Marijuana and Treatment of Digestive Disorders

Licensed users and growers of medical marijuana know that the plant can be used to treat a variety of diseases and symptoms related to the gastrointestinal system. This isn’t a bunch of stupid stoners trying to find a medical excuse to get high, folks, this is the real deal- the herb heals! The use of medical marijuana to treat digestive system problems is time-tested, and is usually a safer intervention than the use of pharmaceutical drugs or surgery.

Chron’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ulcers, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, anorexia, bulimia, acid reflux, and appetite loss are some of the diseases and conditions that medical marijuana patients have treated using medical marijuana.

Studies indicate that cannabinoids in marijuana bind with cannabinoid receptors in the digestive tract, especially the small and large intestine, causing muscle relaxation, reduction of inflammation, analgesia, increased nerve-muscle coordination, anti-emesis, and relief of spasms such as those that cause nausea.

Cannabis is also an adaptogenic immune system modulator that can increase or decrease immune systems function in ways that almost always contribute to healthier outcomes.

Cannabis is unique among medicines because it has a comprehensive range of actions that can alleviate several symptoms by altering how the body and brain communicate, and how the self perceives its internal organs and systems.

The self-feedback loop that produces nausea in some circumstances, which includes a feeling of dizziness that circles back on itself to produce fear, tension and more dizziness, is often defeated by cannabis.

Indeed, research shows that cannabis can relieve symptoms in unique ways that no other medicine can duplicate.

Medical benefits of marijuana for people with gastrointestinal disorders were backed up by the United States Institute of Medicine medical marijuana study. According to the Institute, “For patients who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication.”

Medical cannabis has been a blessing for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. These diseases cause diarrhea or constipation, nausea, and intestinal inflammation, pain and the inability of the digestive system to absorb nutrients.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can cause pain, bloating, flatulence, cramps, spasms, motility loss, constipation, and diarrhea.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a term that describes Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. Ulcerative colitis inflames the lining of the large intestine. Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of the lining and wall of the large and/or small intestine. The typical symptoms of Crohn’s are diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and fever. Crohn’s can cause intestinal blockages and ulcerations that might require surgery. Ulcerative Colitis can cause abdominal cramps, sharp pain, low energy, weight loss, arthritic symptoms, eye problems, and liver disease.

These disorders can be crippling. In extreme cases, they may result in long-term hospitalization or surgery. The unique ability of medical cannabis to alleviate most of these symptoms is becoming more widely known in the medical community.

Recreational and medical marijuana users have long known that cannabis has an effect of appetite. The increase in appetite that often accompanies cannabis use has been called “the munchies.”

Scientists studying this phenomenon note that it probably involves blood sugar levels and other physiological markers affected by cannabis.

Many professional studies have shown that cannabis stimulates appetite and weight gain. Researchers say that medical cannabis users have to be careful to moderate their intake of carbohydrates and sugars when they are responding to the munchies. It is best to eat less carbos and sugars and eat more organic vegetables, fruits and protein, rather than to pig out on candy or ice cream.

Cannabis helps combat cramping that accompanies many GI disorders because cannabinoids relax contractions of the smooth muscle of the intestines. Research shows that the body’s own cannabinoids, known as anandamides, affect neurological systems that control the gastrointestinal system. External and internal cannabinoids strongly control gastrointestinal motility and inflammation. They also have the ability to decrease gastrointestinal fluid secretion and inflammation. This means that cannabis can be useful to stop ulcers and other syndromes.

The chronic pain and spasms that accompany many gastrointestinal disorders are a life hindrance to those who suffer from IBS and other diseases. Medical cannabis is a very effective pain reliever. It blocks spinal, peripheral and gastrointestinal mechanisms that promote pain in IBS and related disorders. It also can be used against gastroesophageal reflux disease (acid reflux). When acid reflux occurs, gastric acids attack the esophagus. The pharmaceutical medicines that doctors prescribe for this condition are in some ways as bad as the condition itself. They prescribe drugs like atropine, for example, which have severe side-effects.

Pharmaceutical drugs commonly prescribed to combat GI disorders include:

Megestrol acetate (Megace), an anticachectic. This substance can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, inflammation of the blood vessels, congestive heart failure, seizures, and pneumonia. Less serious side effects of this medicine include diarrhea, flatulence, nausea, vomiting, constipation, heartburn, dry mouth, increased salivation, and thrush; impotence, decreased libido, urinary frequency, urinary incontinence, urinary tract infection, vaginal bleeding and discharge; disease of the heart, palpitation, chest pain, chest pressure, and edema; pharyngitis, lung disorders, and rapid breathing; insomnia, headache, weakness, numbness, seizures, depression, and abnormal thinking.

Metronidazole (Flagyl) is carcinogenic. Patients treated with Metronidazole have reported convulsive seizures and peripheral neuropathy. Ironically, this medicine causes problems in the gastrointestinal tract; nausea is reported by about 12% of patients, and is sometimes accompanied by headache, anorexia, and occasionally vomiting; diarrhea; epigastric distress, and abdominal cramping. Constipation has also been reported.

Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) -Common adverse reactions associated with sulfasalazine are anorexia, headache, nausea, vomiting, gastric distress, and apparently reversible oligospermia. These occur in about one-third of the patients. Less frequent adverse reactions are pruritus, urticaria, fever, Heinz body anemia, hemolytic anemia and cyanosis, which may occur at a frequency of one in every thirty patients or less.

Chlordiazepoxide/Clidinium (Librax) – Drowsiness, ataxia and confusion have been reported in some patients, particularly the elderly and debilitated. Adverse effects reported with use of Librax are those typical of anticholinergic agents, i.e., dryness of the mouth, blurring of vision, urinary hesitancy and constipation. Withdrawal symptoms, similar in character to those noted with barbiturates and alcohol (convulsions, tremor, abdominal and muscle cramps, vomiting and sweating), have occurred following abrupt discontinuance of chlordiazepoxide. Hyoscyamine Sulfate (Levsin) – Adverse reactions may include dryness of the mouth; urinary hesitancy and retention; blurred vision; tachycardia; palpitations; mydriasis; cycloplegia; increased ocular tension; loss of taste; headache; nervousness; drowsiness; weakness; dizziness; insomnia; nausea; vomiting; impotence; suppression of lactation; constipation; bloated feeling; allergic reactions or drug idiosyncrasies; urticaria and other dermal manifestations; ataxia; speech disturbance; some degree of mental confusion and/or excitement (especially in elderly persons); and decreased sweating.

Mesalamine CR (Pentasa) – Common side effects are diarrhea, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, dyspepsia, vomiting, and rash

Phosphorated carbohydrate (Emetrol) – Side effects include: fainting; swelling of face, arms, and legs; unusual bleeding; vomiting; weight loss; yellow eyes or skin. Less common-more common with large doses: Diarrhea; stomach or abdominal pain.

Dicyclomine (Bentyl) – Can cause blurred vision, dry mouth, heart problems, seizures, impotence, and difficulty in urinating, among other effects.

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) – The most frequent side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, rash, headache, and restlessness. Rare allergic reactions have been described, such as hives and anaphylaxis (shock). Methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall) – Is very toxic, depending on dose. The most frequent reactions include mouth sores, stomach upset, and low white blood counts. Methotrexate can cause severe toxicity of the liver and bone marrow, which require regular monitoring with blood testing. It can cause headache and drowsiness, which may resolve if the dose is lowered. Methotrexate can cause itching, skin rash, dizziness, and hair loss.

Diphenoxylate and atropine (Lotomil) – Bad effects include drowsiness, dizziness, and headache, nausea or vomiting, and dry mouth. Euphoria, depression, lethargy, restlessness, numbness of extremities, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain or discomfort has been reported less frequently. Although the dose of atropine in Lomotil is too low to cause side effects when taken in the recommended doses, side effects of atropine (including dryness of the skin and mucous membranes, increased heart rate, urinary retention, and increased body temperature) have been reported, particularly in children under 2.

Prednisone (Delatasone). This is a steroid drug that can have serious adverse musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, dermatologic, neurological, endocrine, and ophthalmic side effects. These include: congestive heart failure in susceptible patients, potassium loss, hypokalemic alkalosis, sodium retention, and hypertension. Muscle weakness, steroid myopathy, loss of muscle mass, osteoporosis, tendon rupture, vertebral compression fractures, aseptic necrosis of femoral and humeral heads, and pathologic fracture of long bones. Peptic ulcer with possible perforation and hemorrhage; pancreatitis; abdominal distention; ulcerative esophagitis. Impaired wound healing, thin fragile skin, petechiae and ecchymoses, facial erythema. Increased intracranial pressure, usually after treatment, convulsions, vertigo, and headache. Menstrual irregularities; development of Cushingoid state; secondary adrenocortical and pituitary unresponsiveness; decreased carbohydrate tolerance; manifestations of latent diabetes mellitus. Posterior subcapsular cataracts, increased intraocular pressure, glaucoma, and exophthalmos.

Given this verified list of problems that can be created by prescription drugs used to treat gastrointestinal disorders, and the lack of such problems caused by medical marijuana which provides better relief, it’s amazing that medical marijuana is not already the most popularly prescribed medication for such disorders.

The overall opinion of enlightened people in the medical community is that medical cannabis can interact with the endogenous cannabinoid system to reduce problems associated with nausea, vomiting, gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, secretory diarrhea, paralytic ileus and gastroesophageal reflux disease.

It is true that cannabis has to be used intelligently. Some people are disconcerted by spiritual, psychological, physiological and emotional changes they experience after using cannabis. Cannabis in rare cases increases schizophrenic symptoms in people who already have a predisposition for schizophrenia. Cannabis can interfere with cognitive function and body coordination, although the impairment is relatively minor and is temporary. Tachycardia and hypotension often occur with cannabis use. Ingesting cannabis as a smoked substance can cause negative effects on the respiratory system. Some people develop a tolerance to cannabis and have to use more and more of it to achieve the same results. Others develop a psychological dependence on it.

As you can see, none of these side effects come close to being as severe as the ones cited for the prescription drugs that cannabis competes with.

Licensed medical marijuana grower-patients who grow medical marijuana using organic ingredients and properly engineered synthetic ingredients have told us that cannabis provides a wide range of relief, without severe side-effects, in ways that other drugs, treatment and surgery do not.

Medical cannabis patients also report that other interventions are useful during the cannabis regimen. These interventions include detoxifying and cleansing the internal body with herbs, vitamins and supplements, eating only pure, living foods, completely abstaining from junk foods, coffee, caffeine and alcohol, doing yoga and meditation, exercise, nature experiences, and various types of bodywork such as cranial-sacral therapy.

21 comments to Marijuana and Treatment of Digestive Disorders

  • Elizabeth

    Today’s MJ strains or almost absent of CBD which our pot of the 60s and 70’s ad a proper balance of. This would explain why “Anonymous” didn’t have her physical problems in her youth as a pot smoker.
    Its important for medical MJ seekers to learn about the various compounds that are in various types of MJ and to seek out dispensaries that are well versed in medical usage and well supplied with appropriate types for medical usage, including for pain. If you don’t want to get high, you don’t have to. I use CBD for neuropathic pain of Trigeminal Neuralgia for treatment of the Trigeminal nerve and THCA (not /THC) for sudden sever shock like attacks of severe pain, and compounds in different ratios of both. Sadly we are somewhat on our own because so little accepted medical research has been done and our primaqry care and specialists are not well learned about MMJ. Hopefully if the Feds ever make it legal, proper and plenty of research will get done.

  • Irisch

    When using cannabis for pain. How much do you intake and how long does it last before you’re in pain again? Besides IBS I also suffer from high acid relux and chronic ulcers.

    • Betty mydland

      There are some factors involved that determine how quickly the affects are felt.
      1. Grade and strain of marijuana
      2. Age
      3. Weight
      4. Other health blockers I.e., high blood pressure, copd, etc.

      Cannibis is great for these condition but often dictate how quickly mj blocks pain. I suffer from PERMANETLY pinched sciatic nerve. Was given prednisone for ten days and did very little to ellieviate the pain. Once off the prednisone I smoked a pipe of pineapple train wreck strain and within 10 minutes the pain was gone. Now, I am 65, 5’5″ and weigh 135 lbs. hope this helps

  • JJ

    I started using marijuana to stimulate my appetite when i was bulimic/anorexic in my younger years. I must have had IBS most of my life. Now @ 49 I use marijuana regularly and have found it has become a vicious cycle. I use it to combat my cramping, pain and loss of appetite, but then when my appepetie is stimulated i over eat so i go and adjust it. I get hungry again so it is a vicious cycle. I wish I had the help of a doctor to regulate. I have a happy marriage, 2 wonderful sons who are completely drug free, have jobs and are just really good people. I have ZERO desire to “do drugs”. So this is certainly not a stepping stone or a gateway drug for me. I’m tierd of doctors giving me pharmaceuticals that are way worse than POT. I just want a life with quality.

  • Carl

    Marijuana does help at first with I.B.S then it turns on you . Drug is just like any drug . To get relief you have be stoned all day . That gets old quick . Medical marijuana made my I.B.S worse and know i am physiologically addicted to it . I think it is bull info for long term digestive problems . I do not recommend it .

  • Emmy

    Hello everyone! Can someone please help me!?
    I desperatly want to try marijuana treatment for my severe IBS.. I have battled with this condition since I was 7 years old. I have tried Eeevrything, every damn medicine thats out there but Nothing has worked, now my condition has taken a turn for the worse and I can no longer live like this! Cant work and cant hardly get threw the day without crying my eyes out..
    i live in Sweden, its not legal here to smoke, eat or take medical marijuana..
    can someone please tell me where I can get medical marijuana and how?? Please can someone help me with this. Mail me on !
    Thank you in advance!
    Kind regards Emmy

  • Anonymous

    Today I started researching cannabis as an adaptogen and found this site. I’ve had Chron’s disease since I was 17 and I’m 69 now. I see Dr. Jeff Hergenrather here on Northern California and started seriously using marijuana medicinally and was finally ready to go off Humira (a very heavy drug) and I’ve never been better. I’ve experimented with different methods -including vaporizing but ingesting in food and taking tincture work best. My husband makes my tinctures now from local plants and taking that also helps his afflictions. I still have a GI doctor and agreed to stay on Sulfasalazine. As I see the scientific evidence of these healing properties more I keep gaining more insights. As well as being reminded of the ill effects of other drugs. Finding this site was important today because I see that the anemias I have were probably induced by the Sulfa and I’m ready to let it go. I also realize the years in my life when I was healthiest (as a theater worker/actor/playwright/teacher) were the years when I did marijuana recreationally. DUH! …Thanks for this forum.

  • David Wright

    Hi, I have had acid reflux for the last fifteen years.I had to stop using mj because it would agitate this condition. What strain do you recommend that would help me out.

  • Debbie

    After reading this I have to admit it does help me understand a lot more of what my daughter goes through every day of her life I know shes in pain I just never understood how Marijuana could take away that pain. Little did I know.

  • jessi

    hi Gio Navarrete id recomened cup cakes what i do is powderize an oz or oz and 1/2 and mix it in the the dry cake mix evenly you’ll need to add a bit extra margerine and or egg but 2 to 4 mini cup cakes works for my ibs… incodently don’t worry if your stool turns green.

  • jessi

    My almost 3 month old daughter was resently dignosed as having gerd she was on breast milk fortified with cannibus for 4 or 5 days before she was apprehended due to discrimination against my elleged mental health. Sense being apprehended and put on formula she just pukes up, in addition they have changed the brand of formula at least 3 times. Breatfeeding expert Jack Newmen told me I can and should breastfeed while useing marijuana for my own health benifents. I have read about other children and the uses of medical marijuana. Any info would be great ty

    • Anonymous

      Too late to help now, but my son did the same thing due to the iron in most formulas. He would projectile vomit regular formula. I had to find a formula with no iron.

  • meech

    This article and the comments have been very helpful. Marijuana definitely has been helping me battle my sensitive stomach for over 5 years now.

  • Gio Navarrete

    It looks like I have IBS. Doctors doing all the tests and ruling out other potential causes, but its a lot of bloating, pain, discomfort, nausea (in the morning), night sweats, weight loss, no appetite, loss of motility–and have to go to the bathroom every 20 mins (at its worse).

    Based on my own research, I decided to try medical marijuana, and I want to confirm that cannabis really does work for IBS symptoms. I’m too health conscious to smoke it, so I vape and eat it. I found vaping does away with the discomforts–no more pain, and I feel much better. However, my bowel movements don’t go back to normal until I eat substantial amounts–of at least 1/2 gram a day–up to 1 gram a day—of edible cannabis oil extract. Its used to treat serious illnesses like cancer, etc. Often goes by the name Rick Simpson oil.

    Anyway, I wanted to report that eating a little bit of this with food, completely clears all the symptoms of IBS (at least for me). But the symptoms start to come back slowly if I stop using it for 2 days or so. So it is not a cure. But it does work. Its too expensive so i’m hoping this conditions goes away. Until then medical marijuana has been almost like a miracle–as if someone tailed make the perfect medicine for this condition treating all its symptoms. I love that it stimulates my appetites again, as I usually love food, and have gained back some of my lost weight.

  • Ali

    My husband has been suffering with an extremely rare illness which causes crippling abdominal pain. We have gone through all of the proper medical channels and nothing worked. Yesterday I strongly urged him to try marijuana. (We both live at the gym and have not used any type of recreational drugs). The marijuana worked!!!! We now have hope that he can not live a life of agony! Frankly I would rather he have the marijuana than “approved” drugs like dilaudid or Percocet. This is a no brainer and so many people could be helped. So glad the marijuana laws are changing! Keep up the good work educating people! So many medicines come from plants, aspirin, tamoxifen, what’s the difference, right?

  • Bunny Wilson

    This information was very reasurring & helpful.

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