Can Medical Marijuana Help Missourians With Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders are a very serious issue that can cause lasting physical and mental harm to those who suffer from them. Missouri residents who are battling conditions such as bulimia and anorexia may be encouraged to hear that medical marijuana may be an ally on their journey towards recovery.
Studies are showing that cannabis can help increase appetite and reduce anxiety in ways that can make having a medical marijuana card an essential tool for those battling eating disorders.
Eating Disorders Can Be Deadly
There are many types of eating disorders, and all of them are serious. If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, we recommend consulting with a medical professional and getting help. After reading this article, you may want to consult your physician about the possibility of adding medical marijuana to your treatment plan.
According to the American Society for Nutrition, eating disorders affect approximately 24 million people, and are “among the deadliest of mental illnesses, second only to opioid addiction.” (Sidebar - If you are struggling with opioid addiction, you may want to consider medical marijuana, which is helping many patients in their struggle with opioids.)
Eating disorders result in over 10,000 deaths per year. If there is a chance medical marijuana could save the life of you or a loved one, or help them on the road to recovery, it’s worth your time to consider.
Common Eating Disorders - Anorexia and Bulimia
This article will focus primarily on Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia - the two most common eating disorders.
Anorexia nervosa, often shortened simply to “anorexia,” is defined by The Mayo Clinic as “an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of weight.” Those who suffer from anorexia may go to extreme measures to lose or maintain their weight.
Sometimes, those who are anorexic may severely restrict their caloric intake. They may vomit after eating, misuse laxatives, diet aids, and use items such as enemas to expel the food that they have taken in. The extreme measures often taken by those battling anorexia may lead to life threatening circumstances. Those suffering from anorexia fear weight gain, and often equate self-worth with how thin they are.
Bulimia nervosa, often shortened to “bulimia,” is another common eating disorder. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that bulimia is “characterized by overeating (often referred to as “bingeing”), followed by “purging,” wherein the food is expelled through means such as vomiting or misusing laxatives.”
Bulimia can cause serious physical complications, such as a stomach rupture, heart problems due to a loss of vital minerals, kidney problems, a diminished sex drive, depression, and even suicidal behavior.
While those with anorexia may be detectable due to extreme weight loss and a below-normal body weight, those suffering from bulimia may be able to hide their disorder from loved ones for years, because they tend to keep a body weight that is typically normal or above normal. Because of this, the disorder often goes untreated for a very long period and becomes more ingrained and harder to change.
The Battle is Mental
While the symptoms and many of the resulting issues stemming from eating disorders are physical, anorexia and bulimia are mental disorders. According to a profile on eating disorders provided by ReThink, a nonprofit dedicated to re-shaping the way the world thinks about mental illness, many specialists believe eating disorders develop due to a mix of psychological, genetic, and environmental factors.
Some of the psychological factors include:
Being vulnerable to depression and anxiety
Having a hard time dealing with stress
Worrying about the future
Being a perfectionist
Difficulty controlling emotions
Obsessive of compulsive feelings
Fear (possibly caused by societal pressure) of being fat
Some of the environmental factors may be
Pressure at school
Criticism of body shape
Criticism of eating habits
Having a job or hobby where being thin is idealized
Having difficult family or romantic relationships
There are also genetic factors that could cause an eating disorder, such as a change in brain or hormone levels or a family history of eating disorders, as well as depression or substance abuse and addictive personalities.
How Can Medical Marijuana Help?
For those suffering from an eating disorder, the very act of sitting down for a meal or grabbing a snack can cause feelings of fear and anxiety. Where others see food as something enjoyable that fuels our bodies, those who have an eating disorder see it very differently.
Someone with anorexia may feel pressure the moment food arrives, because of the expectation that they will eat. The food will have calories, which may lead to weight gain. They often believe they have to hide these feelings, which exacerbates the feelings of anxiety.
Someone suffering from bulimia often goes back and forth from stages of depriving themselves from food, to a loss of self control, followed by grief, which leads to purging. This condition can be cyclical in nature, with anxiety followed by a loss of control, followed by guilt and depression.
Medical marijuana can help in many ways as an aid to those suffering from an eating disorder. In a profile for Vice, Dr. Beth Braun, a psychologist who resides in Los Angeles says that she’s seen “greater success with her clients who smoke weed than those who take psychotropic drugs.” She supports it in the cases she’s seen where it helps them feel better and helps them start eating.
Cannabis Helps With Anxiety, Mood, and Focus
One of the primary ways that medical marijuana may help patients with eating disorders is the way cannabis helps to battle anxiety. Medical marijuana can instill a feeling of calmness that can help stop thoughts from spiraling out of control. It can promote mood, help with relaxation, and help those who are battling an eating disorder focus on the logic of why eating is important for their health.
The Munchies Are Real - Real Helpful
Another way that medical marijuana can help those with eating disorders is a bit of a stereotype, but in this case, it’s true, and it’s helpful. Cannabis can give you the munchies.
Medical marijuana can heighten the senses as it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors, causing food to smell and taste better. It enhances appetite, and when you’re struggling to make the eating experience something enjoyable, cannabis can go a long way on the road to recovery.
This Patient Endorses Cannabis in Her Fight Against Anorexia
In a profile on cannabis for eating disorders in Cosmopolitan Magazine, a patient named Jennifer detailed her experience using marijuana to help in her battle against anorexia. She states that after just a couple hits of cannabis, "I'm finally able to feel hungry instead of nauseous and uncomfortable.”
She continues “"I'm able to step back and see my irrational thoughts for what they are — irrational — and it gives me the space to look at it and go, 'Wow, that's a ridiculous thought to have; nothing bad is going to happen to me if I eat this piece of pizza.'"
Jessica also says. "It also makes food taste better and eating more enjoyable, which is nice because chronic anorexia messes with your digestive tract and can sort of break your natural hunger cues."
Jennifer tried other medications, and prefers marijuana over pills. "Prozac and Lexapro took away my anxiety, but they made me feel numb, apathetic, and flat, just like my eating disorder," She continues, "Marijuana does the opposite. It heightens my senses and makes me feel more connected with my emotions and the world around me."
We’re Here to Help You Get Relief With Cannabis
Whether you are battling an eating disorder or are considering cannabis for one of the other hundreds of medical conditions that it can help with, all you’ll need is a Missouri medical marijuana card. If you don’t have your card yet, we can help. Our doctors are standing by to take you through a quick and easy evaluation to see if you qualify. Schedule an appointment with a marijuana physician online by CLICKING HERE, or give us a call at (877) 303-3117 to talk to a patient support representative.
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
At Missouri Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (877) 303-3117, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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