Lack of Appetite (See Anorexia Nervosa)
One common side effect of taking cannabis is a powerful urge to eat, sometimes known as the “munchies.” Dr. Kunos, scientific director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health in the United States, carried out studies into the brain’s natural endocannabinoids to see if they had the same effect on appetite as cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.49 Together with colleagues from Italy, Japan, and the U.S., he found that, just like cannabis, natural endocannabinoids did indeed stimulate the appetite. This may go some way to explain why endocannabinoids are found in human breast milk and it is thought this has some function in stimulating babies to feed.
The results of the study of the effect of cannabis on obesity
One of the most fascinating aspects of cannabis about appetite is the effect of cannabis on body weight. Researchers have found that cannabis can induce weight loss in those that are overweight and yet induce weight gain in underweight people. Currently, no other drug can perform this dual function. Doctors can prescribe drugs for weight gain and weight loss but they cannot prescribe a drug that can do both.
Studies published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that nationally in the U.S., rates of obesity were approximately one-third lower in individuals who smoked cannabis at least three times a week.50 The results were compared to people who have never used cannabis, and even after adjusting for other factors such as cigarette smoking, health, age, and gender, the conclusion was that there is an inexplicable connection. Researchers analyzed data from over 52,000 participants in two large national surveys of the American population. The first survey found that 22% of those who did not smoke cannabis were obese, compared with just 14% of regular cannabis smokers. The second survey found that 25% of nonsmokers were obese, compared with 17% of regular cannabis users.