medical conditions. So if it can help treat debilitating conditions, then why shouldn’t it be the perfect solution for Anorexia.
However, is it possible that as research into CBD increases, there may be an argument there that the cannabinoid, could provide more effective relief for anorexia suffers than the plant as a whole?
When we consider the positive traits of the marijuana plant, it seems crazy to want to move away from that; however, if we take a look at the facts around the cannabis plant in comparison to CBD, we can see a pretty strong argument for the cannabinoid.
Why CBD could beat Marijuana as a potential treatment for anorexia
We already know the positives of cannabis for anorexia, and this has been well reported on, over the years. So let’s focus on; why you may choose NOT to opt for marijuana as a whole:
- THC – The psychoactive component of marijuana plays a large part in those famous munchies proven to be so helpful with anorexia. However, it is essential to differentiate between cannabis for anorexia as a side effect of another illness, and anorexia as a mental health disorder.
THC while being used to combat many of the side effects of anorexia can have a detrimental impact on anxiety, if the individual is already suffering. While it can ease anxiety and depression, it can also make matters worse.
- ECS – The Endocannabinoid system is something each and every one of us has. It is vital for the regulation of a range of things, from mood control to appetite and even body temperature. However, it has been shown that those who suffer from anorexia have a less productive ECS. Those who may be suffering from anorexia and therefore have a malfunctioning ECS are less likely to have control over not only their appetite, but also their general health, mood, and wellbeing.
A study* published in 2011 looked at how eating disorders impacted the body. The study involved 16 women who had a diagnosis of bulimia nervosa and 14 who had anorexia. The results revealed that all of the women suffering from an eating disorder showed to have significantly less responsive endocannabinoids in the sections of the brain that controls reward, emotion, and appetite and body perception.
- Restriction – While cannabis is legal to treat anorexia in some states across America, it is important to consider the limitations on marijuana from a legal perspective. In most states, that permit the use of marijuana for medical use, only those above the age of 18 can use the substance. Anorexia, does not take the age factor into account and can affect children and the elderly, who may not have access to the herb, even if it is permitted in their state. When we consider these factors it is clear to see why non-psychoactive CBD could be a more adequate alternative. It can be consumed by any age group and has none of those adverse and often unwanted effects.
Up until now, we have taken a look at a few of the main reasons why cannabis may no longer be the go-to choice for anorexia sufferers. Here are our top arguments for CBD as a more effective treatment for anorexia.
- Based on the findings of the 2011 study above, it stands to reason that CBD would be the most effective treatment. While THC reacts well with our CB1 receptor found within the brain, this is as far as it goes. CBD does not interact directly with the CB1 receptor, instead it works alongside the endocannabinoid system to increase the release of natural healing cannabinoids.
CBD can help to treat the worst symptoms of anorexia without causing toxicity, or any other feelings of loss of control that can come with marijuana.
- Mental health – While it is true that THC can leave you feeling super happy as part of your high, it can also in some vary rare instances negatively impact mental health, especially if taken in high amounts. CBD, on the other hand, has been thought to be an effective stress reliever and is often used to treat depression. When used in conjunction with talking therapy, CBD can work wonders.
Final Thoughts on Using CBD for Anorexia
When it comes down to it, both CBD and cannabis as a whole can be incredibly effective treatments for anorexia and other eating disorders. However, that being said there are many areas where CBD comes out on top, from psychoactive THC through to affordability and efficacy in the treatment of symptoms.
Here is to hoping more people take on board the facts behind the plant’s amazing cannabinoids.
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