Given its infamous nature of producing insatiable cases of the “munchies,” it’s definitely no secret that marijuana is great at increasing appetite. In fact, you’re likely well aware that one of medical marijuana’s most common uses is to promote appetite in chronically ill patients suffering from the likes of cancer, aids, or related challenges like cachexia (wasting syndrome).
However, these patients are typically treated with cannabis that is high in the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. In other words, “typical” marijuana that provides an associated cerebral high.
But what about cannabis-derived CBD oil? I have written in length about the differences between CBD and THC, and you should know by now that unlike THC, CBD does not produce a mind-altering effect. So for patients that want to use cannabis to promote their eating habits and natural nutrition intake, but don’t necessarily want to get high, is CBD oil for increased appetite a viable treatment?
In this article, I look at some existing scientific and clinical evidence to try and determine some sort of a conclusion.
CBD Oil for Increased Appetite: Not Quite the Same as “Regular” Marijuana
The list of medicinal uses for CBD oil is massive: it has been clinically documented to help treat such far ranging conditions as cancer, diabetes, anxiety, depression, sleep and mood disorders, chronic pain, and much more. However, there hasn’t been much (or any) specific research on CBD oil for increased appetite, truth be told.
Like I mentioned in the introduction, the majority of high-profile cases you’ve heard about in terms of cannabis being used as an appetite-inducing medicine, have likely been carried out with “regular” marijuana that contains lots of THC, or even synthetic versions of THC such as dronabinol (marketed as Marinol).
That being said, however, discussions have been produced in depth with regard to cannabinoids (such as CBD) and appetite. In fact, the National Cancer Institute diligently discusses the role of active cannabis compounds in promoting appetite. After one clinical trial involving 139 patients with HIV/AIDS, for example, it was observed that there was a “statistically significant” increase in appetite after 4 to 6 weeks of treatment with dronabinol, as compared to administration of placebo.
However, there have to date not been any published studies on the effects of inhaled cannabis and appetite control in cancer patients.
CBD Oil for Loss of Appetite: A Hand-in-Hand Relationship
The chemical and physiological conditions of decreased appetite are myriad – there can be any number of reasons why an individual may experience a decreased interest in food. However, whatever the specific causes of low appetite are, it signifies an unhealthy change in the internal workings of the body, and this is where CBD oil comes in.
One potential cause of onset decreased appetite, for example, is thought to be excessively firing chemical signals in the nervous system that disrupt the normative functioning of the digestive system. According to an article published by Herb.co, when CBD is used as a neuroprotectant and antioxidant (which coincidentally it is patented for by the U.S. government) the firing signals are slowed, the digestive system “calms down,” and appetite is (potentially) restored.
Moreover, CBD oil for increased appetite is largely thought to be productive based on its effectiveness as an anti-nausea therapy. In fact, there are currently eight published high-profile studies listed on Project CBD (a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the transparency of CBD research) that deal specifically with the active CBD compound and nausea.
One of these studies, which involved manipulation of autoreceptors in shrews and rats, came to a definitive conclusion that the “non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD)” was able to reduce the occurrence and intensity of vomiting and “nausea-like behavior” by indirectly influencing somatodendritic receptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus. Although this sounds super scientific (and is likely incomprehensible to the average reader), it essentially just means that CBD worked as an effective nausea-reducer in a controlled, laboratory setting.
Thus, for patients who experience chronic intense nausea as a subsequent effect of chemotherapy, autoimmune deficiency, or any other kind of medical challenge, CBD oil and its anti-nausea properties may very well prove to be an effective, safe, and all-natural therapy – though much more clinical research is certainly needed.
It’s Possible That Appetite is Largely Regulated by the Endocannabinoid System
Like I mentioned, any decrease in appetite – no matter the cause – ultimately comes down to some chemical pathway or internal system of the body being thrown out of homeostasis, which is a crucial process of internal regulation that’s maintained in large part by the endocannabinoid system, or ECS.
And this, to put it simply, is CBD’s “therapeutic specialty.”
The ECS is a massive network of naturally-occurring neurotransmitters and receptors that work to monitor, regulate, and maintain health and homeostasis on all levels of human life – as NORML’s Dr. Dustin Sulak puts it, from “the sub-cellular, to the organism, and perhaps to the community and beyond.”
As such, the functional capabilities of CBD oil may be able to reverse the physiological condition of decreased appetite, no matter the specific mode of molecular causation. In any event the calming, stabilizing, and health-promoting qualities of cannabidiol certainly have the potential to alleviate the onset of symptoms, if not the actual physiological condition itself.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil and Increased Appetite
Given the lack of clinical research on CBD oil and increased appetite, I cannot sit here and say that non-psychoactive cannabidiol is a viable or recommended treatment for severe forms of low appetite that are brought on by chemotherapy, wasting syndrome, AIDS, cancer, or any other medical challenge.
That being said, however, the well-known calming and anti-nausea effects of the cannabis-derived compound may very well be able to provide quality support and relief for many individuals. In fact, it has already done just that in countless numbers of anecdotal cases.
It has been crystal clear over the years that THC-containing marijuana is a phenomenal tool for stimulating appetite, but the indirect physiological mechanisms of cannabidiol may also prove that CBD oil for increased appetite is an efficient option as well.
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