Medical use of cannabis has a long history but, the renewed interest in its therapeutic effects emerges after its legalization in various nations worldwide. Already used for recreational purposes, it has the potential to alleviate many health problems. Ranging from chronic and debilitating problems including cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, to neuropathic pain cannabis is a one-stop solution to many ailments. Gastrointestinal disorder is also among one. But before digging into the benefits of cannabis in treating GI disorders, let’s find out more about cannabis and their active ingredients.
So, what is CBD exactly? Well, cannabis contains over 100 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids and among these compounds D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) are the most famous among them. It is CBD from these cannabinoids, that has numerous benefits and hence so much in demand. The only difference between CBD and THC lies in the fact that CBD is devoid of the psychoactive property of THC, which means its consumption doesn’t make the user intoxicated. The user can vape, smoke, or consume them orally to derive the medical benefits of cannabinoids. Edibles like THC gummies are a reliable source of getting proper dosages of medical cannabis to reduce the symptoms in GI disorders.
How cannabinoids help treat GI disorders
Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is the complex biological system that interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors found throughout the body to provide stability. With the discovery of the ECS, there are constant researches on the impact of external cannabinoids (that are present in cannabis) over internal endocannabinoids present in ECS. The cannabinoids have similar molecular structures like endocannabinoids. THC and CBD thus react with CB receptors to regulate pain, stress, appetite, gastrointestinal motility, nausea, vomiting, and more in the GI tract. Here are three amazing benefits of cannabinoids to consider it as a potential treatment for GI disorders.
1. Cannabinoids can reduce Nausea and Vomiting.
Quite common in GI, nausea, and vomitings are distressing symptoms that can affect daily activities. Conventional antiemetics can treat vomiting successfully, but do not help reduce the feeling of nausea. Cannabinoids inhibit both the symptoms effectively. Furthermore, cannabinoids can interact with CB1 receptors and reduce the action and feeling of spewing in gastrointestinal problems. The use of synthetic cannabinoids like dronabinol, nabilone, levonantradol, and Sativex, can even suppress emesis in chemotherapy treatment. Although THC is primarily used to attenuate nausea and vomiting, a controlled dose of CBD is also successful in treating emesis produced by chemotherapy or other treatments.
2. Cannabinoids can be helpful in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestines. Symptoms can vary from bloating, constipation, diarrhea, cramping, gas, and others. Although a change in diet or reducing stress can help, in more severe conditions, medication is the only option. Dronabinol, which is a synthetic drug based on THC, can affect the colon transit and reduce diarrhea. THC activates the CB2 receptors found in the GI tract and reduce motility and hypersensitivity in the gut. It can also slow down the colon activity to control diarrhea that is predominant in IBS.
3. Cannabinoids can treat Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD).
Although the actual cause of this disease is unknown, Inflammatory Bowel Disease describes disorders that involve chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Two types of problems, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are seen in IBS that results in damage to the digestive tract. Clinical studies show that cannabinoids can induce T cell death and suppress the excessive production of inflammatory cytokines that contributes to inflammatory diseases.
Further, cannabinoids can impede gastrointestinal motility disorders and intestinal secretion that may cause diarrhea, which is quite common in IBD. The analgesic effect of cannabinoids can also reduce abdominal pain and can restore the intestinal barrier that prevents antigens from damaging the tissues of the GI tract.
The bottom line
Cannabis has many medical and therapeutic benefits for GI disorders. But you can’t rule out the possibilities of side-effects it may show in some users. Fatigue, anxiety, and irregular heart rate can be some of them. Long term use can also induce problems that include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Before administering any cannabis products, make sure to consult a medical practitioner for better guidance. The gastrointestinal disorder can be troublesome, and the use of cannabis may make your life a lot easier. Just remember the right advice, and a perfect dose is a key to faster recovery.