Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
The marijuana compound cannabidiol (CBD) can treat numerous symptoms, including gastrointestinal issues. Find out how this cannabinoid can help patients with diverticulitis.
Many people form small pouches in their intestines called diverticula. Diverticula do not cause harm on their own, but they can get infected. When you have an infection in your diverticula, you have diverticulitis, which causes uncomfortable symptoms.
Diverticulitis can have a fast or slow onset of symptoms. The infection causes pain in the lower-left abdomen for many patients. A patient with diverticulitis can also experience diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, nausea or fever. Patients who have chronic diverticulitis sometimes have mental health symptoms because of the added stress that comes with the condition.
The severity of diverticulitis varies by case. When you have mild diverticulitis, you may need antibiotics, a liquid diet and over-the-counter painkillers. Complicated diverticulitis can cause colon damage and needs professional care. You can use CBD to relieve some of the symptoms of any degree of the condition.
Just as we have a digestive system, we have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). This network of receptors and cells aids in functions all over our bodies. The ECS creates and processes cannabinoids, the compound found in cannabis. Its CB1 and CB2 receptors bind to cannabinoids to help other systems regulate themselves. CB1 and CB2 receptors appear in the gut, making cannabinoids a powerful tool in treating digestive issues.
CB1 receptors manage the connection between the gut and brain. These two parts of the body communicate with one another through the vagus nerve, which has plenty of CB1 receptors that respond to cannabinoids such as anandamide. Cannabis medicine activates these receptors, sending benefits to your gut and brain. Conditions like diverticulitis can impact your body’s need for cannabinoids in the vagus nerve and gut.
The ECS also has a role to play in immune response. It manages the levels of pro-inflammatory cells in irritated and infected tissue. Certain cannabinoids can reduce inflammation and relieve the resulting symptoms.
CBD reduces pain and inflammation to relieve the symptoms of diverticulitis. Instead of attaching to receptors like most cannabinoids, CBD boosts other parts of the system. It blocks FAAH, a fatty acid that breaks down the endocannabinoid anandamide. The ECS creates anandamide to regulate mood and the pain response.
When CBD blocks FAAH, your body can increase its anandamide levels. The higher amount of anandamide reduces the amount of pro-inflammatory cells in your immune system. When it reaches your diverticula, it attaches to the receptors on them to mitigate their immune response. While scientists don’t understand the full reason, CBD also decreases bowel motility, relieving diarrhea symptoms.
Some cases of diverticulitis develop as a side effect of painkillers. If you have recurring cases of diverticulitis caused by your medication, CBD can help. CBD can act as a supplement or replacement for painkillers that cause diverticulitis. Since it reduces inflammation, it also addresses the pain caused by the inflammatory response. The anandamide preserved by CBD regulates pain signals, lowering their severity.
Patients have a wide selection of CBD products to try. Online and brick-and-mortar stores sell CBD oil all over the United States. If you decide to buy CBD oil, remember to check the product label and research the seller. CBD oil comes in various concentrations, and some of them offer more relief than others. You can also join your state’s medical marijuana program or visit a recreational dispensary. Registered patients and adults over 21 can find CBD medication at many of these providers.
When searching for a CBD product, medicines that travel through your intestine will provide the most relief. Suppositories disperse the medication through your bowels without passing through other parts of the body, so you can use the CBD right where you need it. Ingested medicine also works for digestive issues. Edibles, pills and tinctures will go through your stomach first, making them ideal for preventing nausea.
A doctor with medical marijuana training can guide your decision-making process. They will help you get a medicinal cannabis card if you need it. Even if you don’t plan on becoming a registered patient, they will understand how CBD can relieve your symptoms. Find doctors in your area using our physician directory.
Ready to learn more about cannabis medicine? Read more about cannabis in our numerous ailment pages.
Learn more about Diverticulitis and what makes medical marijuana an effective treatment for Diverticulitis’s symptoms.