Medicinal cannabis and Appetite
Table of Contents
Does medical cannabis improve appetite?
Medical cannabis is used to improve appetite in many conditions that cause poor appetite or reduced hunger. Appetite and hunger are controlled by a number of hormones, the patterns of these hormones can be disrupted by diseases or as a side effect to medications.
Cannabinoids, mainly THC, stimulate the main hormone that makes us hungry, ghrelin. It may also reduce the hormone that tells us we are full. This means, in patients with poor appetite or those who feel full before they have eaten enough to meet their nutritional needs, medical cannabis may help regulate these hormones and therefore improve hunger.
Appetite is often reduced or absent in diseases like HIV, AIDs, cancer and during cancer treatments. Maintaining adequate energy and nutrient intake during these kinds of medical conditions and their treatments can make a huge difference to patient outcomes, both physiologically and psychologically.
In both clinical research and in the experience of CA Clinics medical doctors, medicinal cannabis can be used alongside prescribed medications, to stimulate hunger in some patients with a range of conditions that result in reduced appetite.
Can medical cannabis help patients with cachexia or wasting syndrome?
Cachexia, also known as wasting syndrome or cachexia-anorexia, is the result of long term poor appetite and decreased food intake. Clinical trials show medical cannabis has improved weight in some patients, or prevented them from losing weight during medical treatments that would usually adversely impact body weight. Medicinal cannabis, however, does not work for all patients.
Maintaining healthy body weight during treatments or medical conditions that would usually stimulate unwanted weight loss, may not only improve treatment outcomes but also have positive flow-on effects to sleep and mood. Sleeping disturbances and mood changes are commonly experienced by patients undergoing the physical stress and emotional turmoil associated with having a chronic illness by maintaining dietary nutrition and energy during and after treatments can positively impact sleep and regulation of patients emotional landscape.
What medical cannabis treatments are available for loss of appetite or cachexia?
There is a range of cannabinoid medicines available that could potentially help with appetite or cachexia. At CA Clinics our experienced doctors assess the unique combination of symptoms each patient presents and provide a medical cannabis prescription that is tailored to each individual patient.
Medical cannabis treatments can come in the form of capsules, oils, wafers, patches and inhaled products. In Australia, the most commonly prescribed form of medical cannabis is in the oil form, which is usually administered sublingually -under the tongue- for optimal absorption and cost-effectiveness.
Can CBD oil help with appetite?
CBD oil may indirectly help with patients experiencing poor appetite. CBD oil is extensively used as a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, with wide-ranging possible effects. By treating the root cause condition that is promoting the lack of appetite, CBD may be able to improve appetite by proxy in some patients.
CBD oil and IBD
In situations like Irritable Bowel Diseases (IBDs) CBD can act as an anti-inflammatory reducing discomfort and pain in the digestive tract. In doing so, some patients who prior to CBD oil treatment found it difficult to eat due to pain, can better digest their meals with less discomfort.
CBD oil and mental health
Similarly, psychological conditions like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may reduce hunger and appetite due to the constant activation of the stress response. CBD has been extensively researched in its ability to reduce anxiety and fear which may create an environment more favourable for hunger and enjoyment of food.
It is, therefore, possible for medical cannabis to improve appetite via a number of different actions. In medical conditions of treatment where appetite and hunger are impaired, patients should seek out the advice of their GP, specialist or experienced medical cannabis prescribers such as our doctors at CA Clinics.