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January 30, 2016
By L. Carr, Contributing Columnist
Losing your appetite is not usually a positive sign, unless you are
dieting and succeeding in curbing your food intake. On the contrary,
having a strong appetite is a positive sign of health. A lost appetite can
signify a variety of illnesses or conditions. Practically any illness can
reduce your desire to eat. And a loss of appetite can also go hand in
hand with emotional problems and stress, including grief, relationship
issues, depression, and anxiety. Sometimes, no physical cause can be
found for a loss of appetite.
Often loss of appetite lasts just a few hours and your desire for food
returns on its own. But if you have lost your appetite for several days,
check out the root cause of the problem so you can return to full health.
What are the Causes of a Loss of Appetite?
Because so many conditions may cause a loss of appetite, it is
impossible to list them all here. But some of the most common illnesses
and conditions which cause you to lose your appetite include alcoholic
liver disease, asthma, Celiac disease, Crohn´s disease, depression,
diabetes, hepatitis C, kidney failure, stress, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers,
Cancer and its treatment are common causes of loss of appetite. This
could be because cancer affects your metabolism, or it causes your
spleen to grow in size. A build-up of fluid in the abdomen can cause
you to feel full after eating only a small amount of food, and
medications and radiation treatment also affect your appetite. (Read
about the Top 10 signs of prostate cancer.)
Is Losing Your Appetite Dangerous?
If your desire to eat has disappeared it can affect your weight and your
overall nutritional health. If you don´t eat a full range of healthy foods,
your body suffers. Ultimately malnutrition causes death.
But don´t panic if you have lost your appetite for a couple of days – if
you treat the underlying cause of the appetite loss you can get back to
We also looked at the scientific research to see which natural remedies
are effective for getting your appetite back.
1. Loss of Appetite: The Answer´s in The Brain
While loss of appetite may be felt on your stomach, there´s much more
going on in your head that affects your desire to eat.
According to new research, the role of brain pathways and body
messaging is important if we are to understand why we lose our
In a 2012 study from the University of Washington, scientists report on
a brain circuit that affects loss of appetite in mice. The study also shows
how the signals in this brain circuit can be turned off in order to restore
appetite and avoid problems with malnutrition.
2. Cinnamon Helps Combat Loss of Appetite?
The U.S. National Library of Medicine states that cinnamon can be used
to help treat loss of appetite, although there is no direct scientific
research into cinnamon´s effects on this problem. Cinnamon is a spice
that comes from the Cinnamomum trees that are native to the
Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and South America.
If cinnamon does not directly aid appetite, it could help promote eating
when you use scented cinnamon essential oil, which promotes feelings
of happiness and contentment when dining.
3. Hormones Help to Increase Appetite
The loss of all or part of the stomach after gastric cancer can cause
significant weight loss and appetite loss.
But a 2010 study from Osaka University's Graduate School of Medicine
shows that the hormone ghrelin can improve these symptoms and limit
the risk of malnutrition after gastrectomy. In the study 20 gastrectomy
patients received ghrelin or placebo and appetite was significantly
higher in the ghrelin group.
4. A Tailored Diet Helps Reduce Loss of Appetite Due to Cancer
Patients experiencing loss of appetite due to radiation treatment and
chemotherapy following cancer often lose their appetite and experience
nausea when eating.
Researchers in 2007 at the University of Alberta studied chemosensory
dysfunction which lasts for a long time even after chemotherapy is
finished. They found that each patient had a unique set of symptoms
related to chemosensory dysfunction and that a diet tailored to these
symptoms made all the difference to appetite and overall quality of life.
5. Loss of Appetite is Linked to the Early Stages of Artery Disease
Physical signs of depression such as loss of appetite and fatigue are
strongly liked to a higher risk of coronary artery disease, according to a
2007 study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
The researchers studied 324 men and women over a period of three
years and drew the conclusion that depressive symptoms were linked
to a higher incidence of artery disease progression.
If your loss of appetite is due to depression it could be worth getting
your arteries checked as well as your mental health.
6. Loss of Appetite in the Heat
C. Peter Herman at the University of Toronto has analyzed the effects
of heat on appetite – a link that is commonly felt in the summer.
You´ve probably experienced a loss of appetite on the hottest days of
the year. Herman´s report looks at a variety of research including a
1974 report by Johnson and Kark into the appetites of soldiers in
various geographical areas.
If you lose your appetite in the heat, try to eat smaller meals more
often and keep foods light and easily digestible.
7. Active Ingredient in Marijuana Helps Improve Appetite Loss
You've heard that smoking weed gives you the munchies, right?
Apparently the active ingredient in marijuana, delta-9-
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), helps to increase the appetites of people
with advanced cancer according to a 2011 study from the University of
Alberta in Canada. It also improves sense of taste.
In the study 73 percent of people that took pills containing the extract
every day for 18 days experienced an increase in appetite. Loss of
appetite is a big problem in cancer patients and while scientists are not
suggesting they smoke marijuana, the active ingredient does hold
promise as an appetite treatment.
8. Too Much Zinc in Your Diet Can Cause Loss of Appetite
High levels of zinc in your diet can cause loss of appetite, a 1990 study
from Penn State University found. (Read more about symptoms of zinc
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|Stress and depression are common causes of losing your appetite.