Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome

Cachexia, also known as wasting syndrome, occurs when adipose tissue and muscle mass deplete in people who aren’t trying to lose weight. Over five million people in the U.S. suffer from cachexia. Because of the tissue loss, it causes disproportionate muscle wasting, fatigue and loss of appetite. Cachexia may occur in conjunction with other conditions such as AIDS, cancer, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, mercury poisoning and malabsorption. It’s common for cachexia to set in during the late stages of the above conditions.

Causes of Cachexia/Wasting Syndrome

Unfortunately, the exact cause of cachexia has not yet been diagnosed. Studies show that inflammatory cytokines including tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin 6 and interferon-gamma play a role in developing it.

Starvation vs. Cachexia Weight Loss

Starvation weight loss is much different than weight loss that occurs due to cachexia. When you lose weight via starvation, it occurs because of an inadequate calorie intake, and your body provides your brain and erythrocytes with glucose in two ways. First, it breaks down glycogen reserves in the liver and in your muscles. It also increases glucose production in the liver by using gluconeogenic amino acids formed due to muscle catabolism. Then, your body will begin to use fat as fuel, converting fatty acids from adipose tissue into ketone bodies. This is the energy required to conserve brain and peripheral tissues. However, when you lose weight because of cachexia, you lose equal parts of fat and muscle.

Medical Marijuana and Cachexia

Treatment for cachexia usually involve things like intravenous feeding as well as appetite-stimulating medications such as growth hormones, testosterone and progesterone. Medical cannabis contains cannabinoids that are proven to be effective in increasing appetite by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Medical cannabis contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that influences neural networks that trigger the brain to tell it to eat.

Medical cannabis helps cachexia patients with their energy and physical activity levels as well. As a result, this may help lower the risk of atrophy and improve overall mood.

Herbology Can Help

Cachexia is an extremely frustrating condition because there’s no known cure. Instead, there are options from which you can choose to help manage the symptoms. Maryland lists cachexia as an approved medical condition that medical marijuana can help treat. Our professional Patient Counselors will help guide you in the right direction and answer any questions you may have.