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Cachexia, or “wasting syndrome,” refers to the noticeable weight loss in patients diagnosed with a serious illness, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, congestive heart failure, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, and Crohn’s disease.


  • Stimulating appetite
  • Increasing activity and physical activity
  • Reducing nausea
  • Improving mood

With cachexia, normal nutritional support isn’t effective at reversing the loss in mass. The syndrome is serious, as patients with cachexia generally respond poorly to treatments like chemotherapy and therefore may have a lower quality of life.

Common treatment methods for cachexia include hypercaloric or intravenous feeding and the administration of appetite-stimulating medications such as growth hormones.

Medical cannabis has shown to be effective at boosting appetite. The cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a signaling system responsible for regulating food intake. Cannabis contains the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which influences the neural networks to signal the brain that it is hungry.

In addition, medical cannabis may mitigate the onset of cachexia, as patients may be more inclined to eat regularly and are able to hold down food to absorb nutrients and calories.

Evidence also suggests that cannabis may help cachexia patients increase their energy and physical activity levels, which in turn could lower the risk of atrophy and improve mood.

A 2007 study by researchers at Columbia University, found that orally administered medical cannabis significantly stimulated the appetite of AIDS patients suffering from cachexia, increasing calorie intake and promoting weight gain. A second study in 2011 found that ingested THC increased appetite in cancer patients by 64 percent.
– Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes