CBD for Eating Disorder – May 2022
Eating disorders are severe conditions related to persistent eating behaviors that negatively impact health, emotions, and the ability to function in critical areas of life.
Three of the most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder (BED), and bulimia nervosa.
Most eating disorders involve too much focus on weight, body shape, and food, leading to dangerous eating behaviors. These behaviors can significantly impact the body’s ability to obtain appropriate nutrition.
Eating disorders can damage the heart, digestive system, bones, and teeth and mouth, and lead to other diseases (1 ) .
Anxiety , depression , and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are just a few additional mental health diagnoses that frequently co-occur with eating disorders.
A study of more than 2,400 individuals hospitalized for an eating disorder found that 94% of the participants had a coexisting mood disorder (2 ) .
According to The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), recent research has found that 32-39% of individuals with anorexia, 33% of those with BED, and 36-50% of those with bulimia also have depression.
Moreover, 48-51% of individuals with anorexia and 55-65% of those with BED are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. As much as 81% of those with bulimia also have an anxiety disorder (3 ) .
How CBD Can Help With Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is characterized by weight loss, difficulty maintaining appropriate body weight, and a distorted body image (4 ) .
In anorexia’s cycle of self-starvation, the body is denied the essential nutrients it needs to function normally, resulting in serious medical consequences.
CBD may help improve mood associated with anorexia by reducing anxiety. Published in CNS and Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets, a study showed that CBD had therapeutic uses as an anti-anxiety-like and antidepressant-like compound (5 ) .
Researchers of a 2018 study published in the Frontiers in Immunology Journal , also obtained similar results, demonstrating CBD as a potential remedy to depression (6 ) .
Findings in a study support theories that brain networks regulating appetite are disrupted by chronic anxiety or stress in a manner that could promote eating disorders or obesity (7 ) .
Thus, reducing stress levels may help improve mood and encourage healthy eating.
How CBD Can Help With Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder (BED) is a severe, life-threatening, and treatable eating disorder characterized by repetitive episodes of consuming large quantities of food too fast and to the point of discomfort.
BED also brings about a feeling of a loss of control during the binge. Two out of three individuals with BED are labeled clinically obese (8 ) .
Individuals with BED often eat alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much they are eating. Then, they feel disgusted with themselves, depressed, or very guilty afterward.
CBD may help reduce cravings by regulating the body’s reward system so that the cravings are not that severe (9 ) .
CBD, through the actions of the endocannabinoid system, also impacts hormones that regulate appetite.
In a 2008 study , which was published in the PLOS One Journal , researchers investigated the interaction between ghrelin and the cannabinoid systems on the mechanisms underlying appetite regulation (10 ) .
The researchers found that CBD blocks a receptor in the brain of mice so that the neurotransmitter ghrelin, which stimulates the appetite, is unable to act.
They also found that the effects of ghrelin require an increased release of endocannabinoids to stimulate the appetite.
A 2001 animal study published in Nature Journal has shown that CBD could increase the levels of leptin in the brain (11 ) .
Leptin is the hormone that makes an individual feel full or satiated. Taking CBD at the end of an eating period may help curb cravings.
A 2016 study, conducted by researchers from the Department of Biotechnology at Daegu University in Korea, found that CBD might have some impact on turning white fat to brown fat, a process called ‘fat browning’ that purportedly promotes a healthier metabolism (12 ) .
As the ECS also plays a vital role in insulin regulation, the added boost from CBD might support this action.
When insulin transports glucose to the cells, the mitochondria (the cells’ energy factories) transform it into energy. However, when insulin resistance sets in, the mitochondria experience dysfunction.
In 2016, through a lab study that examined the impact of CBD on the metabolic function of fat cells, researchers noted an improvement in mitochondrial function with the application of CBD (13 ) .
According to the researchers, CBD may be explored as a potentially promising therapeutic agent for the prevention of obesity.
How CBD Can Help With Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa is a severe and potentially life-threatening eating disorder that involves a cycle of bingeing and purging behaviors, like self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating (14 ) .
In the same way that CBD may help those with BED, CBD may help individuals with bulimia not to binge.
Individuals with BED always worry or complain about being fat as they have a distorted, excessively negative body image of themselves.
CBD may help individuals with bulimia improve their mood by reducing their anxiety levels. Less worrying may encourage them to eat healthily.
The human body is usually resilient at coping with the stress of eating disorders. Laboratory tests can appear perfect even as someone is at high risk of death.
CBD has been shown to help with eating disorders by reducing anxiety and depression and through its impact on the hormones that regulate mood and appetite.
However, studies on CBD and eating disorders are limited, and the long-term effects of CBD remain unknown.
Cannabidiol (CBD)-what we know and what we don’t
Cannabidiol (CBD) is often covered in the media, and you may see it touted as an add-in booster to your post-workout smoothie or morning coffee. You can even buy a CBD-infused sports bra. But what exactly is CBD? And why is it so popular?
How is cannabidiol different from marijuana, cannabis and hemp?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, a cousin of marijuana, or manufactured in a laboratory. One of hundreds of components in marijuana, CBD does not cause a “high” by itself. According to a report from the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
Is cannabidiol legal?
CBD is readily obtainable in most parts of the United States, though its exact legal status has been in flux. All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction. In December 2015, the FDA eased the regulatory requirements to allow researchers to conduct CBD trials. In 2018, the Farm Bill made hemp legal in the United States, making it virtually impossible to keep CBD illegal – that would be like making oranges legal, but keeping orange juice illegal.
The Farm Bill removed all hemp-derived products, including CBD, from the Controlled Substances Act, which criminalizes the possession of drugs. In essence, this means that CBD is legal if it comes from hemp, but not if it comes from cannabis (marijuana) – even though it is the exact same molecule. Currently, many people obtain CBD online without a medical marijuana license, which is legal in most states.
The evidence for cannabidiol health benefits
CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues, but the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications. In numerous studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures, and, in some cases, stop them altogether. Epidiolex, which contains CBD, is the first cannabis-derived medicine approved by the FDA for these conditions.
Animal studies, and self-reports or research in humans, suggest CBD may also help with:
Studies and clinical trials are exploring the common report that CBD can reduce anxiety.
- Insomnia. Studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
- Chronic pain. Further human studies are needed to substantiate claims that CBD helps control pain. One animal study from the European Journal of Pain suggests CBD could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis when applied to skin. Other research identifies how CBD may inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain, which are difficult treat.
- Addiction. CBD can help lower cravings for tobacco and heroin under certain conditions, according to some research in humans. Animal models of addiction suggest it may also help lessen cravings for alcohol, cannabis, opiates, and stimulants.
Is CBD safe?
Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the level of blood thinning and other medicines in your blood by competing for the liver enzymes that break down these drugs. Grapefruit has a similar effect with certain medicines.
People taking high doses of CBD may show abnormalities in liver related blood tests. Many non-prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), have this same effect. So, you should let your doctor know if you are regularly using CBD.
A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So, you cannot be sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other unknown elements. We also don’t know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.
How can CBD be taken?
CBD comes in many forms, including oils, extracts, capsules, patches, vapes, and topical preparations for use on skin. If you’re hoping to reduce inflammation and relieve muscle and joint pain, a topical CBD-infused oil, lotion or cream – or even a bath bomb — may be the best option. Alternatively, a CBC patch or a tincture or spray designed to be placed under the tongue allows CBD to directly enter the bloodstream.
Outside of the US, the prescription drug Sativex, which uses CBD as an active ingredient, is approved for muscle spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis and for cancer pain. Within the US, Epidiolex is approved for certain types of epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis.
The bottom line on cannabidiol
Some CBD manufacturers have come under government scrutiny for wild, indefensible claims, such that CBD is a cure-all for cancer or COVID-19, which it is not. We need more research but CBD may prove to be a helpful, relatively non-toxic option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies, we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD currently is typically available as an unregulated supplement, it’s hard to know exactly what you are getting.
If you decide to try CBD, make sure you are getting it from a reputable source. And talk with your doctor to make sure that it won’t affect any other medicines you take.