Project Description



Cachexia or wasting syndrome is loss of weight, muscle atrophy, fatigue, weakness, and significant loss of appetite in someone who is not actively trying to lose weight. The formal definition of cachexia is the loss of body mass that cannot be reversed nutritionally: Even if the affected patient eats more calories, lean body mass will be lost, indicating a primary pathology is in place.

Cachexia is seen in patients with cancer, AIDS, chronic obstructive lung disease, multiple sclerosis, congestive heart failure, tuberculosis, familial amyloid polyneuropathy, mercury poisoning (acrodynia) and hormonal deficiency.

It is a positive risk factor for death, meaning if the patient has cachexia, the chance of death from the underlying condition is increased dramatically. It can be a sign of various underlying disorders; when a patient presents with cachexia, a doctor will generally consider the possibility of cancer, metabolic acidosis (from decreased protein synthesis and increased protein catabolism), certain infectious diseases (e.g., tuberculosis, AIDS), chronic pancreatitis, and some autoimmune disorders, or addiction to amphetamine. Cachexia physically weakens patients to a state of immobility stemming from loss of appetite, asthenia, and anemia, and response to standard treatment is usually poor. Cachexia includes sarcopenia as a part of its pathology.

Medical Marijuana Efficacy

Cancer cachexia is seen most often in patients with lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and stomach cancer. Involuntary weight loss, skeletal muscle wasting, loss of appetite and lowered quality of life are the most common symptoms and are seen in 50-80 percent of advanced cancer patients. These symptoms are created by substances made by the tumour, or the body’s own reaction to the tumour. Patients undergoing chemotherapy for all types of cancer have reported substantial reduction in nausea and vomiting and an increase in appetite after using medical marijuana.

Official Research Reports

Cannabinoids in the treatment of the cachexia anorexia syndrome in palliative care patients (Nauck F, Klaschik E, 2004)

Cancer cachexia and cannabinoids (Gorter RW, 1999)

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