New Developments in Appetite Control

IAEDP Symposium 2011

About the Course:

Webinar from the 2011 International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals Symposium.

This presentation will focus on the endocannabinoid system in our bodies. These chemical messengers play a crucial role in appetite and have been used in many medical treatments to stimulate appetite and prevent muscle wasting. They have also been used to address food cravings, obesity and metabolic syndrome. We will look at their role in the brain and how our bodies use a unique regulatory system to address weight issues.

The endocannabinoids (anandamide and 2-AG) were first discovered in porcine brain in 1992. Their receptors were identified shortly after and the amount of research multiplied to 100 publications per month. Their unique style of regulation (different from serotonin or dopamine) is an “on demand” mechanism rather than a reuptake mechanism which is unique to these transmitters. They are located in the brain and in the peripheral body-mostly dealing with immune mechanism. There are several interaction with leptin and insulin but their overall invovement with energy homeostatis and metabolism is enlightening. Blocking the CB1 receptors increases glucose tolerance. Direct injection of anandamide into the hypothalamus causes hyperphagia. It affects energy metabolism in fat cells, pancreatic cells, brain cells ( inhibits GABA), liver, muscle and adipose tissue. The research is there, the outcome of the research leads to new possibilities of appetite control and our understanding of this important system. Dieting causes enhanced levels of anandamide and the same effect is seen in menopause. So why didn’t blocking the receptors (Rimonabant) solve the obesity issue? This will be discussed as will possible other treatment possibilities.

Note: For this course there is a small additional fee to obtain the webinar. Please see the “Get Course Materials” link in the right sidebar for details.


Vicki Berkus, M.D., Ph.D, CEDS (presenter)

About the Author:

I have been in private practice for 5 years as a psychiatrist specializing in eating disorders. I have been a past president of IAEDP and on the board for 7 years. I have authored a book titled “10 Commitments to Mental Fitness” Reed Publishers. The patients have taught me the most about eating disorders and allowed me to present at numerous conferences. I headed the in-patient Eating Disorders program at Sierra Tucson for 8 years. I left Arizona to take a position in Tampa Florida as the chief science officer for American Medical Technologies-a medical investment group.

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for health care professionals, especially psychologists, therapists, and counselors who seek to update their research knowledge and competency in treating patients with eating disorders, increase and acquire new skills, learn new intervention strategies, and obtain continuing education credits. It is appropriate for professionals at all levels of knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. Following this presentation, participants will be able to explain how this unique set of chemicals is involved in appetite regulation.

  2. Following this presentation, participants will be able to utilize and explain the relationship of endocannabinoids to cravings and anxiety.

  3. Following this presentation, participants will be able to explain why these transmitters are a source of increased interest and research.

Exam Questions

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