Medical Cannabis for Eating Disorders

Here are some medical cannabis research studies that have been carried out into the use of medical cannabis for eating disorders, including anorexia and obesity.

Deranged endocannabinoid responses to hedonic eating in underweight and recently weight-restored patients with anorexia nervosa.
2015 February

Background

A dysregulation of reward mechanisms was suggested in the pathophysiology of anorexia nervosa (AN), but the role of the endogenous mediators of reward has been poorly investigated. Endocannabinoids, including anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, and the endocannabinoid-related compounds oleoylethanolamide and palmitoylethanolamide modulate food-related and unrelated reward. Hedonic eating, which is the consumption of food just for pleasure and not homeostatic need, is a suitable paradigm to explore food-related reward.

Objective

We investigated responses of endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid-related compounds to hedonic eating in AN.

Design

Peripheral concentrations of anandamide, 2-arachidonoylglycerol, oleoylethanolamide, and palmitoylethanolamide were measured in 7 underweight and 7 weight-restored AN patients after eating favorite and nonfavorite foods in the condition of no homeostatic needs, and these measurements were compared with those of previously studied healthy control subjects.

Results

  • In healthy controls, plasma 2-arachidonoylglycerol concentrations decreased after both types of meals but were significantly higher in hedonic eating; in underweight AN patients, 2-arachidonoylglycerol concentrations did not show specific time patterns after eating either favorite or nonfavorite foods, whereas in weight-restored patients, 2-arachidonoylglycerol concentrations showed similar increases with both types of meals.
  • Anandamide plasma concentrations exhibited no differences in their response patterns to hedonic eating in the groups
  • Compared with 2-arachidonoylglycerol, palmitoylethanolamide concentrations exhibited an opposite response pattern to hedonic eating in healthy controls; this pattern was partially preserved in underweight AN patients but not in weight-restored ones.
  • Like palmitoylethanolamide, oleoylethanolamide plasma concentrations tended to be higher in nonhedonic eating than in hedonic eating in healthy controls; moreover, no difference between healthy subjects and AN patients was observed for food-intake-induced changes in oleoylethanolamide concentrations.

Conclusion

These data confirm that endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid-related compounds are involved in food-related reward and suggest a dysregulation of their physiology in AN.

Neural Effects of Cannabinoid CB1 Neutral Antagonist Tetrahydrocannabivarin on Food Reward and Aversion in Healthy Volunteers.
2014 December

Universities of Reading and Oxford, UK.

Background

Disturbances in the regulation of reward and aversion in the brain may underlie disorders such as obesity and eating disorders. We previously showed that the cannabis receptor subtype (CB1) inverse agonist rimonabant, an antiobesity drug withdrawn due to depressogenic side effects, diminished neural reward responses yet increased aversive responses (Horder et al., 2010). Unlike rimonabant, tetrahydrocannabivarin is a neutral CB1 receptor antagonist (Pertwee, 2005) and may therefore produce different modulations of the neural reward system. We hypothesized that tetrahydrocannabivarin would, unlike rimonabant, leave intact neural reward responses but augment aversive responses.

Methods

We used a within-subject, double-blind design. Twenty healthy volunteers received a single dose of tetrahydrocannabivarin (10mg) and placebo in randomized order on 2 separate occasions. We measured the neural response to rewarding (sight and/or flavor of chocolate) and aversive stimuli (picture of moldy strawberries and/or a less pleasant strawberry taste) using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Volunteers rated pleasantness, intensity, and wanting for each stimulus.

Results

There were no significant differences between groups in subjective ratings. However, tetrahydrocannabivarin increased responses to chocolate stimuli in the midbrain, anterior cingulate cortex, caudate, and putamen. Tetrahydrocannabivarin also increased responses to aversive stimuli in the amygdala, insula, mid orbitofrontal cortex, caudate, and putamen.

Conclusion

Our findings are the first to show that treatment with the CB1 neutral antagonist tetrahydrocannabivarin increases neural responding to rewarding and aversive stimuli. This effect profile suggests therapeutic activity in obesity, perhaps with a lowered risk of depressive side effects.

Therapeutic Cannabis Vs Medical Marijuana

Is there a difference between medical cannabis and medical marijuana? No, not really. The general population tends to refer to cannabis as marijuana, but those involved in the research and medical use of it tend to refer to it as cannabis because that’s its scientific name and because marijuana is associated with the recreational use. (It’s also sometimes referred to as medicinal hemp oil.)