Anorexia is a term that refers to lack of appetite. It can be caused by a wide variety of chronic conditions and as a result of taking certain medications. It may lead to malnutrition and other nutritional deficiency problems. Anorexia associated with nausea is often a result of medication with these undesirable side effects, such as chemotherapy and antiviral medicines. This consequence is often found in HIV treatments, hepatitis treatments and cancer treatments. Loss of appetite also accompanies the use of stimulant medications such as those used for Attention Deficit Disorder.


Anorexia nervosa is a psychological disorder characterized by an extreme, self-inflicted weight loss at least 15% below normal and is associated with a lack of self esteem. It occurs most often is adolescent girls but also happens in males and adults. A family history of eating disorders occurs in 30% of patients. Not all patients with anorexia are of the food restricting type. Some may also binge and purge.


Standard medical treatments:


Nutritional counseling

Electrolyte balancing

Treatment of medical problems

SSRIs (Serotonin regulating antidepressants)

Weight boosting drinks(Ensure)

Supportive and alternative treatments:

Nutritional – testing and replenishment with amino acids, vitamins and minerals

Blue green algae

Digestive enzymes

Ginger – appetite stimulant

Peppermint – appetite stimulant

Protein powder supplement




Flower essences


Anorexia and Cannabis

Cannabinoids appear to regulate eating behavior at several levels within the brain and the intestinal system. Appetite stimulation by cannabinoids has been studied for several decades, particularly in relation to cachexia and malnutrition associated with cancer. The overwhelming evidence of hunger-inducing properties of cannabinoids in the physical condition of appetite loss known as cachexia is well-established. Marinol (dronabinol) is FDA approved for the treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with HIV/AIDS.  Early studies of dronabinol in this population showed promising increases in caloric intake and stabilization or gains in weight, and many patients with AIDS continue to use medical marijuana as an appetite stimulant.

Cannabinoids may have minimal appetite stimulation effect in cases of classic anorexia nervosa.

Very few trials have studied cannabinoids for this condition.  A pilot study of nine outpatients with anorexia nervosa treated with THC showed a significant improvement in depression and perfectionism scores without any significant weight gain. It is unclear whether the physiologic response to cannabinoids differs in anorexia nervosa patients from the normal response, or whether  the effect of cannabinoids is insufficient to overcome the strong drive for weight loss that these patients have.

When marijuana is used to stimulate appetite, often one puff, smoked or vaporized is enough to be effective. It is important to take regular breaks from marijuana use, of a few days,  so that your body does not become dependent on cannabis to tell it when to be hungry.