marijuana and dyspepsia
Have you ever felt bloated after eating a meal, even if it wasn’t big? Or have you ever eaten something that did not wholly agree with you? You might recall a time in your life when you’ve experienced dyspepsia, commonly called indigestion. It’s possible you experience dyspepsia regularly and do not know why or how to manage it. In this article, we will explore the causes of dyspepsia and available treatments. We’ll also look at medical marijuana and how it might be an effective treatment for patients who experience frequent indigestion.

What Is Dyspepsia?

Dyspepsia has a couple of different names, such as indigestion or upset stomach. It is very common and affects about one in four Americans every year. It may only happen once in a while, or it can persist for months. Sometimes, it’s difficult to determine a specific cause, which can be frustrating for patients who want indigestion to stop.

What Are the Symptoms of Dyspepsia?

Dyspepsia is not a disease. Instead, it is a term to describe a range of gastrointestinal symptoms, including:

  • Burning, painful feeling or discomfort in the upper abdomen
  • Feeling full too soon while eating
  • Feel overly full after eating a meal
  • Belching
  • Burping up food
  • Acidic taste or burping up liquid
  • Noisy gurgling or growling in the stomach
  • Nausea
  • Gas

Individuals with indigestion may also experience heartburn, but heartburn and indigestion are not the same.

What Causes Dyspepsia?

There are many possible causes of dyspepsia, such as swallowing too much air. Other times, the source remains unknown.

what causes dyspepsia

A few common causes include:

  • Drinking too much alcohol, carbonated beverages or caffeine
  • Eating too fast during a meal
  • Overeating
  • Consuming greasy or spicy foods
  • Eating highly acidic foods like tomatoes or oranges
  • Experiencing stress
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Taking specific medication such as antibiotics or pain relievers

Sometimes dyspepsia is a sign of a more severe condition. The following conditions can cause dyspepsia:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Ulcers
  • Gastritis
  • Gastroparesis
  • Infection
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Peptic ulcer disease
  • Stomach cancer
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Thyroid disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Celiac disease
  • Constipation
  • Intestinal blockage

Complications and When to Call a Doctor

Many times, dyspepsia does not have any complications. However, it can make life less enjoyable. With that said, because dyspepsia can be a sign of a serious condition, you’ll want to look out for certain symptoms. If you experience any of the following, call your doctor:

  • Vomiting or vomiting blood
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Black or tarry stools
  • Blood in stools
  • Pain in the upper or lower right abdomen
  • Pain unrelated to eating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain when swallowing

Conventional Treatment for Dyspepsia

If you go to your doctor to treat indigestion, they will likely suggest you do the following:

  • Eat small meals
  • Eat slowly
  • Avoid highly acidic foods
  • Reduce or avoid caffeine
  • Manage stress
  • Quit smoking tobacco
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing
  • Wait an hour after eating before exercising
  • Don’t lie down after eating
  • Wait at least three hours to go to bed after eating
  • Sleep with your head elevated
  • Take antacids

The right treatment mainly depends on the cause of your dyspepsia. For example, if a bacterium like Helicobacter pylori causes your indigestion, your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic such as amoxicillin. If you have heartburn with your indigestion, they might prescribe an acid reducer like Zantac or a proton pump inhibitor such as Prevacid. Lastly, your doctor might prescribe a prokinetic to help your stomach empty faster.

Treatment Side Effects

Depending on the medication your doctor prescribes, you may experience specific side effects.

treatment side effects

Antacids like Tums may cause the following side effects:

  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Belching
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Metallic taste

Medications that decrease stomach acid production like Zantac may cause:

  • A headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Constipation

Prokinetics such as Urecholine may cause:

  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating

Medical Marijuana for Dyspepsia

Marijuana can help treat a wide array of conditions, including those that cause indigestion, such as stress, IBS, anxiety or depression. Patients who suffer from dyspepsia due to opioid use may also benefit from medical marijuana treatment. Here are a few reasons to consider medical cannabis for quick, natural relief.

1. Activating Cannabinoid Receptors Helps Stomach Pain

According to an article published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, marijuana is beneficial for stomach pain and discomfort. That is because cannabis activates cannabinoid receptors in the gut and alters gastrointestinal (GI) motility and secretion. Motility refers to the movements of the digestive tract. When the GI tract does not function properly, it can cause motility issues leading to disorders such as GERD, IBS or gastroparesis – all possible causes of indigestion. Also, cannabis is clinically recognized as preventing or relieving nausea. With this knowledge, scientists can develop cannabis medicine that specifically targets cannabinoids in the GI tract to treat a wide variety of stomach issues.

Cannabis stomach medicine is nothing new. Doctors have been using cannabis to treat stomach ailments for centuries. For example, Galen, a doctor in the Roman Empire, probably used cannabis to treat stomach pain and gas. Li Shih-Chen, a scholar and pharmacologist, first used marijuana as a treatment for nausea in 1578. In the 19th century, it was a common remedy in India, and in the early 20th century, physicians mixed it with morphine as a stomach medicine in America. However, American drug laws restricted research for most of the 20th century, until states began passing new marijuana laws in recent years.

2. Marijuana Relaxes Patients

Individuals who experience a lot of stress, or who struggle to manage stress, may experience dyspepsia more than those who are not as tense. According to the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, many studies show stress impacts the GI system. For example, researchers found stress, anxiety and a negative outlook increase the chance that patients with gastroenteritis will develop IBS.

Also, patients with GERD and anxiety notice worsening symptoms during stressful events. Some evidence shows continuous stress causes inflammation in the lining of the stomach, which can cause stomach pain and dyspepsia. Stress also increases movement in the gut and fluid secretion, which can lead to a range of symptoms from diarrhea to discomfort. Lastly, stress may lead individuals to overeat or drink too much alcohol – both which can cause dyspepsia.

Medical marijuana helps patients unwind when stress becomes overwhelming. For many patients, cannabis is a great way to take time out, recharge and even have a good laugh – all natural, healthy ways to relieve stress. With that said, patients must realize that for cannabis to work as a stress reliever, they must take an appropriate dose. As researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago found, though low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) reduce stress, too much THC can increase stress and anxiety.

3. Marijuana Helps With Mental Health Problems

Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression may cause dyspepsia. Marijuana might help patients enjoy better mental health, which in turn could improve dyspepsia symptoms.

mental health problems

According to a researcher at the University of Washington, the two main chemical ingredients in cannabis, THC, and cannabidiol (CBD), both play different roles when it comes to anxiety. Lower levels of THC seem to reduce anxiety, while high levels increase it. On the contrary, pure CBD appears to decrease anxiety in all doses. Overall, many people report using marijuana to treat anxiety. Speaking with a certified cannabis doctor will help you determine the right amount of THC and CBD for your needs.

Likewise, cannabis may help stabilize mood by restoring normal endocannabinoid function, thus relieving depression. According to scientists at the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, marijuana may be effective at reducing depression resulting from chronic stress.

4. Marijuana Can Replace Conventional Painkillers

If you experience pain for any reason, whether it is from a chronic condition or temporary illness, your first reaction might be to reach for an over-the-counter medication like aspirin or ibuprofen. However, if you also commonly experience indigestion, it might be better to avoid pain medications and use medical marijuana for pain relief instead.

Common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen might impact stomach health. NSAIDs can cause minor complications such as indigestion or stomach discomfort, as well as more severe issues like stomach bleeding. Some NSAIDs even increase the risk of a heart attack.

Prescription painkillers can also be problematic regarding dyspepsia because constipation is a common side effect of opioid use, and constipation can cause dyspepsia. Around 90 percent of individuals who use opioids, even if they only take these drugs once, experience constipation as a result.

People have used cannabis around the world for centuries as a pain reliever. Several clinical trials provide evidence that cannabis is effective for pain. However, it will require more research to confirm the best dose of marijuana for pain relief.

5. Marijuana Treats Conditions That Cause Dyspepsia

Medical marijuana can successfully treat a wide range of conditions associated with dyspepsia. For example, patients with stomach cancer who experience dyspepsia may benefit from marijuana therapy because cannabinoids have been shown to inhibit tumor cell growth.

Also, cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties. Many conditions that cause dyspepsia also cause inflammation. For example, gastritis, which is inflammation of the stomach lining, causes indigestion symptoms such as stomach pain and nausea. Marijuana may help reduce gastric inflammation, providing dyspepsia relief. Lastly, multiple preclinical studies show cannabis protects the stomach lining from damage.

Medical Marijuana and Dyspepsia Symptoms

Individuals experiencing dyspepsia might find cannabis relieves a variety of their symptoms, including:

  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Discomfort
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stress

dyspepsia symptoms

Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Dyspepsia

The type of strain you choose for your relief depends on several different factors. You’ll need to consider the time of day you feel most comfortable consuming marijuana and think about the effects you want to feel. For example, if you do not wish to experience psychoactive effects, but still want relaxing pain relief, you might consider a product with high CBD levels. Here some strains that may help relieve indigestion.

  • Relaxing strains: If stress causes dyspepsia, try Hindu Kush or Granddaddy Purple. These strains also work well to induce sleepiness.
  • Strains for nausea and vomiting: Many different cannabis strains relieve nausea. To name a few, try Sour Diesel, Chocolope or Lavender.
  • Strains to stimulate appetite: If dyspepsia has decreased your appetite, consider Goo, Monster Cookies, Maui Bubble Gift or Sonoma Coma to stimulate hunger.
  • Strains for depression: If stress is causing depression and indigestion, try uplifting and energizing Sativa strains like Blue Dream. Pineapple Dream and Harlequin are also excellent strains to relieve depression.
  • Pain-relieving strains: If you are looking to relieve stomach pain resulting from dyspepsia, Afghan Kush, ACDC, Blue Dream, Granddaddy Purple, and Girl Scout Cookies are all effective pain relievers.

Best Methods of Medical Marijuana Treatment

There are several ways to consume medical marijuana, each of which has disadvantages and advantages. It’s up to you which method to choose and what you feel comfortable with. Here are common ways to consume medical cannabis.

  • Smoking: Smoking cannabis provides fast relief, but the effects do not last as long as other methods. Smoking may be ideal for patients who feel comfortable smoking and want almost instant pain relief. However, smoking might irritate the lungs and throat, so this may not be the healthiest option for some patients.
  • Vaping: Vaping marijuana is similar to smoking, except it doesn’t involve heating the cannabis directly with a flame. It leads to a smooth smoke that is less irritating than regular smoke. Vaping is a safer method than smoking for patients who want to relieve their symptoms quickly.
  • Edibles: Patients might choose to consume cannabis-infused foods, beverages or candy. Edibles take longer to kick in, but the effects can last for hours. However, individuals with dyspepsia may want to avoid certain edibles, such as fatty or chocolate foods, as these can further irritate their stomach.
  • Tinctures: Users can add tinctures extracted from the cannabis plant to food or drinks. Patients can also take a tincture directly under the tongue, so it enters the bloodstream quickly and relieves symptoms fast. Tinctures might be the ideal method for individuals who want fast relief, but who do not want to smoke or vape marijuana.
  • Capsules: Medical cannabis is also is also available in pill form. Cannabis capsules allow doctors or dispensaries to recommend a precise dose, and they are easy to take. They may be good for patients who prefer conventional methods of medication administration or who do not have experience with other methods.

Potential Side Effects of Medical Marijuana

Before taking medical cannabis for dyspepsia, it is essential to consider the possible side effects. Medical marijuana specialists recommend starting slow and small with cannabis to avoid or reduce side effects.

potential side effects

Cannabis side effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Thirst
  • Red eyes
  • Hunger
  • Insomnia
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Urinary retention
  • Dependency

Find a Doctor or Dispensary Today

Although dyspepsia is usually not something to worry about, it can be a sign of a serious underlying condition. It certainly can make life less comfortable. If you frequently experience indigestion, you might feel afraid to eat certain foods. If symptoms are severe enough, you may even resist going out in public. Medical marijuana can potentially help you cope with dyspepsia, and it may even treat the underlying cause.

If you would like to learn more about medical cannabis and how it can help you feel healthier and happier, MarijuanaDoctors.com is here to help. We acknowledge people have been using cannabis to heal a range of illnesses for thousands of years, but the medical community is only recently taking it seriously. We also know the process of obtaining a medical marijuana card and finding a certified doctor can be confusing, especially since laws vary between each state. We designed our site to help patients navigate the world of medical marijuana and connect with reliable doctors and dispensaries. Register today and find a qualified doctor near you, or sign up for our monthly newsletter to stay on top of the latest medical cannabis news and research.

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  1. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/indigestion-dyspepsia/definition-facts
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601032.html
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1574910/
  4. http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2015/02/004.html