In 2011, a study reported in Biological Psychology found that the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) influences a person’s mood and response to food. It was also found that those with anorexia and bulimia had impaired or particularly underactive endocannabinoid systems. The ECS is a system of cannabinoid receptors (namely CB1 and CB2) found on the surfaces of some of the cells in our bodies. The CB1 receptors are found mainly in brain cells, but also throughout the body, while the CB2 receptors are located in the cells of certain organs and deal primarily with the body’s immune system. The body naturally produces its own endogenous cannabinoids, Anandamide and 2-Arachidonyl-glycerol (2AG), to stimulate the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The goal of the ECS is to stabilize the body’s internal environment in response to the body’s external environment. One of these stabilizing forces is appetite – when the body needs fuel, it gets hungry. We often get this impulse from the Anandamide and 2AG cannabinoids in breast milk during infancy. These cannabinoids stimulate our appetites. Some researchers believe that EDs are linked to a dysfunctional ECS, which can be rectified through medical cannabis. People with anorexia or bulimia have hypersensitive CB1 receptor functions that influence body awareness, whereas the receptors associated with pleasure in eating seem to be stunted.
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