Does Cannabis Help Eating Disorders (or Can Weed Cause Them)?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

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Eating disorders are a category of diagnoses that involve an unhealthy relationship with food. There are a variety of eating disorders, including bulimia and anorexia. It is possible to have co-occurring eating disorders.

Diagnosing eating disorders can be complicated, as they exist in a variety of degrees and may not look the same from one individual to the next. There are multiple different treatment options for those with eating disorders, but psychotherapy is often a main component. Through working with a therapist, individuals can focus on their relationship with food and work to build healthier thought patterns and habits.

It’s estimated that 9% of individuals in the US will experience an eating disorder at some point during their lifetime. This is likely due to a variety of factors, including societal imagery and a collective attitude towards food. It’s also important to remember that eating disorders can look different from one person to the next, and there isn’t just one way that someone can experience an eating disorder.

While eating disorders are most common in early adults, they can develop at any point for any person, regardless of age and socioeconomic factors.

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What Causes Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are complex, and there isn’t one sole cause. In order to understand the root of an individual’s eating disorder, further medical and psychological investigation may be required. It’s important to remember that eating disorders can be incredibly individualized and those with this condition may manifest signs and symptoms differently. 

Possible eating disorder causes include:

  • Genetics
  • Body image issues
  • Peer pressure
  • A lack of positive coping skills

If you’re dealing with an eating disorder and also use cannabis, then you may be wondering: can weed cause eating disorders? 

The answer is somewhat complicated.

Cannabis does not cause eating disorders. However, it can modify the body’s appetite regulation. Cannabis can “trick” the body into thinking it's hungry, and many medical marijuana patients use the drug specifically to trigger their appetite. If consumers aren’t aware of how THC and CBD work in the body, it could potentially lead them to overeat. On the other hand, some strains have shown promise in reducing appetite. And while these strains aren’t common, they could become problematic for individuals who are already struggling to eat enough.

Eating Disorder Signs & Symptoms

There are a variety of eating disorders, and even the same eating disorder could look different from one person to the next. As such, symptoms may vary depending on the specific eating disorder and individual.

If you have an eating disorder, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Food restriction
  • Induced vomiting
  • Eating past feeling full
  • Excessively exercising in order to change your body
  • Obsessing about food

While these are some of the most common symptoms, there are many others you may experience. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have an eating disorder, please contact your doctor to discuss your concerns and possible treatment.

How Cannabis Can Help Alleviate Eating Disorders

The are a few possible benefits of using cannabis when dealing with an eating disorder. 

Cannabis has shown the potential to increase appetite in some consumers. For those struggling with anorexia or other eating disorders that decrease appetite, cannabis can trigger a hunger response that encourages more healthy eating behaviors.1 

For some individuals, just the thought of eating can be stressful. This anxiety can contribute to mealtime avoidance and lead to the perpetuation of eating disorder symptoms. For many medical marijuana patients, cannabis has become a reliable way to alleviate anxious thinking, which can be very beneficial for those with eating disorders.2 

It’s essential to note that eating disorders have a strong psychological component. Because of this, and because cannabis is frequently used by consumers to alleviate mental health concerns like anxiety, individuals should consider consulting with a qualified medical marijuana doctor to understand how cannabis could be used most effectively in any treatments.

Legality and Doctor’s Recommendation

To determine if your state considers eating disorders to be a qualifying condition for medical marijuana, check out our Laws & Regulations section for the medical cannabis rules for your state.

If you find that your state recognizes eating disorders or their symptoms as a qualifying medical condition, you can seek a doctor’s recommendation to get your medical cannabis card in your state.

How Nugg Can Help

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NuggMD is the nation's leading medical marijuana technology platform, serving patients in 21 states and growing. We’ve connected over 1,000,000 patients with their new medical marijuana doctors face-to-face via our state-of-the-art telemedicine platform. 

We believe that every human being has the right to explore the benefits of medical cannabis and are fully committed to helping each patient explore all of their options in their journey to wellness. For further information on whether you qualify for medical cannabis, select your state.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Cannabis & Eating Disorders

We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about cannabis and eating disorders. If you’re ready to learn more, consider speaking with a medical professional about how cannabis could help provide you with relief.

Do edibles work if you have an eating disorder? 

Cannabis edibles can be extremely beneficial for those with eating disorders. Edibles, like other methods of cannabis consumption, can help increase appetite and provide relaxation.

Are eating disorders curable? 

For many people, eating disorder recovery consists of changing their relationship with food. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, consider reaching out to a medical professional to learn more about treatment options.3

Is it possible to use CBD for eating disorders? 

CBD has shown promise for a variety of ailments that could play a role in supporting eating disorder recovery. For example, CBD has been used by patients to help alleviate insomnia, chronic pain, and anxiety. These steps can give the individual a greater sense of control over their life (which may help reduce their need to “control” their food intake). However, CBD’s direct impact on eating disorders requires further study, and anyone considering using CBD as part of an eating disorder treatment plan should consult with their doctor.

Is cannabis helpful for all types of eating disorders? 

Cannabis may be helpful in increasing a patient’s appetite or reducing anxiety that leads to meal avoidance or other potentially harmful eating behaviors. However, every individual is different, and further study is needed before we can say whether cannabis is helpful for all types of eating disorders (or all types of patients).

What amount of cannabis should I take to improve my appetite?

How much the right dose consists of is different for everyone. For some consumers, 10mg of THC will be far too much. For others, it won’t be enough. If you’re considering cannabis as a way to improve your appetite, contact your physician to discuss the appropriate dosage. And, when in doubt, start low and only increase after giving each dose sufficient time to take full effect.


1.  Razmovski-Naumovski, Valentina, Tim Luckett, Ingrid Amgarth-Duff, and Meera R Agar. 2022. “Efficacy of Medicinal Cannabis for Appetite-Related Symptoms in People with Cancer: A Systematic Review.” Palliative Medicine 36 (6): 912–27.

2. Lintzeris, Nicholas, Jessica Driels, Natalie Elias, Jonathon C Arnold, Iain S McGregor, and David J Allsop. 2018. “Medicinal Cannabis in Australia, 2016: The Cannabis as Medicine Survey (CAMS‐16).” Medical Journal of Australia 209 (5): 211–16.

3.  Iacovino, Juliette M., Dana M. Gredysa, Myra Altman, and Denise E. Wilfley. 2012. “Psychological Treatments for Binge Eating Disorder.” Current Psychiatry Reports 14 (4): 432–46.

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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