Are you unable to enjoy your favourite meals, not because of a lack of appetite, but due to a medical condition that robs you of the desire to eat? 

Unfortunately, this is a harsh reality for many people, from cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to those suffering from chronic illnesses. Fortunately, an increasing number of people are turning to a surprising ally in the fight to reclaim their appetite – medical marijuana. 

In recent years, the use of medical marijuana for appetite has soared. In fact, its consumption among U.S. adults increased from 1.2% in 2013 to 1.6% in 2015 [1]. This suggests it is a key component of treatment for individuals whose health depends on proper nutrition.

This guide explores how medical cannabis can stimulate appetite. Discover the science behind its effects, the best strains for appetite enhancement, and insights into its usage and safety. 


Medical Marijuana for Appetite

Medical marijuana effectively stimulates hunger by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates various bodily functions, including appetite. It is particularly beneficial for individuals suffering from conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, and chronic illnesses that cause severe appetite loss.


Understanding Medical Cannabis

A cannabis leaf in a dropper bottle, with chemical structures of THC (psychoactive) and CBD (non-psychoactive) displayed beside it, highlighting their different properties.

Medical marijuana is extracted from the cannabis plant, which includes over 100 cannabinoids. The most notable and extensively studied of these are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

THC is the primary psychoactive component in cannabis, responsible for producing the “high”, while CBD is non-psychoactive and known for its therapeutic benefits.

The Endocannabinoid System and Its Role in Regulating Appetite

The human body has a complex cell-signalling system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It plays a fundamental role in regulating various physiological processes, including mood, pain sensation, and appetite. 

The ECS consists of endocannabinoids (naturally produced cannabinoids), receptors (namely, CB1 and CB2), and enzymes that help break down cannabinoids.

When THC from medical marijuana enters the body, it binds to the CB1 receptors in the brain, which are directly involved in regulating appetite and food intake. This interaction is what often leads to the increased hunger, commonly known as the “munchies,” that many users experience.

Here’s a closer look at how cannabis interacts in the body:

  • THC Activation: When THC binds to the CB1 receptors, it activates the release of ghrelin, which is known as the “hunger hormone.” Ghrelin signals to the brain that it is time to eat, thereby increasing appetite.
  • Neurotransmitter Influence: THC also influences the levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals can enhance the pleasure of eating, making food more enjoyable and thus encouraging consumption.
  • Impact on the Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus, a part of the brain that regulates appetite, receives signals from THC. This can stimulate the sensation of hunger even when the body does not have a caloric need, which is particularly beneficial for patients experiencing appetite loss due to illness.

What the Research Says

A 2022 review concluded that medicinal cannabis shows promise for increasing appetite in cancer patients. It included five randomised controlled trials comparing cannabis interventions (such as dronabinol, nabilone, and cannabis extract) with placebo or other treatments. One trial found that dronabinol significantly improved appetite-related outcomes like food taste and premeal appetite [2].

Additionally,  a 2021 study assessed the efficacy of cannabinoids in managing cancer-associated cachexia (a wasting syndrome marked by severe weight loss and muscle atrophy). Although there was low-quality evidence supporting the benefits of cannabinoids for appetite stimulation, patient-reported observations suggested considerable improvements [3]


Best Strains for Appetite Stimulation

A close-up of a cannabis flower with trichomes and orange pistils, illustrating the plant's intricate details and potential for medical use.

When it comes to choosing strains of medical cannabis to stimulate appetite, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Some strains are more effective than others in enhancing hunger and making eating more enjoyable. 

Here are a few popular ones:

Strain Properties
OG Kush Combines a high THC content with a balanced mix of cannabinoids and terpenes. This strain is famous for its strong euphoric effects, which can enhance the enjoyment of food. Users often report a marked increase in appetite shortly after consumption.
Girl Scout Cookies (GSC) With a rich blend of THC and CBD, GSC provides a potent punch that boosts hunger while delivering a sense of relaxation and well-being. The overall experience is enhanced by its sweet and earthy aroma, making mealtimes more appealing.
Pineapple Express Known for its uplifting and energetic impact, which can be especially beneficial for those who need to combat appetite loss due to stress or fatigue. The fruity flavour and high THC content help stimulate the appetite while maintaining a focused state, making it a versatile option for daytime use.
Durban Poison A pure sativa strain that provides an energetic and clear-headed high. Its ability to induce appetite comes from its unique terpene profile, which includes high levels of THCV, a compound that can help regulate blood sugar levels and enhance hunger.
Blue Dream A hybrid strain that combines the best of both indica and sativa effects. Its pleasant berry flavour and high THC composition make it a favourite among patients looking to enhance their eating experience while enjoying a gentle, relaxing high.
Northern Lights This strain is perfect for evening use, as its calming properties help to wind down the day while simultaneously stimulating the appetite. Its sweet and spicy flavour profile adds an enjoyable sensory element to the experience.
Grandaddy Purple Grandaddy Purple is characterised by its deep purple hues and dense, resin-coated buds. Its unique terpene profile, dominated by myrcene, caryophyllene, and pinene, contributes to its distinctive sweet, grape-like aroma. This combination makes meals more enjoyable and improves the overall sensory experience. 


If you’re suffering from a condition that induces nausea in addition to suppressing your appetite, consider also exploring the best strains for nausea. This can provide tailored relief for your specific needs, helping you manage both symptoms more effectively.


THC vs CBD for Appetite

THC and CBD, the two primary cannabinoids found in medical cannabis, offer distinct benefits in stimulating appetite. THC is well-known for its strong hunger-inducing effects, as discussed above. On the other hand, CBD’s influence on appetite is more subtle and complex.

While not typically associated with directly stimulating appetite, CBD can play an important role in improving overall health and well-being, which indirectly helps with increasing the desire to eat. 

For example, its ability to reduce anxiety, manage pain, and improve sleep can create a more favourable environment for eating. Additionally, it has anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit digestive health, potentially making it easier for individuals to maintain a healthy appetite.

When CBD Might Be More Beneficial

There are certain situations where CBD might be more beneficial than THC.

  • Sensitive to THC: Individuals who are sensitive to THC’s psychoactive properties or those who need to avoid the effects due to personal or professional reasons might prefer CBD. 
  • Managing Symptoms: It can be particularly useful for patients dealing with conditions that cause nausea and inflammation, as it can help manage these symptoms without the psychoactive side effects.
  • Legal Considerations: In places like the UK, where only CBD is legal, it has become the primary option for those seeking treatment through medical cannabis. It is the only accessible and safe alternative for managing appetite-related issues within the legal framework.

Research has explored the potential of CBD, specifically in improving appetite in patients with chronic illnesses. For example, a 2021 study evaluated the effect of CBD oil on Crohn’s disease. Although there were no significant changes in inflammatory parameters or endoscopic scores, the results showed substantial clinical and quality of life improvements. Patients reported improved appetite as part of the overall enhancement [4]


Methods of Consumption

A woman sitting on a couch using a dropper to take cannabis oil sublingually.

If you’re considering consuming medical cannabis in the UK, there are several legal methods available, such as vaping, edibles, and oils. Smoking cannabis, however, remains illegal due to its association with higher health risks and the production of harmful smoke. It is, therefore, important to choose safer consumption methods to comply with local regulations and minimise harm.


Vaping involves heating cannabis oil or flowers to a temperature that releases cannabinoids without combustion. This method is beneficial because it allows for rapid onset of effects, making it easier for patients to gauge their dosage. Additionally, vaping is considered less harmful than smoking because it reduces exposure to harmful toxins and carcinogens.


The primary benefit of edibles, such as cannabis-infused gummies, chocolates, and beverages, is their long-lasting effects. This makes them particularly useful for sustained symptom relief.

However, edibles take longer to kick in (usually between 30 minutes to two hours), which can make it challenging for users to control the dosage accurately. It’s also important to note that the effects can be more potent due to the way THC is metabolised in the liver.


Oils can be taken sublingually (under the tongue), mixed with food or beverages, or even applied topically. Sublingual administration allows for quick absorption into the bloodstream, providing faster relief compared to edibles. 

Oils offer precise dosing, making it easier for patients to manage their intake. Additionally, they can be formulated with varying ratios of THC and CBD to cater to specific medical needs, offering flexibility in treatment options.


Considerations for Different Populations

A doctor writing a prescription with a bottle of cannabis oil and a container of medical marijuana capsules on the table.

Different populations may have unique needs and considerations when using medical cannabis for appetite stimulation. 


  • Start Low and Go Slow: Begin with the lowest possible dose to gauge sensitivity and gradually increase if needed.
  • CBD-Dominant Strains: Consider starting with CBD-dominant products to minimise psychoactive effects.
  • Monitor Closely: Regularly check in with healthcare providers to adjust dosage and monitor effects.

Patients With Chronic Illnesses

  • THC for Appetite Stimulation: Utilise THC-rich strains for their appetite-boosting properties.
  • Combination Therapy: Consider combining THC and CBD to address both appetite and underlying symptoms such as pain and inflammation.
  • Personalised Dosage: Tailor the dosage based on individual response and severity of medical condition.

Children and Adolescents

Bear in mind that medical marijuana use in children and adolescents is a sensitive and highly regulated area, often limited to severe conditions such as epilepsy or cancer-related symptoms. 

  • Strict Medical Supervision: Ensure treatment is overseen by a paediatric specialist.
  • Low THC, High CBD: Prefer formulations with low THC and high CBD to minimise psychoactive effects.
  • Parental Consent and Monitoring: Treatment should only proceed with informed parental consent and close monitoring of the child’s response to therapy.

Pregnant and Nursing Women

The use of medical marijuana during pregnancy and breastfeeding is controversial and generally discouraged due to potential risks to the developing foetus or infant.

  • Consult Healthcare Providers: Always consult with healthcare providers to thoroughly understand the risks and benefits.
  • CBD Preference: If used, CBD-dominant products may be preferable due to lower psychoactive risks.

Patients With Mental Health Disorders

Some might find that medical marijuana helps manage some symptoms.

  • CBD-Dominant Strains: For individuals with anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental health conditions, high-CBD strains can help manage symptoms without significant psychoactive effects.
  • Regular Monitoring: Close monitoring by a mental health professional is crucial to adjust treatment and avoid potential negative interactions with other medications.


Medical Cannabis vs. Black-Market Marijuana

There are several critical factors to consider when choosing between medical cannabis and marijuana sourced from the black market. Understanding the following differences will help you make informed decisions about your health. 

Medical Cannabis Black-Market Marijuana
Quality and Safety Subject to strict regulations and rigorous testing for quality and safety. 

This ensures that the product is free from harmful contaminants such as pesticides, mould, and heavy metals. 

Lacks these stringent controls and testing. This can lead to products that are inconsistent in potency and possibly contaminated with harmful substances. 

Using black market sources also increases the risk of legal repercussions, as these products are not regulated or legally sanctioned.

Consistency and Labelling Products are labelled with detailed information about their cannabinoid content, including both THC and CBD levels. 

This transparency allows patients to dose accurately based on their specific medical needs and ensures they receive the same quality product with each purchase.

Often comes with no guarantees regarding cannabinoid content. 

This inconsistency can be problematic for patients who rely on specific dosages for therapeutic effects. 

Without accurate labelling, it’s difficult to replicate the same therapeutic benefits consistently.

Legal Implications Purchasing medical weed through legal channels provides patients with the protection of the law. 

In many regions, patients are required to have a prescription or medical marijuana card, which allows them to use, possess, and sometimes grow cannabis for personal use without facing legal penalties.

Possessing or purchasing marijuana from the black market is illegal in many places and can result in significant legal consequences, including fines and imprisonment. 

Using illicit sources also supports illegal activities that might be linked to other criminal behaviours.

Access and Support Patients have access to support from healthcare professionals. They can guide on dosage, strain selection, and methods of consumption based on their health status and therapeutic goals. 

This professional guidance is crucial for optimising treatment and minimising side effects.

Users typically lack access to professional medical advice, which can lead to misuse or adverse effects. 

The absence of expert guidance can significantly compromise the effectiveness and safety of treatment.


Transform Your Appetite With Medical Cannabis From Lyphe

The logo of Lyphe.

Lyphe is at the forefront of medical cannabis treatment in the UK and Jersey, offering a compassionate and patient-first approach to healthcare. Our specialised services focus on using medical cannabis to promote a healthy appetite, providing a lifeline for those struggling with eating due to various medical conditions.

  • Expert Guidance: Our team of experienced doctors and patient advisors offer personalised treatment plans tailored to individual needs, ensuring optimal results.
  • Convenient Access: With options for online and in-person appointments, we make it easy to access treatment from the comfort of your home or at their clinic.
  • Continuous Supply: Through a unique relationship with Gro-Vida, we guarantee a consistent and reliable supply of high-quality medical cannabis.
  • Supportive Care: From initial consultation to follow-up appointments, we provide comprehensive support throughout your journey, helping you manage your condition effectively.

Don’t let appetite loss control your life. Entrust your care to professionals dedicated to improving your quality of life through safe and effective medical cannabis treatments. Book an appointment to start your journey with Lyphe.



Medical cannabis offers a safe and effective solution for those struggling with appetite loss due to various medical conditions. We explored how THC and CBD interact with the ECS to stimulate hunger, discussed the best strains for appetite enhancement, and highlighted the importance of using medical-grade products for quality and safety.

Now that you understand the benefits of medical marijuana for appetite, you might be wondering, “What’s the next step?” The natural progression is to consult with healthcare professionals who can tailor a treatment plan to your specific needs.

Get in touch with Lyphe’s specialised team. You’ll receive expert guidance, reliable access, and comprehensive support to help you start your journey towards better health. 


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best medical marijuana for appetite?

The best medical marijuana strains for appetite stimulation include OG Kush, Girl Scout Cookies (GSC), and Granddaddy Purple. These are renowned for their ability to enhance hunger and improve the enjoyment of food, making them ideal for patients struggling with appetite loss.


What is the marijuana-based medication for appetite?

Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone) are marijuana-based medications specifically designed to stimulate appetite. They contain synthetic cannabinoids similar to THC and are often prescribed to patients dealing with severe appetite loss due to medical conditions or treatments. For more options and information, consider consulting with healthcare providers at Lyphe.


Does CBD improve appetite?

CBD does not directly stimulate appetite in the same way THC does. However, it can improve overall well-being by reducing symptoms like nausea and inflammation, which may indirectly help enhance appetite. For individuals sensitive to THC or in regions where only CBD is legal, such as the UK, it can be a viable option for managing appetite issues.


What drugs increase appetite?

Drugs that are commonly used to increase appetite include medical marijuana, dronabinol, and megestrol acetate. These medications are often prescribed to patients experiencing significant weight loss or appetite suppression due to chronic illnesses such as cancer or HIV/AIDS. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment.



  1. Højsted, J., Sjøgren, P., & Ekholm, O. (2018). Addictive behaviors related to opioid use for chronic pain: A population-based study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 187, 154-160.
  2. Boland, J., Currow, D. C., Wilcock, A., Connolly, M. J., & Johnson, M. J. (2022). Palliative care services for those with COVID-19: Insights from five European countries. Palliative Medicine, 36(6), 893-903.
  3. Cruz-Jentoft, A. J., Bahat, G., Bauer, J., Boirie, Y., Bruyère, O., Cederholm, T., … & Landi, F. (2019). Sarcopenia: Revised European consensus on definition and diagnosis. Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle, 10(1), 10-31.
  4. Fiorino, G., Bonovas, S., Allocca, M., Furfaro, F., Gilardi, D., Zilli, A., … & Danese, S. (2021). Bowel ultrasound for the management of Crohn’s disease: A systematic review and expert consensus statement. Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis, 15(11), 1799-1816.


The content provided on this blog is intended for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. We strongly advise readers to seek guidance from a qualified healthcare professional regarding any medical concerns.
To reflect its medicinal nature rather than recreational use, we prefer the term ‘medical cannabis’ over terms such as ‘marijuana’, “grass”. or ‘dope’ which may carry negative connotations.
The opinions expressed in the blog belong to the respective authors, who are not medical professionals, and may not necessarily align with those of Lyphe Clinic. Lyphe Clinic does not endorse any specific products or services mentioned, except those provided through Lyphe Clinic.
Readers should be aware that the legality of medical cannabis varies by location, and this disclaimer may be subject to periodic updates.

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