An interesting phenomenon that some experience when using cannabis is a change in bowel habits. You may have noticed that after partaking in a smoking sesh, eating an edible, or medicating with marijuana, you have the urge to poop. This change doesn’t usually happen until after you use weed. Many don’t realize it, but cannabis has many effects on the body, especially stimulating the digestive tract.
Continue reading to learn if weed has an effect on your bowel movements, if there are some side effects or risks you should know of that can impact your bowel health, and what you should do if you experience any issues when you poop after using cannabis.
The ability to relax and counteract stress plays an important role in how regular your bowel movements are. Many people have trouble pooping in unfamiliar environments and are more comfortable going at home. Even when and how you use the bathroom is a private and personal experience, stress can make it challenging to go even at home.
Because weed induces relaxation, it is not easy for users to wait until they are safe in their bathrooms to go. In fact, many users find that they have a stronger and more frequent urge to void their bowels, regardless of where they are after using cannabis. This is good news for those who suffer from constipation or irregular bowel habits. But for those who suffer from diarrhea or more frequent poop urges, not so much.
Cannabis is wildly popular for its stress relief and relaxing qualities. Throughout the centuries, it’s been used for medicinal and recreational therapeutic properties, including soothing digestive ailments. Because cannabis contains cannabinoids that interact directly with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body, it has an enormous impact on digestion and bowel movements.
The gastrointestinal tract contains cannabinoid receptors that regulate bowel activity. Although there is limited evidence on the direct effects of marijuana and bowel function, there’s research available highlighting its influence on certain digestive and gastrointestinal-related disorders like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel disease (IBD), and inflammation in the gut. Many medical marijuana patients use it to improve appetite, fight nausea, prevent vomiting and regulate bowel habits. New studies show that cannabis is useful in helping users avoid constipation.
The human digestive tract houses a microbiome of bacteria that contributes to various aspects of health, including energy and nutrient synthesis, gut barrier protection, and immune system regulation and function. The ECS in the central and peripheral nervous systems also contributes to these functions in the gastrointestinal tract and throughout the body.
Clinical researchers have discovered the existence of a gut-endocannabinoid axis. This axis is responsible for the function of the gut barrier and intestinal permeability. The presence of certain endocannabinoids and probiotics, primarily bacteria, enhances both intestinal permeability and gut barrier protection. These both play important roles in your health. Cannabis is a substance that contains THC and CBD, among many other phytocannabinoids that interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system and throughout the digestive system and body. The nervous system has an abundance of CB1 receptors, while CB2 receptors are predominantly located in immune cells.
“With respect to the gut, CB1 is implicated in enteric nervous system function as it is found on both the submucosal neurons and myenteric neurons, which provide the means of modulating intestinal motility.”
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is a non-psychoactive component in weed that helps regulate gut motility to aid digestion. Numerous studies indicate that CBD has a relaxing effect on the muscles and nerves in the digestive system, along with its antioxidant properties, alleviates constipation and bowel irregularity, and is beneficial to overall gut health.
Research on the effects of THC as an effective therapeutic for IBD and gastrointestinal disorders and helps ensure bowel regularity remains limited. However, its benefits as an adjunctive therapy show promise, though clinicians don’t recommend it as a replacement for pharmaceutical treatments.
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If you’re experiencing symptoms like abdominal cramps, a decrease in bowel movements, passing hard stools, nausea, appetite loss, and pain when going to the bathroom, you have the hallmarks signs of constipation.
Medical weed can help with constipation. Marijuana users are less likely to experience constipation. Many are not aware that fruit derived from the marijuana plant, Fructus cannabis is a centuries-old constipation remedy that is reportedly more effective than senna and other bowel health and function herbs and supplements available today.
While regular use is required for patients to alleviate constipation, not everyone experiences positive changes in their bowel movement frequency. For some people with certain medical conditions, cannabis can have the opposite effect. Because constipation is not just associated with poor gut health, it’s important to improve the diet by increasing hydration. Prunes, apples, citrus fruits, dark green and leafy greens, beans, and chia seeds are good sources of constipation-fighting foods that are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and gut motility/bowel-stimulating substances.
Marijuana’s overall effect on your bowel and gut health is determined by its cannabinoid content. There are hundreds of cannabis cannabinoids, with only a small percentage of them known and moderately researched. Also, there are reports of constipation developing as a side effect of long-term usage, which is also associated with tolerance dependency.
As tolerance increases, users either consume higher amounts or switch to more potent varieties to achieve the same effects of their initial treatments. Excess marijuana use and higher potencies can make constipation worse for some because it negatively impacts muscle contractions in the gut and suppresses secretions in the colon and gastrointestinal tract.
Due to the lack of mainstream research into the connection between cannabis and bowel function, there’s no definitive verdict on whether smoking weed causes diarrhea. But, there are increasing reports on cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), a rare medical disorder that mostly affects regular users and very rarely impacts novice and occasional users.
CHS develops when marijuana cannabinoids no longer favorably interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the digestive system. Not only does it increase the time it takes for food to leave the stomach, but it also causes the esophageal sphincter to malfunction. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, decreased appetite, dehydration, loose stools, and weight loss. Hot showers and baths may help alleviate symptoms temporarily. The cure is to stop using marijuana altogether.
Before using marijuana to treat your bowel issues, consult with a medical marijuana doctor and inform your regular physician first. While weed is the treatment of choice for millions of people living with various medical disorders and symptoms, it’s important to know the pros and cons of how it can impact your situation.
A certified marijuana doctor can provide recommendations for products, strains, and potencies and help tailor a treatment regimen that not only helps improve your pooping habits and stool consistency but alleviates other symptoms you may be experiencing as well.
When using marijuana for bowel-related conditions, it’s always best to start with a little and allow enough time to pass to see how well you tolerate the effects. Don’t overdo it. Using too much cannabis is likely to cause undesirable effects and lead to a less-than-ideal experience.
To prevent problems when using weed for bowel issues, start with the lowest dosage possible. Experiment with different strains, cannabidiol ratios, and administration methods like smoking, edibles, vaping, topical, concentrates, suppositories, and oils and document the outcome before moving on to higher doses or committing to further use. Keep in mind that some marijuana products contain ingredients or oils that can lead to diarrhea or constipation for some.
If you experience stomach upset, vomiting, abominable pain, diarrhea, appetite loss, or any other signs of discomfort, discontinue use and contact your healthcare provider right away.
The medicinal effects of cannabis are strain, cannabidiol, product type, formulation, and user dependent. Still, the following types of medical marijuana strains are beneficial for most gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea and constipation.
If you’ve noticed changes in your pooping habits, such as going to the bathroom more or less frequently or changes in stool consistency after using weed, chances are there is a connection. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s important to keep track of symptoms and when and how long they occur after your most recent marijuana dose. If the changes are unpleasant, such as you end up with a raging case of diarrhea or experience distress while struggling to pass hard stools, cease all marijuana use immediately and inform your doctor.