Those suffering from a gastrointestinal disorder often find their lives ruled by the disease.
There are numerous disorders that fall under the GI umbrella, including irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux and inflammatory bowel disease, which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Symptoms can be debilitating, and may include:
- Painful cramping
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Rectal bleeding
- Joint pain
- Diverticulitis (inflammation or infection of the digestive tract)
- Gas and/or bloating
In general, treatment options include antibiotics, dietary changes and surgical intervention.
Some of the prescription medications used to battle GI disorders come with serious side effects including high blood pressure, diabetes, congestive heart failure, osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass, neuropathy, depression, difficulty urinating and insomnia, among many others. In many cases, the side effects are either just as dangerous as the disorder the drug was treating or more so.
While researchers aren’t certain what causes gastrointestinal problems, stress is a factor, according to Dr. Christine Frissora, a gastroenterologist at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, because stress boosts levels of the hormone norepinephrine, which in turn elevates bacteria levels in the gut.
Added bacteria that can’t be controlled by the body’s antioxidants could lead to digestive woes.
Medical marijuana, however, could make other treatment options obsolete, and not just because it offers natural stress relief and has very few reported side effects.
There are several reasons, including marijuana’s powerful ability to act as an antioxidant, reducing free radical activity, that medical marijuana has been gaining traction as a treatment option for gastrointestinal disorders.
The cannabinoids in marijuana, especially THC and CBD, activate the cannabinoid receptors in the GI tract, which not only helps ease inflammation, improving gut function, but also helps promote healing of damaged GI tract tissue, potentially healing ulcers as well.
Studies of medical marijuana on gastrointestinal disorders date back to the 1970s, and research reveals that in addition to reducing tissue damage and inflammation, the cannabinoids in cannabis also help restore and regulate a healthy digestive tract by boosting the immune system, which lives primarily in the gut, improving overall health.
The same cannabinoids also help ease pain by mimicking the endocannabinoids the body makes naturally, which are responsible for a variety of functions including pain management.
They also help ease cramping by encouraging the relaxing contractions of the smooth muscle of the intestines.
“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,” reported the Institute of Medicine, a non-profit now known as the National Academy of Medicine.
A 2014 study from a team of researchers from the University of Colorado, Aurora and at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical University in New Hampshire found that the endocannabinoid system plays such a big role in the gastrointestinal system that the cannabinoids in medical marijuana have to be helpful.
“Marijuana … appears to hold promise as a modifier of gastrointestinal symptoms,” researchers said. “As medical marijuana use continues to grow in the United States, physicians must take the lead in understanding the risks and benefits in order to provide accurate information to patients.”
If you or a loved one has a gastrointestinal disorder and want to get medical marijuana treatment in Puerto Rico, we can help. We make the process easy. Click here to get started. This process is legal and your privacy is assured.