Eating disorders are not only dangerous to the body, they can affect your mental health as well. Some eating disorders can have life-threatening consequences. In this guide we’ll explain how eating disorders affect the body, the mental health side effects and how cannabis can help with combatting eating disorders while aiding recovery.
Effects on the Body
Eating disorders cause the body to become malnourished and dehydrated. This can have residual effects on bone mass, muscle strength and the internal organs. Deficiencies can occur that lead to additional health conditions and damage to the organs.
If someone is struggling with anorexia or bulimia, they often force themselves to vomit (purge) or intentionally starve themselves. This can cause inflammation of the intestines, can alter the gag reflex, can damage the esophagus and have other detrimental results.
For others, the thought of food alone can make them nauseous or cause the body to naturally start to reject food, inducing chronic nausea. This often leads to a lack of interest in food.
Severe anorexia can result in death. Data indicates that about 12.8-percent of those with anorexia do not survive their illness.
Mental Health Side Effects
There are cases of eating disorders that have been caused by body shaming, bullying and social perceptions. This can lead to low self-esteem, a poor body image of one’s self, depression, anxiety and other mental health side effects. These side effects can be treated with medication, but not having the necessary vitamins and nutrients from food in the body can cause those medications to do more harm to the body.
Depression and anxiety can become severe. The increased stress from the additional judgment often leads to feelings of guilt. Increased stress can cause the symptoms of the eating disorder to become more severe. This can also lead to self-harming and insomnia.
Cannabis May Improve Appetite
It is hard for someone with an eating disorder to learn that food is not the enemy. The body needs food to stay strong and healthy. Nutrition guidance is often offered to those with eating disorders to help introduce a new method of eating so that they can see that eating the proper foods and maintaining a healthy exercise routine can keep them looking beautiful. For many, they don’t like how their body looks or aren’t happy with the composition of their bodies. Skeletal changes cannot be made, but properly toning the body can help someone with an eating disorder look properly proportioned to the point where they can accept how they look in the mirror.
Some strains of cannabis can help improve the appetite, making someone with an eating disorder want to eat. This is dangerous for someone that is not in recovery or hasn’t started a healthy eating plan yet. What’s known as “the munchies” can induce binge eating, so it is important to only microdose. Introducing healthy amounts of food is ideal.
When some cannabis strains are ingested, they activate the body’s natural reward system. So, if someone with an eating disorder were to complete a workout, then use a little bit of cannabis, the body is going to want to be rewarded with food.
Strains that increase appetite include:
- Pineapple Express
- Orange Kush
- GSC (Formerly known as Girl Scout Cookies)
- Lavender Kush
- Blue Widow
- Maui Bubble Gift (rare strain)
- Platinum Purple Kush
- Sonoma Coma
- Giga Bud
- Pure Kush
- Sensi Star
- Kosher Kush
- Mango Kush
- Larry OG
- Skywalker OG
As we suggested above, it is ideal to microdose these strains. Microdosing will induce a bit of hunger, but not make you want to eat everything in the house. Prepare your meal prior to medicating and just use about 3-hits from a joint or pipe. This will also keep the effects minimal. Some of these strains may also help with pain management, stress relief, depression, anxiety and insomnia.
Mood swings are common for those with eating disorders. Irritability, irrational thoughts and compulsive behaviors can occur. Depression and anxiety may also set in. These can be controlled with medications, but for those with an eating disorder, the gastrointestinal disruption may cause pharmaceuticals to induce nausea. The body may reject these medications.
Cannabis may be an all-natural approach to improving your mood and reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Maintaining a balanced mood is an important part of recovery. When you feel happy, you’re more inclined to make healthy choices and see yourself in a positive light.
Eating disorders often mask personal perception, induce unhappiness and may lead to isolation.
Cannabis may help you return to social interaction, smile more and see yourself as beautiful.
Strains that improve mood include:
- Pineapple Express – mentioned above to increase appetite but also helps with depression, generating energy and inducing happiness
- Harlequin – low-THC strain to improve mood and induce happiness, while promoting focus
- Granddaddy Purple – increases appetite while creating happiness and uplifting the spirit
- Lemon Kush – may also help improve the appetite
- Jack Herer
- Laughing Buddha
- Blue Magoo
- Sour Kush
- Sour Diesel – may help with depression, mood swings and lack of appetite
- Blue Dream
- AK-47 – for depression
It is important to review all of the information available on a cannabis strain before ingesting it. You want to make sure that the effects are what you need, that it will help the symptom you’re attempting to alleviate and that you don’t experience negative effects that you wish to avoid. Cannabis can be an effective tool for those struggling with mental health issues stemming from an eating disorder, or vice versa.
Being able to laugh, smile and feel happy is an important part of recovery. When it doesn’t come naturally, your body may need a little help releasing dopamine. Cannabis can do that. It helps the body want to be rewarded, want to feel good and it’s hard to ignore the happy, energetic feelings you could have.
Eating disorders don’t have to result in hospitalizations and near-death experiences. Recognizing the warning signs early, and getting help may save your life or the life of someone you love. Proper medical treatment, support and guidance are important steps to a full recovery and will help you learn to love yourself again. Cannabis can be an important part of your healthy recovery, and you may be able to forego ingesting a few pharmaceuticals in the process.