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Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Marijuana: Can It Help?

by in Medical Marijuana September 30, 2021

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a common gastrointestinal condition across America. Data shows that 10-15% of people worldwide may have it. Uncomfortable and long-lasting, IBS can really hurt the quality of life of those who have it. However, relief from IBS may be possible with marijuana. But how would an IBS marijuana treatment work?

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. The main symptoms of IBS are usually diarrhea, constipation, or a mix of both. IBS can sometimes be confused with other conditions that affect your intestines, like Crohn’s Disease or celiac disease.

Other symptoms of IBS can include cramping, bloating, weight loss, rectal bleeding, fever, nausea, abdominal pain, and anemia. Fortunately, there is no evidence that IBS affects bowel tissue or makes the person who has it more likely to get colorectal cancer. However, since these symptoms are similar to other bowel-related illnesses, it is probably important that you talk to a doctor about it.

People who have IBS and other gastrointestinal illnesses may be able to find some relief through medical marijuana. How might this work?

A diagram of the human digestive system

Endocannabinoids and IBS

There are lots of chemicals in cannabis that affect the way a marijuana IBS treatment works. Our bodies seem designed to use cannabis. The human body has what’s called an “endocannabinoid system” that receives signals from some of the chemicals in marijuana. These chemicals can be received all over the body, including in our digestive systems. That is what has inspired researchers to seek out potential IBS weed treatments.

There is a lot of research being done right now, too. The first link between cannabinoid receptors and IBS was proposed in 2003 by researcher Ethan B. Russo. His research suggested that the pain and inflammation of certain bowel conditions, including IBS, can be blocked by cannabinoid chemicals.

Because IBS is linked to other issues, like fibromyalgia and migraines, which cannabis can also treat, there seems to be a connection between them all. This makes a lot of sense. Because other conditions seemed to be linked with IBS in many cases, it seems as though several chronic issues could benefit from cannabis-based treatment. It does not cure IBS, but it seems cannabis might be helpful for many people suffering from that type of symptom.

Can Medical Marijuana Help?

One of the main arguments in favor of medical marijuana in IBS treatment is that there is evidence that cannabis can affect how our guts work. Existing studies are promising because they show that marijuana might help relieve the symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases like IBS, ulcerative colitis, and others. When we use cannabis, the endocannabinoids help protect the digestive system from inflammation and acids in the stomach.

More research is needed, however, studies on modified cannabinoids such as dronabinol (derived for cancer patients) are showing some promise, too. Human bodies seem to appreciate the more natural method of treatment. Despite the need for more research, the future of IBS marijuana-based treatment is bright. It seems that introducing cannabis into one’s treatment of IBS and other similar conditions could provide some form of relief.

A closeup of some cannabis leaves in the sun.

Medical Marijuana Legalities

It is important to note that the legal status of medicinal marijuana differs from state to state. For example, 18 qualifying conditions in Arkansas allow patients to apply for a state marijuana card. Though Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not currently on this list, multiple illnesses similar to IBS, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and fibromyalgia are.

Check your state’s laws to see if marijuana can be legally used to help you. If you are dealing with IBS or another chronic bowel condition, you should speak to a doctor, too. IBS may be associated with another condition where medical marijuana is a potential relief option.

At Ozark MMJ Cards, we provide medical marijuana card certification and tips on submitting your paperwork to the government, too. Check our service areas to see if we can help you get certified, or contact us for more info!

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