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A Scientific Study Of Binge Eating Among Cannabis Users

We’ve blogged before about ‘the munchies’ being a real phenomenon. Now researchers at Drexel University have produced a clinical study, which explores how cannabis users may suffer increased risk of eating disorders…

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disorders. High carbs and Calories. And the ‘munchies’ drive of Weed!

What they did

The researchers wanted to explore the specific relationship between cannabis use and eating disorders.

Binge eating is the experience of feeling out of control when eating or unable to stop eating, an abstract of the study report explains. “Cannabis may play a particular role in maintaining binge eating as research suggests cannabis can increase how pleasurable or rewarding people find high sugar or high fat foods.”

What they found

“The study found more than 23 percent of the 165 study participants reported using cannabis in the past three months – either ‘once or twice’ or ‘monthly’. These participants were individuals seeking treatment for binge eating, and reported their cannabis and alcohol use as part of that process.”

The findings indicate that a notable subset of the participants with binge eating disorders use cannabis and experience strong desires or urges to use cannabis. Additionally, using cannabis appears to be related to drinking patterns and problems with drinking (e.g., needing more alcohol to feel intoxicated, inability to control drinking) for patients with binge eating.

The takeaway

The researchers recommend that: “Treatments for binge eating should explore how substance use affects hunger, mood and eating for patients.” Sp0ecifically: “We recommend that clinicians screen for cannabis and alcohol use in all their patients, and assess any potential problems the patient may be experiencing related to their substance use.”

My take

No surprise about the findings. But I was intrigued by the connection to alcohol consumption. Two flags for eating disorders, found together in many cannabis users.

Canada’s federal go9vernment de-criminalized cannabis use several years ago. And legalized growing small amounts for one’s own personal use. Though the individual provinces have instituted  regulations similar to those already in place for decades on alcohol. Another link between weed and booze… But the study’s findings on binge eating and weed are of special significance here.

I have never used cannabis. I started on alcohol really early (in high school), and never felt the need to experiment. Also, I have never smoked. In fact, I developed an almost pathological disgust for the habit when I was very young.

But I can relate a true story about a cannabis-using fellow I knew in high school who appeared at my door one night about midnight, smelling distinctly of weed, asking for a peanut butter and lettuce sandwich. And ended up consuming an entire loaf of whole wheat bread and a head of Iceberg. It took him two hours. He then fell asleep. And woke up about 10 the next morning with no recollection of the incident.

Yes, I already knew ‘the munchies’ were a ‘real phenomenon’…

~ Maggie J.

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