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Cannabis and CBD for Bulimia

Bulimia Nervosa is a condition where sufferers binge eat large amounts of food and later force vomiting or overuse laxatives and diuretics to avoid weight gain. Unlike Anorexia Nervosa, which entails starving for long periods to lose unnecessary weight, Bulimia is also life-threatening, reports the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA).  

While there is no conclusive evidence that medical cannabis can treat Bulimia, some studies show possible short-term benefits, according to Eating Disorder Hope, an educational organization founded in 2005. 

Bulimia Nervosa Symptoms

There are dozens of emotional, behavioral, and physical signs and symptoms of Bulimia. Prominent emotional and behavioral signs include extreme mood changes, withdrawal from family and friends, fear of eating in public, hoards food in unlikely places, develops food rituals, and diets excessively, reports the NEDA. Physical signs of Bulimia include reoccurring weight fluctuation, hard time focusing, fainting, brittle nails, dental problems, and dry skin, among many others.  

Up to 4.7 million female Americans, as well as 1.5 million males, have Bulimia at some point in their life, and “there is an increased risk of suicide among individuals who have Bulimia. In fact, suicide is the number one leading cause of death among people who struggle with Bulimia,” reports American Addiction Centers. 

Can CBD & THC Help Treat Bulimia?

As far back as 2012, research has connected medical cannabis to eating disorders. “Scientists discovered that the brain’s marijuana-like neurotransmitter system was significantly underactive in women with either anorexia or bulimia in a part of the brain that is responsible for the integration of the taste of food with our emotional response to eating,” reports Psychology Today, adding the patients were unable to find pleasure in food, which caused them to develop rituals and adverse reactions to it. 

A Healthline report details two journal studies published by Nature Neuroscience studies showing how medical cannabis could alleviate negative food behaviors, including binge eating. The 2015 study reports how cannabis receptor 1, referred to as CB1, is “critical for the central regulation of food intake,” while a 2014 study revealed CB1 “receptors “promote food intake in fasted mice by increasing odor detection.”

While noting the positive side effects of medical cannabis on eating disorders, particularly binge eating, which is a facet of Bulimia, Healthline reports the risk between “binge eating disorder versus overeating from marijuana.” 

While medical cannabis is used short-term for Anorexia patients who must gain weight quickly, it could have adverse effects on binge eating. Further research connecting medical cannabis and Bulimia may prove to help further alleviate the disorder. 

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Data Last Updated 11/04/2021

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