Graduation Year

2021

Date of Submission

1-2021

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Neuroscience

Reader 1

Thomas Borowski

Reader 2

Brian Duistermars

Abstract

Eating disorders have been around for centuries, but with the growing prevalence of social media and the “beauty standards” social media portrays, it is of utmost importance to address and further investigate these disorders. Eating disorders are statistically rare or uncommon among the general population. This may be due to the nature of the disease, as patients tend to conceal and deny their disease which in turn reduces the chances of someone actively seeking professional help. Based off of much of the existing literature young women make up most of those who are plagued by this disorder. Pharmacological treatment has played a minimal role in the historical care of eating disorders where cognitive behavior therapy prevails. Much is unknown about the neurobiology of anorexia nervosa (AN), but a possible source could be with the dysregulation of ghrelin, a hormone with great influence on hunger, in AN patients. An additional system being explored is the endocannabinoid system, the effect THC has on it, and its large impact on hunger. An experiment is proposed as in-patient for a treatment period of 14 days involving 15 participants with AN and 15 healthy controls. In each group, participants will receive either a low dose of THC, a high dose of THC, or a placebo. BMI will be recorded and daily caloric intake will also be carefully documented. Results will ideally show that those who receive THC will have significant increased caloric intake and BMI compared to the placebo group. Ideally there would be a similar quantified increase for caloric intake of AN patients who receive THC as the healthy controls in the corresponding groups. It is entirely possible to yield results that are insignificant and this could happen because of the sheer nature of the disorder. Future research could include adding the element of cognitive therapy, dosing done on a person to person basis, and exploring a different route of administration. Much more research can be done to further investigate the full capacity THC and its medicinal qualities.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.

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