digestive and gastrointestinal problems affect millions of people worldwide and refer to a myriad of conditions affecting digestion, appetite, bowels, gas and inflammation, to name a few. Cannabis has been proven time and time again to help treat and prevent several digestive disorders that plague people on a daily basis, some of them so debilitating that they prevent people from leading normal lives.
The human body has endocannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 in the gut and stomach, all of which help cure us of these digestive issues while improving motility, appetite, absorption, and overall gastrointestinal health when we medicate with cannabis – either THC or CBD, or both. However, you don’t have to consume cannabis orally through food, capsules, or drink for your stomach to benefit; you can also smoke/vape and place drops under your tongue, especially since these methods of consumption work the fastest.
Cannabis use has been shown to be beneficial for the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions in many people, especially since conventional treatments do not always work as well; they also come with unwanted side effects.
Here are some of the common digestive disorders that cannabis can treat:
Inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBD) presents with a variety of symptoms, including diarrhea, cramping, weight loss, abdominal pain, and rectal bleeding. Two subtypes of this condition are known as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which is diagnosed based on where the inflammation occurs in the lower gastrointestinal tract.
Studies show that when IBD patients use cannabis, it can benefit them in several ways, including relaxing the esophageal sphincter, reducing gastric motility, improving visceral pain, intestinal motility, and more.
In a particular study, 91% of patients reported an improvement in their symptoms following cannabis use. Specifically, 83.9% said it helped with abdominal pain, 76.8% reported improvements in abdominal cramps, 48.2% saw better results with joint pain while 28.6% reported said the diarrhea had diminished.
In another study“Cannabis use is common in patients with IBD for symptom relief, particularly in those with a history of abdominal surgery, chronic abdominal pain, and/or a low quality of life index.”
Loss of appetite
Losing your appetite can be detrimental to health because diet is the main way the body absorbs nutrients and vitamins through food, which is necessary for the normal functioning of every organ in the body.
Chronic loss of appetite can lead to malnutrition and severe weight loss, both of which are serious if left untreated. Medically, this can also be known as anorexia. Many conditions can cause loss of appetite, although some common reasons include respiratory infection, gastroenteritis or other gastrointestinal and digestive conditions, pneumonia, meningitis, HIV, chronic liver disease, dementia, heart failure, kidney failure or cancer, among others. .
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In addition to this, certain medications can also cause loss of appetite, especially certain antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, morphine, codeine, and cancer treatments. Fortunately, one of the most well-known effects of marijuana is its ability to stimulate the appetite. There have been numerous studies proving how cannabis can do this through multiple processes in the body, including trigger hunger hormones.
“We found that exposure to cannabis caused smaller, more frequent meals,” said researcher Jon Davis, Ph.D. So instead of cannabis making you want to eat a large meal, it helps for those who suffer from a loss of appetite that it stimulates the appetite enough to make us want to eat several meals, albeit smaller ones.
irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal condition affecting the large intestine, small intestine, and colon. Its symptoms include abdominal pain and cramps, diarrhea, gas, bloating or constipation. A majority of IBS patients are symptom-triggered after an episode of food poisoning, which is the main culprit for this condition.
While most patients can see relief after a single course of antibiotics, others have to keep treating it over and over since symptoms return. This is why other medications as well as lifestyle changes may be needed for it to be completely cured. It is essential to treat IBS or see a doctor as soon as you think you have its symptoms because if left untreated it can lead to rectal bleeding, unexplained vomiting, weight loss, iron deficiency anemia and even more.
Patients can take medical marijuana to help manage IBS symptoms, especially bloating and cramping. Studies show that cannabis is effective in helping to treat IBS, and regular marijuana use has also been associated with fewer hospitalizations and shorter hospital stays that would otherwise be caused by IBS.
Gastroesophageal reflux/acid reflux
More commonly called acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux is a condition characterized by heartburn and nausea. It affects the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Acid reflux impacts how we enjoy our food and drink, as many popular and loved things contribute to acid reflux. These include fried foods, cheese, chocolates, soft drinks, fatty meats, processed snacks, wine, and coffee, to name a few. Other factors can also cause acid reflux, such as eating before bed, being pregnant, smoking cigarettes, and taking medications like ibuprofen, aspirin, and blood pressure medications.
However, the endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating many conditions, including processes within the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as reducing inflammation causing acid reflux, it relaxes the esophagus, increases the threshold for pain and more. Additionally, it can relieve burning or discomfort that commonly occurs in the upper abdomen and treat nausea.
If you suffer from gastrointestinal complaints, trying cannabis can be beneficial, especially when combined with lifestyle changes, healthy eating and exercise. Remember that self-medication may not be the best for severe symptoms, so always speak to a medical professional who is knowledgeable in cannabis medicine.
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