Irritable bowel syndrome tops the list for being the least glamorous and most inconvenient health issue. Symptoms range from abdominal pain and cramping to bloating, constipation, weight loss, rectal bleeding, and vomiting, not to mention diarrhea.
Although there are ways to manage IBS, including switching some of your food intakes and taking traditional medication, there might be something more natural and less conventional. We tend to associate Cannabis with other things such as alleviating chemotherapy symptoms, lowering anxiety, and making people high. Easing IBS symptoms doesn’t usually top its list of functions, but it might just be the secret weapon to treat your IBS discomfort, as you will learn from this article.
The science behind Cannabis
The Cannabis Sativa plant species contain hundreds of cannabinoids, and researchers have only just begun to understand the benefits of some of them. The most popular cannabinoids on the market are CBD and THC—the latter has two derivates—delta-8-THC and delta-9-THC.
Researchers are beginning to uncover the potential benefits of delta-8-THC, delta-9, and CBD from the limited studies conducted to date. These cannabinoids work by manipulating the endocannabinoid system’s (ECS) receptors. The ECS is a molecular system that keeps the body in a continual state of balance, also known as homeostasis. Such a system manages body functions such as temperature, mood, appetite, and sleep, and you find it in all beings, including vertebrates and invertebrate animals.
The ECS uses its receptors to stimulate change in the mind and body. Cannabinoids go in search of these receptors to implement change. Researchers have observed how THC binds to the receptors. In contrast, CBD signals to them without binding, and that’s how it triggers a difference in the body.
For example, THC can bind with the brain’s CB1 receptors to trigger the release of dopamine. It’s because of this chemical alteration that THC users experience a sense of euphoria. On the other hand, CBD can signal the receptors into secreting more serotonin in the body—a natural mood stabilizer. As a result, CBD users experience fewer anxiety symptoms.
IBS and the lack of cannabinoids in the ECS
Researchers believe IBS could result from deficiencies in the ECS. The theory states that when there aren’t enough natural cannabinoids in the ECS, disorders such as IBS and fibromyalgia result. For this reason, some researchers believe that cannabis use could promote better cannabinoid balance in the ECS and prevent conditions of this kind. In one study, researchers noted how cannabis users saw an improvement in gastrointestinal issues, including vomiting, nausea, IBS, gastric ulcers, and Crohn’s disease.
Cannabinoids for IBS symptoms
More studies are required to confirm the former theory. However, other studies show encouraging results in helping to combat IBS symptoms. Primarily, cannabinoids can lessen the pain caused by stomach cramps, vomiting, and additional tension in the stomach. Research shows that cannabis can ease pain in various chronic disorders, from arthritis to multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia.
Anxiety is common for IBS sufferers as well. When nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting are constant issues, it can be hard to be at ease when you’re not in the comfort of your own home. Cannabinoids such as the non-intoxicating psychoactive CBD can help lower stress and anxiety and help you feel more relaxed.
Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3 percent THC can balance the body’s cortisol levels by inhibiting the stress hormone’s overproduction from taking away the focus from other body functions. Moreover, CBD can trigger the body to release more serotonin and GABA. The latter two are critical hormones that infuse us with feelings of well-being and lower the risk of anxiety symptoms.
Using Cannabis with Caution
Although early evidence shows encouraging signs regarding cannabis benefits for IBS sufferers, no specific data correlates the two together. The best-case scenario for IBS patients is that using cannabis can minimize the intake of traditional medication and live more comfortably. With such a supplement, users can experience relief from the daily mental and physical struggles which IBS brings with it, such as pain and anxiety. Still, there is no specific research that proves that cannabinoids can permanently treat IBS.
If you still wish to try variants of cannabis, it’s best to consult a medical professional who can advise on the right brands and the best dose to start with. A professional will know whether the cannabinoids risk blocking the work of other IBS medication you are taking, which could cause more harm than good.
Besides the potential benefits of something as natural as cannabis, there are other ways you can support your ECS and reduce your IBS symptoms. Practicing meditation, having adequate amounts of rest, and adopting a calmer demeanor will help, as stress can increase the severity of your symptoms. Other ways to improve your IBS include seeking a trained nutritionist’s advice and getting a massage.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily WeSay.