Young people are becoming increasingly susceptible to eating disorders. There are few things that the young person can ultimately decide for themselves and sometimes the nausea breaks out in the things that are in their hands; for eating and moving. This article discusses eating disorders, looks at how the endocannabinoid system works behind them and finds out whether CBD oil could be helpful in supporting the treatment of eating disorders.
Eating disorders that especially affect young and young adult women are sometimes even life-threatening, so-called spectrum disorders, the symptoms of which are diverse and often imperceptible at first. The symptoms are related to eating, movement and psychological challenges, the existence and severity of which the sufferer himself is not always willing to admit. (1)
According to estimates, by adulthood, every sixth woman and every 40 the man has had an eating disorder of some degree. The vast majority of these cases heal on their own without professional help, but sometimes ward treatment in a hospital is needed. (2)
Eating disorders are associated with a strong distortion of body image. The patient’s thoughts revolve largely around food, the body, for losing weight and in matters related to movement, and as a result, many other activities that normally fill everyday life, such as hobbies and social relationships, receive less attention. (3)
The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.
Many factors trigger an eating disorder
An eating disorder is the sum of many factors. Its onset is promoted by heredity as well as self-esteem and trauma. Social and environmental challenges and pressures are also behind the emergence of the disease. (2,3,4,5)
Symptoms of eating disorders
Eating disorders are all different from each other, but within each disease they cause common symptoms, on the basis of which the disease picture is formed. Common to all eating disorders is an excessive judgment of body image and the challenges associated with eating and exercise caused by it.
Eating disorder test
Whenever you suspect that you or a loved one has an eating disorder, it’s a good idea to talk to a professional. However, the Mielenterveystalo.fi site also has a test (eating disorder screen) that allows you to assess your own eating and exercise behavior with a low threshold in relation to your own body image and weight.
The test related to eating disorder can be found behind this link; Eating Disorder Screener (SCOFF) | Mielenterveystalo.fi .
Thinness disorder or anorexia (anorexia nervosa) is one of the most common eating disorders. It is estimated that about one percent of young people suffer from it and it can lead to serious malnutrition problems, sometimes even death. Anorexia is basically a mental illness that is easy to diagnose but challenging to notice. Unfortunately, the disease picture often includes secrecy and covering up of symptoms, which complicates both the diagnosis and the detection of the disease. (4)
Anorexia is associated with a strong body loathing, which most often has nothing to do with reality. In addition, the disease involves extreme control and monitoring of weight, and even complete lack of food, resulting in physical and psychological symptoms related to malnutrition, such as severe weight loss, lack of concentration, brain fog, etc. are due to. Often, those suffering from thinness disorder are successful young people who demand perfection from themselves!
At its worst, anorexia can cause osteoporosis, diseases caused by malnutrition, and sometimes even death.
Anorexia is a serious mental health challenge that takes a long time to recover from. The person suffering from it needs understanding, support, presence and stopping. A conversation with an experienced expert can be life-changing, and a meeting with one is recommended for both the patient and his close circle. There is always hope.
Binge eating disorder (bulimia nervosa) refers to an eating disorder, the most obvious symptom of which is binge eating of unhealthy foods and vomiting or vigorous exercise very soon after eating.
A person suffering from bulimia momentarily loses a sense of control over their own eating and tries to correct the situation by vomiting or exercise, sometimes both. An attack is often the result of feelings related to shame, failure, etc., and these feelings may not necessarily have anything to do with food.
Binge eating disorder usually starts later than eating disorder, but is also more common. Bulimia is more a disease of young women, but it also occurs to some extent among young men. (5)
Adult eating disorder
Unfortunately, an adult eating disorder often goes unnoticed, especially if the disease only starts at an older age. It is true that eating disorders are largely diseases of young people, but sometimes adults also have symptoms related to a distorted body image, which cause challenges with eating. Eating disorders such as bulimia and binge eating disorder are significantly more common in adults, and these symptoms are often accompanied by strong shame, which is why the matter is hidden even from one’s own family.
Eating disorder treatment
Healing from an eating disorder is a long process. The more serious the condition, the longer it takes to recover and usually the treatment is very much focused on therapy and rehabilitation. A multiprofessional team should be involved in the treatment, in addition to awakening the patient’s own desire for treatment and desire to heal. The most common reason for treatment failure is the patient’s own reluctance to accept help.
The endocannabinoid system behind eating disorders
The endocannabinoid system is behind all the body’s processes, making sure that everything works perfectly. The overall function of the endocannabinoid system is to take care of survival, i.e. the so-called survival of life. about basic things such as sleeping, eating and the processes behind them. One of the most important functions of the endocannabinoid system is to monitor functions related to energy intake, such as energy storage.
The underlying factor behind eating disorders is an imbalance in the signaling of the hormone leptin, which affects appetite and energy balance. The activity of this hormone is regulated by the brain’s hypothalamus, whose endocannabinoids are part of the nervous system that controls energy and leptin. (6,7)
The body’s own cannabinoids
The body itself produces cannabinoids when needed, where they are needed, and they are not stored goods. Several endocannabinoids work in the body, two of which are better known, anandamide and 2-AG .
Endocannabinoids have been found to regulate appetite in many different ways (6,7) and they affect the response in the background of eating disorders, the purpose of which is to increase appetite (8). On the other hand, among people who suffer from binge eating, endocannabinoids may also be involved in the factors that increase eating.
According to research, the anandamide levels in the blood of people suffering from anorexia are slightly elevated while the 2-AG levels are normal, but the endocannabinoid levels in the blood of people suffering from bulimia are normal compared to healthy blood. (7)
Two cannabinoid receptors are currently known, but there are a few more candidates for these receptors, about which we will get more information as research progresses. The most well-known, CB1 and CB2 receptors, are receptors found throughout the body, to which endocannabinoids respond.
In eating disorders, there is no significant deviation in receptor function, but a slight increase in the CB1 receptor has been observed in both anorexia and bulimia. (7)
CBD for an eating disorder
CBD (cannabidiol) is a natural compound found in the hemp plant, a cannabinoid that, according to research, has numerous health-promoting effects. Hemp and the compounds it contains have been studied for a long time and quite a number of them have already been identified. Cannabinoids alone, the most famous of which are THC and CBD, more than 120 different compounds have been found and other compounds such as terpenes, flavonoids etc. more than 450. CBD has been studied extensively for decades and has been found in several studies to be a safe and well-tolerated natural product.
To support the treatment of eating disorders, CBD oil is mainly used for its appetite-regulating effects, but CBD has other properties that may be useful for the patient. CBD has been researched to relieve anxiety and depression symptoms, helps to think outside the box and also improves appetite. It might have positive effect on sleep quality and it calms both the nervous system and the inflammatory state of the body .
Eating disorders are strongly associated with a sense of power, which stems from controlling one’s own eating and appetite. CBD also affects reward behavior, which is an underlying process related to the satisfaction of the basic needs associated with eating.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is an appetite-stimulating cannabinoid
One of the numerous cannabinoids is CBG (cannabigerol) and it has been found in animal experiments to increase appetite as effectively as THC, but without any psychoactive effect. There has been some research into the use of CBG to treat anorexia and other eating disorders, and it appears to be a potential cannabinoid to both prevent anorexia and even promote the recovery process. (8)
Eating disorders are a serious mental health-based illness, the recovery of which can be a struggle of years, even for the rest of your life. These diseases are largely completely treatable and the earlier the disease is noticed, the easier it is to restore physical health. According to studies, CBD is a natural product with numerous health-supporting properties and may also have a beneficial effect on various eating disorders through various mechanisms of action. More studies are needed, but it seems that CBD oil could very well be a form of support for future eating disorder treatments!
- A working group set up by Duodecim of the Finnish Medical Society, the Finnish Children’s Psychiatry Association and the Finnish Psychiatry Association. 2014. Valid treatment recommendation. Eating disorders. https://www.kaypahoito.fi/hoi50101. Referred on 12/19/2022.
- Ruuska J.. 2022. Doctor’s book Duodecim. Eating disorders. https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/dlk01320. Referred on 12/19/2022
- Information about eating disorders. Eating Disorder Association. https://syomishairioliitto.fi/tietoa/tietoa-syomishairioista. Referred on 12/19/2022.
- Ruuska J.. 2021. Duodecim health library. Anorexia nervosa. https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/dlk00111. Referred on 12/19/2022.
- Ruuska J.. 2021. Duodecim health library. Binge eating disorder (Bulimia nervosa).
- Monteleone P., Matias I., Martiadis V., De Petrocelis L., Maj M. and Di Marzo V.. 2005. Neuropsychopharmacology. Blood Levels of the Endocannabinoid Anandamide are Increased in Anorexia Nervosa and in Binge-Eating Disorder, but not in Bulimia Nervosa. https://www.nature.com/articles/1300695#auth-Palmiero-Monteleone. Referred on 12/19/2022.
- Marco ME, Romero-Zerbo SY, Vivero MP. and Bermudez-Silva FJ. 2012. Behavioral Pharmacology. The role of the endocannabinoid system in eating disorders: Pharmacological implications. https://www.bloomble.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/The-role-of-the-endocannabinoid-system-in-eating-disorders-pharmacological-implications.pdf. Referred on 12/19/2022.
- https://fi.cannabis-mag.com/cbg-tehokas-luonnollinen-korjaus-lanorexiaa-vastaan/. Referred on 12/19/2022