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Can Medical Marijuana Help Increase or Suppress Appetite?

Appetite loss is a common symptom of numerous conditions that can lead to life-threatening consequences like cachexia and organ failure. Scientific studies prove that medical marijuana for appetite loss can be an effective answer. 

At LeafMed in Mississippi, we’re passionate about helping you understand all the beneficial effects of medical cannabis. View our guide if you’re unsure how to get a medical marijuana card in Mississippi. Below, we discuss everything you need to know about medical marijuana for appetite stimulation. 

Improving Appetite Loss With Medical Marijuana

Whether you suffer from a slightly low appetite in general or severe nausea and low satiety due to other conditions or prescription medications, you’re likely constantly looking for a solution to improve your quality of life. While medical marijuana may not cure appetite loss, it can improve symptoms.

Reasons Why Appetite Loss Occurs

Hundreds of conditions and medications can cause varying levels of appetite loss. A few common conditions include the following:

  • Anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder inflicting approximately one in 200 American women with only a 30% to 40% recovery rate  
  • Heartburn, caused by acid reflux, resulting in painful burning and irritation in the throat and stomach
  • Pregnancy, often causing nausea and food aversions
  • Common colds or flus, resulting in a weakened immune system that can cause nausea and appetite loss
  • Hepatitis, a liver disease that can cause reduced satiety and nausea
  • Thyroid conditions, preventing your thyroid from creating the hormones responsible for triggering hunger cues
  • Dementia-related conditions, causing individuals to forget when to eat
  • Depression, occasionally resulting in a lack of interest in food
  • HIV or AIDS, typically associated with weight loss and reduced hunger
  • Cancer and cancer therapies, causing severe nausea and appetite loss

How Terpenes and Cannabinoids Can Stimulate Appetite Cues

Medical marijuana increases appetite cues in a few ways. To start, the plant includes terpenes and essential oils, contributing to the beneficial effects. Medical marijuana for appetite stimulation does not rely on these terpenes, though they can amplify effects.

The following terpenes may increase hunger:

  • Myrcene: Myrcene is a common additive and flavoring agent found in parsley, mango, thyme, bay leaf, and lemongrass that may improve hunger cues. 
  • Caryophyllene: Caryophyllene, found in oregano, black pepper, basil, and clovers, can stimulate appetite levels by targeting your body’s cannabinoid receptors
  • Limonene: In clinical trials, limonene, a compound in lemons, peppermint, and rosemary, increased and suppressed appetites, leading to mixed results, depending on the subject. Different strains of medical marijuana can occasionally suppress appetites, causing weight loss.  
  • Pinene: Pinene appears in rosemary, basil, dill, and conifer trees and can improve appetites when working as an active compound in medical marijuana. 

Aside from terpenes, medical marijuana contains two critical compounds that can induce hunger. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in marijuana, can improve hunger cues by stimulating cannabinoid receptors, making you think you’re hungry and making food taste better in some cases. Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-psychoactive compound that can also stimulate your appetite using several molecular targets. 

Clinical Research Supporting Marijuana’s Effectiveness

In a systematic review of five placebo-controlled clinical trials, medical cannabis yielded promising results in improving appetite levels, particularly in individuals with cancer. Participants tolerated the doses well with minimal side effects and saw improved appetites compared to control groups. 

Research implies that severe weight loss from cancer (cachexia syndrome) affects approximately 50% to 80% of patients, causing 25% of cancer-related deaths. The potential for medical marijuana to improve satiety in cancer patients shows a promising path forward. While cannabis may not cure cancer, it could alleviate one of its fatal symptoms. 

LeafMed: Helping You Unlock the Power of Medical Marijuana

Now that you know the benefits of medical marijuana for appetite loss, continue learning about picking the right medical marijuana strains for your needs. At LeafMed, we’re passionate about helping you unlock all the benefits of medical marijuana. Call us today with any questions, or visit your local LeafMed medical marijuana dispensary in Mississippi.