Have you considered using weed to help your stomach issues? Often when people talk about stomach issues they can be referring to any gastrointestinal issue such as vomiting, diarrhea, etc. Since weed has a long list of ailments it promises to alleviate, it makes sense for people to wonder if weed can help stomach issues. Here’s what we know.
Marijuana For GI Problems: Is it Effective?
It can be! Remember, weed can be used to treat pain, and nausea which are common GI problems.
According to a 2017 review, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) exerts biological functions on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In addition to that, the review mentioned that weed has been used to treat GI tract issues such as abdominal pain and diarrhea.
How? Well, the endocannabinoid system is found in the gut. The review said, “The endocannabinoid system (i.e. endogenous circulating cannabinoids) performs protective activities in the GI tract and presents a promising therapeutic target against various GI conditions.”
While the review admits that marijuana can have some positive impact on the gut, the clinical efficacy of cannabis and its constituents for various GI disorders are still not known.
In addition to the review, the Gastrointestinal Society agrees that marijuana can treat abdominal pain and other issues such as:
- Increasing appetite
- Reducing diarrhea
- Alleviating nausea
There is also evidence that marijuana can help alleviate symptoms of conditions that affect the GI tract such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?
IBD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a “term for two conditions (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) that are characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract”.
The CDC stated that there is no known exact cause for IBD. However, they do know that an incorrect response of the immune system to environmental triggers causes inflammation of the gut. In addition to that, there may be a genetic link which means it may run in the family.
While there are specific tests to diagnose IBD, the common symptoms of this disease are:
- Weight loss
- Persistent diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Rectal bleeding/bloody stools
Weed Helps to Alleviate Symptoms of IBD
According to Time, there is a growing interest in the use of medical marijuana for IBD symptom relief. Usually, as the CDC documents, IBD is treated with a variety of medications such as aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, and immunomodulators.
However, sufferers of the disease are finding relief with weed. A 2013 study shows that people with IBD who smoked weed experienced some relief from the condition. The study said that of the 16.4% of the people who used weed, the majority said they had relief of:
- Abdominal pain
While this sounds great, as with all studies, there are some important limitations for this one. For example, the study admitted that the patients were recalling from memory. Therefore, this can cause recall bias. The study said, “patients whose IBD symptoms improved may be more likely to search their memories for a causal event, specifically marijuana use.”
At the same time, there are several other small studies that show similar results to the 2013 study. One that was cited by the GI Society was very small with 30 participants. However, 70% of patients of Crohn’s disease got relief from using marijuana. The participants reported a decrease in symptom severity. In addition to that, some of them were able to either reduce or eliminate the medication they were taking.
Time also spoke to an individual with IBD who uses cannabis for relief. The patient, Joe Silverman, used THC and CBD capsules. Silverman told Time, “Within an hour and a half of taking them, I felt better. The bloating and pain went down, and my appetite came back.”
While weed appears to alleviate symptoms, it’s not clear whether or not weed treats the underlying problem. Jordan Tishler told Time, “there isn’t a lot of evidence that cannabis really modifies the underlying disease process.”
Can Weed Cause Stomach Issues?
It’s rare but it has happened. Some people who use high concentration marijuana products such as wax frequently or just use weed often may experience Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS). CHS is characterized by severe vomiting.
Cleveland Clinic says there are three phases of this condition. The first phase, called the prodromal phase, happens most frequently with people who use weed as teens. Someone in this phase may experience abdominal pain or morning nausea. The hyperemetic phase, which is the second phase, can last up to 2 days. It comes with recurrent vomiting and nausea. Finally, The recovery phase, as the name suggests, is characterized by the reduction and ceasing of symptoms. For many people that means giving up weed.
As we mentioned it’s rare and according to the Cleveland Clinic, “6% of people who visited the emergency room for vomiting had CHS.” At the same time, this is a fairly new condition and so there is a chance it was misdiagnosed or underreported.
Can weed help stomach issues? Absolutely. Besides the CHS which is rare, the research shows very promising results that weed can alleviate many stomach or other GI tract issues. We look forward to other research around this topic in the future.
Do you have more burning questions around cannabis?
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