Wasting Syndrome and Medical Marijuana

What Is Wasting Syndrome (Cachexia)?

Wasting Syndrome, or also known as Cachexia, is a dramatic weight loss, which occurs because of the depletion of adipose tissue and muscle mass of a person. Patients diagnosed with this who suffer from chronic illness like cancer or HIV. Children may also be diagnosed with wasting syndrome when their current rate of weight gain is lower than in most children of the same age. Patients who experience cachexia lose significant amounts of body weight unintentionally, and their appetites also decrease.

Although the exact cause of cachexia is not yet clearly understood, several studies have shown that inflammatory cytokines may play a role in the development of cachexia.

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.

Medical Marijuana and Wasting Syndrome

A 2011 study discovered that consuming THC orally increased the appetite of cancer patients by an incredible 64%. 

Medical cannabis contains cannabinoids that are proven to be effective in increasing appetite by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Medical cannabis contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that influences neural networks that trigger the brain to tell it to eat.

Research suggests that the THC compound in marijuana is the most effective when it comes to stimulating appetite. Medical cannabis helps cachexia patients with their energy and physical activity levels as well. As a result, this may help lower the risk of atrophy and improve overall mood.