One of the most easily observed and accepted effects of weed on the body is a stimulation of appetite. This effect has been documented empirically throughout multiple civilizations for centuries. Only in the last few decades have scientists been able to start identifying the process taking place within our bodies that causes this reaction. This process is a stimulation of our internal cannabinoid system through the consumption of phytocannabinoids, mainly THC.
For most people, an increased appetite is a non-issue at its worst, but for others it can have positive effects on nutritional health and dramatically increase quality of life. The specific group I am referring to is users of medical marijuana for the treatment of cancer-related symptoms. Whether the patient’s appetite has been decreased directly from cancer or whether chemotherapy is the main culprit, revitalizing it through the consumption of marijuana can be of immense relief to cancer sufferers.
The Endocannabinoid System
Within the human body is a system that has garnered a significant amount of research in recent years, the endocannabinoid system. This system is a lot like the opioid system, which has been under study for a long time as well, in that it runs throughout the body and provides a multitude of benefits including pain relief and mood control when active.
Our bodies can use this system through its own creation of cannabinoids, and it does this naturally when a certain need arises that the cannabinoid system can fill. However, it can also be activated through synthesization of external cannabinoids, or more specifically, phytocannabinoids. Cannabis is known to be densely concentrated in these highly effective cannabinoids with the main active chemical being THC.
Effectiveness for Cancer Patients
There are numerous studies that surround the positive effects of weed on cancer patients, but I want to focus on one in particular published in Annals of Oncology on Feb 2011. This study focused on changes in appetite and quality of life (QOL) in patients who used medical marijuana versus a placebo.
The results were relatively unsurprising and mainly helped to confirm previously observable behavior, that is that weed can be a powerful booster of appetite. Caloric intake was relatively unaffected, but patients asserted that the food they ate “tasted better” and this allowed them to eat foods that were otherwise undesirable before, especially meats and proteins. These findings were documented as increases in QOL.
Additionally, the research showed that sleep and relaxation were also increased in marijuana users, which is also a significant increase in QOL. However, there was no indication as to whether these increases were due to the cannabis or more complete nutrition due to a healthier appetite.
Yet Another Benefit of Marijuana
Marijuana has been a haven for many who suffer from lack of appetite and malnourishment, and the research here further backs what can be seen through the lens of common sense. As scientists continue to focus on the effects of weed on the body, they are sure to uncover more rewarding discoveries that will help modern medicine better treat the sufferers of debilitating diseases such as cancer. I hope you will continue with me in my conversation regarding what the impact of weed truly is on individuals and society.