Cannabidiol And Anorexia: Novel Treatment For Eating Disorders

How is anorexia defined?

Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by eating extremely low amounts of food or losing weight on one’s own until the point of starvation, which can lead to an abnormal perception of one’s body image.

There are two important types of this illness

  • Bulimic subtype: weight loss is achieved through the use of laxatives, induction of vomiting, diuretics and strenuous exercise.
  • Restricted-eating subtype. There is a tendency to maximally restrict calorie and food intake in order to achieve weight loss.

The condition is particularly complex in relation to patients diagnosed with advanced cancer and is seen as an important factor in limiting the patient’s quality of life beyond the chronic and severe pain caused by treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Anorexia involves a combination of very different factors that determine its occurrence. Biological factors, psychological factors and above all social factors affect most people. Obesity in one parent, poor school performance, separation of parents and traumatic events are just a few examples of triggers for the development of this disease.

The factors that influence the development of this disease are complex and not yet fully understood.

In a study conducted by Martínez-González, Master and Doctor of the Faculty of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, which surveyed 2,862 people aged between 12 and 21, it was found that among the risk factors for developing the disease:

  • Individuals usually eating without the company of other people
  • Parents are not married
  • Listening to radio/TV programmes that recommend superficial fashion or lifestyle standards or offer incentives to achieve the “perfect body”

Several studies suggest a strong correlation between the endocannabinoid system and eating disorders, including obesity.

Phytocannabinoids as a new active ingredient for eating disorders

Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the most important phytocannabinoids, has been used in preclinical and clinical studies to treat various disease models and chronic conditions (cancer, epilepsy, anorexia, diabetes, etc.) Pre-clinical and clinical studies have provided solid evidence for its potential use in various disease models and as an alternative treatment for chronic diseases (cancer, epilepsy, anorexia, diabetes etc.).

Studies designed to show the response to high concentrations of CBD have shown that CBD can cross the blood-brain barrier and is very well tolerated, with no evidence of toxicity, genotoxicity or mutagenicity, although concentrations of up to 1200 mg have been permitted in clinical studies. The anxiolytic effects of CBD have been extensively studied in preclinical models. In a mouse model, researchers Zuardi and Karniol found that a 10mg/kg of CBD concentration significantly reduced conditioned emotional responses.

This is yet another indication of the promising efficacy of cannabinoids in disease models such as anorexia. The anxiolytic effect would free patients from the constant worry of consuming the necessary foods and allow them to focus less on negative self-destructive behaviour (vomiting, flushing).

On the other hand, studies on animals and humans have shown that molecules and compounds with the ability to activate CB1 receptors stimulate appetite, increasing the value of CBD as a candidate to modulate and regulate these receptors in the endocannabinoid system.

Finally, it should always be mentioned that CBD negates the psychotropic effects of THC, a type of cannabinoid. In other words, the use of CBD will not produce such an effect.