Is CBD Oil Effective to treat Anorexia?
Our endocannabinoid system has long been known as a modulator of a large number of physiological functions, including homeostatic and hedonic aspects of food. CB1 receptors are widely expressed in regions of the brain that control food intake, reward, and even energy balance. Trials with both animal models and human patients indicate that CB1 receptor agonists have orexigenic effects that improve appetite and increase the rewarding value of food.
The psychological and biological factors underlying eating disorders are complex and not yet fully understood, however, in recent decades, convergent evidence has led to the hypothesis that there is a relationship between endocannabinoid system defects and eating disorders including obesity.
Cannabinoids as an integral part of our diet is a concept that is gaining great interest precisely for this relationship and with great focus for the treatment of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and cachexia. Cannabinoids such as CBD have been shown to be compounds with multi-modal mechanisms of action, with clear therapeutic potential in different medical areas. One of the strongest points for the basis of the use of CBD is its high tolerability in humans, whose bioavailability in the form of CBD oils is becoming the most attractive way of application.
How is Anorexia defined?
Anorexia is defined as an eating disorder characterized by very restricted food intake, to the point of starvation and severe self-inflicted weight loss, also leading to an abnormal perception of the patient's body image.
Among this disorder, two central types have been identified:
Bulimic Subtype: Use of laxatives, induction of vomiting, diuretics and intense exercise to achieve bodyweight loss.
Restrictive Subtype: The patient tends to limit their intake of calories and food to the extreme to achieve bodyweight loss.
This disease is of special complication when dealing with patients diagnosed with cancer in advanced stages, becoming considered as critical limiting factors for the quality of life of patients, even above the chronic or intense pain that can cause therapies such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Anorexia has a combination of very different factors that contribute with its development, among which biological, psychological and social factors are the ones that most affect individuals: Obesity of one of the parents, academic failures, separation of the parents, or traumatic events, are just some examples of the triggers for the development of this disorder.
The factors capable of affecting the development of this disorder are complex and not fully understood today.
A study conducted by Martínez-González MA. Ph.D. from the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health of the University of Navarra, Pamplona, had 2862 female individuals between the ages of 12 - 21 years and revealed that among the risk factors for the development of this disorder are:
- Individuals usually eat without the company of other people
- The parents are not married
- Listen / Watch radio/television programs that promote superficial fashion and lifestyle standards or encourage “the perfect body”
There are different investigations that suggest a strong correlation between the endocannabinoid system and eating disorders, including obesity.
Phytocannabinoids as Novel Agents Against Eating Disorders
Cannabidiol (CBD) as one of the main phytocannabinoids has generated a solid body of evidence in preclinical and clinical studies to be used as a potential therapeutic alternative in different models of diseases and chronic disorders (cancer, epilepsy, anorexia, diabetes, etc.).
It is important to note that in studies aimed at revealing the response to high concentrations of CBD administration, it has been found that CBD is very well tolerated, capable of penetrating the blood-brain barrier, with no signs of toxicity, genotoxicity or mutagenicity, becoming tolerated concentrations as high as 1500 mg in clinical trials with humans. The anxiolytic effects of CBD have been extensively investigated in preclinical models, researchers Zuardi and Karniol found that CBD concentrations of 10mg / kg significantly reduced conditioned emotional responses in murine models.
This is another of the bases for the promising effectiveness of cannabinoids within disease models such as anorexia. An anxiolytic effect could free the patients from the constant worry they may have when eating the necessary food, and allow them not to focus on negative self-destructive behaviors (vomiting, purging).
On the other hand, studies in animals and humans indicate that molecules and compounds with the ability to activate CB1 receptors can lead to an appetite stimulus, thus increasing the value by CBD as a candidate for the modulation and regulation of these receptors found in Our Endocannabinoid System.
Finally, it is always important to mention that neurochemical and preclinical behavioral evidence supports the role of the endocannabinoid system in eating disorders, and that to date the psychiatric side effects derived from the use of molecules such as CBD have been extremely rare, even showing a Safe pharmacological profile when using more than 1500mg of CBD per day.
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