Eating is one of the most pleasurable activities in our lives. If you don’t think so, try fasting for a few days and eating the food you dislike the most.
Our brains evolved to produce feel-good hormones whenever we eat, so we’re more likely to survive. As soon as you’re born, one of the first switches to be flipped on is the need to eat.
For people with anorexia, the effect is the complete opposite. They feel very uncomfortable, anxious and even scared, just due to the thought or expectation of food. Since legalization, outlets such as Greenleaf Farms have been promoting CBD, as a remedy for, among other things, anxiety and a lack of appetite. Does the same go for CBD and anorexia?
How does anorexia affect the body?
The regulation of appetite and feeding behaviors in the brain is guided by a complex network of peripheral organs and a myriad of pathways that connect them. New studies have suggested that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) may have an important part to play in signaling the release of feel-good hormones after eating.
In anorexic women, the ECS is significantly underactive as well as the part of the brain responsible for an emotional response to eating. Essentially, these women were unable to experience the same pleasure that the rest of us do after eating. As such, they tend to develop abnormal responses, referred to as ‘rituals’ around eating.
Cannabinol (CBD) has had some interesting prospects in clinical trials for being a potential alternative to current drugs used for chronic disorders such as anorexia.
How can CBD help with anorexia?
The emotional responses of people with anorexia often display are usually attributed to feelings of anxiety surrounding the intake of food. It has a combination of very different factors. It is affected by biological, psychological and, most important of all, social factors. For example, academic failures, obesity of the parents and other traumatic events can all trigger the disorder. However, the bases of these factors are not all fully understood.
The main action of CBD against anorexia is through its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects. This helps to get rid of the constant worry that people with anxiety feel when they ingest food. As a result, they will no longer concentrate on negative behavior that often turns out to be self-destructive. In anorexic patients, the most common self-destructive behaviors are avoiding food to the point of starvation, and vomiting food after eating it.
The link between the ECS and regulation of homeostasis in the body is not fully understood today. However, one of the aspects that is completely clear is that the CB1 receptor plays a crucial role in regulating hunger.
Chemicals that are able to interact with the CB1 receptor can lead to appetite stimulation. In this case, CBD oil administered into the body by means of a CBD dropper, for example, could have the same effect.
However, CBD isn’t a predictable drug in the same way paracetamol is since we don’t understand the region of the body that it affects fully, just yet. Regardless, the empirical evidence places it as a likely candidate for regulation of these receptors.
CBD oil could lead us to a possible cure
Anorexia has the highest death rate of any other psychiatric disorder, and contrary to popular belief, it’s a disease that’s been around throughout history. Many factors have been proposed to be the cause, but we don’t have definitive evidence just yet. As such, no cure for anorexia is yet available. The most common forms of treatment are therapy and nutritional support.
The ECS system is now known to be responsible for the pleasure we derived from food, an obsessive interest in avoiding it is bound to indicate a problem in this complex pathway. Since CBD is able to bond with the receptors in this network so effectively, it might just open the doors to finding something that works, once and for all.