Updated on January 28, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Acid reflux disease, an irritating condition that can interfere with your enjoyment of foods and beverages, can be potentially curtailed through medical cannabis. Finding relief for the symptoms of acid reflux is often imperative, and fortunately, marijuana may help. Learn more about acid reflux, its symptoms and how medical marijuana can relieve your symptoms.
Marijuana has been found to help significantly with gastrointestinal system disorders such as nausea, poor appetite, and acid reflux, and can be better than many other treatments.
Good health starts in your gut. In pharmacological terms, medical weed acts more like a dietary supplement or food than a drug in how your body absorbs it and uses it.
Cannabinoids found in marijuana are similar to chemical compounds produced by the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). Your ECS regulates various body functions, including your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It also allows you to experience the effects of marijuana.
When you ingest medical pot, the plant’s cannabinoids attach to your ECS cannabinoid receptors, activating them to produce various effects. For instance, your ECS can initiate the feeling of pleasure or hunger. This is a part of the reason why some people who use weed experience an increased appetite.
Your ECS fulfills several roles within your upper GI tract, including:
Your stomach and intestines are home to a vast microbial ecosystem that helps with digesting your food and carrying out other biological activities. Researchers are now working on proving the microbiome, as well as the ECS within the body, may make neurological connections easier as well.
Since you have many CB1 and CB2 receptors in your gut, your digestive system naturally attracts endocannabinoids.
Cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) enter your body through receptors in your gut and send signals to your brain to begin regulating your systems differently while also acting as an anti-inflammatory.
A few studies show the effect cannabinoids have on the GI tract and acid reflux. One study showed a reduction of transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations (TLESRs) in individuals otherwise healthy who took THC. The THC decreased episodes of acid reflux.
Medical marijuana is a safer alternative than antacids for combating the symptoms of acid reflux and has many properties that can relieve pain and improve acid reflux. Many individuals don’t realize there can be harmful consequences of taking antacids long-term.
There are anti-inflammatory properties in CBD which make it a useful treatment in individuals with acid reflux. It also helps tackle nausea, another common symptom of acid reflux.
The symptoms of acid reflux that marijuana can help treat include:
Medical weed is well-known for being a pain reliever and has been found effective in treating severe abdominal pain. Chronic acid reflux causes a burning, painful sensation in your chest and upper stomach and frequently into your throat. Stomach discomfort can impact your life negatively. It can easily lead to difficulty enjoying social activities, lost sleep and difficulties eating and drinking.
Most individuals with acid reflux have either regurgitation or heartburn and feel as though things are coming back up into their throat. However, a small percentage of individuals with acid reflux can also experience the same “epigastric” pain that individuals with ulcers experience.
Strains for upper abdominal discomfort that may help include:
Chronic, severe nausea can lead to poor quality of life. For years, researchers have studied cannabinoids and their effects on nausea. One study conducted in 1975 found certain types of THC can alleviate nausea. Patients receiving chemotherapy took THC or a placebo over a few chemo courses. During most of the courses, all 20 patients found nausea relief after using certain types of THC but didn’t find relief with any of the placebo courses. The researchers also took note CBD has potential as an antiemetic and could tackle nausea and vomiting as well.
You can try these strains to address any nausea you may be experiencing:
The Journal of the American Medical Association published research suggesting that in acid reflux, acid isn’t what directly causes esophagus damage. Instead, the secretion of cytokines, a type of proteins, creates an inflammatory response inside the esophagus, and that inflammation causes the damage.
Marijuana also offers anti-inflammatory properties helping to reduce stomach inflammation.
Strains for inflammation include:
Medical pot might address factors that exacerbate or trigger symptoms of acid reflux like stress and anxiety. Taking medical cannabis as recommended by a cannabis doctor can help you feel less worried and overwhelmed. Because of this, you may experience fewer stress- and anxiety-related ailments like stomach pain and nausea.
Some research shows mental health affects GI health. For instance, studies of individuals with gastric fistulas have found anger increases acids in the stomach.
Strains for stress and anxiety include:
Like most medicines, cannabis might cause side effects. You can determine the right levels of CBD or THC for your acid reflux and the best consumption method by speaking with a cannabis doctor. By doing this, you’ll reduce your chances of experiencing adverse side effects.
Some individuals don’t experience any side effects, while others might have one or more side effects depending on their experience, marijuana strain, and dose. Cannabis could potentially cause side effects such as:
Along with picking out the best strain, you’ll also want to decide on the best method of delivery for your treatment. Each delivery method will create a different effect, and you should do some experimenting to find the method that works best for you and your symptoms.
Some common methods of consumption include:
Acid reflux is a condition in which stomach acids flow backward into the esophagus. If you have acid reflux, you may often experience the taste of regurgitated food or sour liquid along with a burning sensation in your chest. Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) fails to close immediately after food passes. The open LES allows the backflow to occur.
Around 20 percent of individuals in the U.S. suffer from acid reflux, and between the years 1998 and 2005 alone, there was a 216 percent increase in the number of people hospitalized for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a specific kind of acid reflux. If you experience acid reflux two or more times per week consistently, you may have GERD.
The primary cause of acid reflux is the LES remaining open so that the acids from the stomach can flow backward into the esophagus. However, there are risk factors that increase the likelihood of this, including:
Heartburn is the leading symptom of acid reflux. It is characterized by a burning sensation originating near your breastbone and radiating upward toward your throat. If acid reflux is allowed to continue and become GERD, you may experience other unpleasant symptoms, including:
Consider over-the-counter treatments or lifestyle changes for mild, occasional bouts of acid reflux. If it becomes more intense or more persistent, consider consulting with your physician about treatment options.
It’s best to address acid reflux early and to make changes so you can reduce your risks and avoid some of the more severe potential complications. The most significant complication of acid reflux is allowing it to remain a problem for you without seeking treatment until you have GERD, which can lead to these complications:
Many treatment options for acid reflux are available on the market today. The most effective treatments involve a combination of lifestyle changes for preventive measures combined with over-the-counter medications to treat the immediate symptoms or to add another layer of preventive protection.
1. Lifestyle changes: Changing the foods you eat daily is an essential first step toward reducing your exposure to the pain and inconvenience of acid reflux. In addition to the food you eat, also consider changing the way you eat food. Instead of eating three large meals, eat five smaller ones with the last one being the smallest of the day and well over an hour before going to bed. Add exercise into your daily routine and stop smoking immediately.
2. Antacids: Antacids provide fast-acting relief for heartburn pain and burning. You can carry them around with you if you need them frequently during the day and even keep them on your bedside table for easy access at night. In addition to popular name brands, most pharmacies and major retailers stock off-brands of antacids as well.
3. H-2 receptor blockers: These are preventive medications that target the histamine receptors in the stomach to reduce the amount of stomach acid you produce.
4. Proton pump inhibitors: Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are preventive treatments that reduce the production of acid by blocking certain enzymes in the stomach wall.
For more information on medical marijuana treatment for acid reflux, you can visit our vast resource section. Here you can obtain all the information you need on medical cannabis and related products. We can also connect you with a qualified cannabis doctor and offer an extensive list of dispensaries in your area.
Once you’ve consulted with the cannabis doctor, they can give you a recommendation for medical marijuana. They’ll also be there to answer any questions and to help you explore different medical pot options.
Our goal at MarijuanaDoctors.com is to ensure you have all the information and resources you need to make a well-informed decision as far as what treatments and options are available. By being “in the know,” you’ll be more confident about medical cannabis treatments and can see for yourself how well it works for your acid reflux. Book your appointment today.