Therapeutic Use of Marijuana in Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a painful, chronic condition that causes changes in your bowel habits. Familiar IBS symptoms of gas and bloating, along with alternating episodes of diarrhea and constipation, can get you down. It can also be embarrassing. You may also be worried about being too far away from home in case you need to use the bathroom.
Today, the cause of IBS is still under plenty of debate. Some have theorized IBS is caused by imbalances in gut flora, while others suggest it’s primarily a problem with the muscles of the colon, resulting in motility issues. Other theories abound.
While more research is needed to confirm the cause, patients right now need effective treatments to help them manage the symptoms of IBS. One question is whether or not medical cannabis could help.
Studies have shown that both THC and CBD can be of value when treating IBS. THC can reduce intestinal motility (spontaneous movement) and, thus, alleviated both colonic spasms and abdominal pain in IBS sufferers. We also know that the non-psychoactive CBD helps decrease inflammation. There is no clear-cut answer as to which will be most helpful to you, or what combination thereof. Best to get a prescription, get a journal and start experimenting with microdosing both.
One theory about IBS suggests it’s caused by a deficiency of endocannabinoids. These substances are produced naturally in the body. Chemically, they’re very similar to substances like THC and CBD, which are found naturally in cannabis. It’s known endocannabinoids play a role in the gastrointestinal tract, which lends credibility to this theory. Some preliminary research has also demonstrated that people with IBS tend to have lower levels of endocannabinoids. Medical cannabis could help correct an endocannabinoid deficiency by supplementing the body’s natural supply with cannabinoids. In turn, this could help reduce symptoms of IBS.
Vaping the dried herb will help rebalance your system, but for a more targeted approach, you may want to try oils or a decarboxylated (or decarbed) product (Hydropothecary makes a beautiful milled decarbed product that you can encapsulate) that travel through the digestive tract.
It’s interesting to note the role muscles play in IBS, however, as IBS is usually understood to primarily affect the motility of the GI tract. This means the muscles don’t function as they should. Instead of the usual slow movements, the muscles become spastic and hypersensitive. This can lead to either diarrhea or constipation. IBS was even referred to as “spastic colon” in the past.
Given medical marijuana’s effect on muscle spasticity, there’s reason to believe it may be able to reduce these issues in cases of IBS.
The symptoms of IBS typically fluctuate in their occurrence and severity. In many patients, symptoms are significantly reduced — or even disappear — following a bowel movement. As always, talk to your doctor if you suspect you may have IBS. If you think you may want to try the cannabis route as your treatment of choice, you may want to self-refer and schedule an appointment with a physician at Natural Health Services.
Source: canabomedicalclinic.com, naturalhealthservices.ca, marijuanadoctors.com