Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Characterized by abdominal discomfort and cramping, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal condition that afflicts the large intestine. Most people who have this disorder only experience mild to moderate symptoms. However, symptoms such as abdominal cramping, stomach pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea can still cause discomfort to those with this condition.
Common ways to manage these side effects include adjustments in stress levels, diet and medical marijuana therapy.
Because IBS can cause considerable discomfort and inconvenience in the lives of those with this condition, most patients decide to seek out a treatment plan that helps them successfully manage their symptoms. However, certain drugs can cause adverse effects or withdrawal symptoms over time. Existing research studies support marijuana treatment as an effective and crucial solution to many. Cannabis targets the endocannabinoid system and often produces little to no harmful side effects.
Below, we will examine several case studies that demonstrate how medical marijuana can improve an IBS patient’s quality of life.
At the start of the 21st century, interest in marijuana as a modulator of gastrointestinal disease gained momentum. Researchers wanted to understand what effect cannabis would have on CB1 and CB2 receptors, two crucial components of the endocannabinoid system responsible for ensuring a state of homeostasis.
In a 2006 case study published by D. Ziring et al., researchers worked to understand to what extent deficiencies in specific cells within the endocannabinoid system stimulated inflammatory bowel diseases such as IBS. Because certain B and T cell subsets are responsible for immune and gastrointestinal regulation, any irregularities within these cells could induce inflammation of the abdominal region.
Cannabis helps regulate dysfunctional components of the endocannabinoid system, which is a crucial step in initiating symptom relief in those with inflammatory diseases. In their study, mice deficient in CB2 receptors indicated a higher risk of developing inflammation in the colon. This study concludes that the cannabinoid receptors in marijuana help realign the endocannabinoid system to ensure inflammation is regulated — a crucial process for those experiencing IBS.
Published in the Inflammatory Bowel Dis. in 2013, Ravikoff Allegretti and his colleagues examined a total of 292 patients at an IBS center for a study that would investigate how marijuana could manage IBS symptoms. Because the effectiveness of marijuana on IBD treatment had not been fully studied despite the increase in administration of this drug for those with gastrointestinal disorders, the team of researchers desired a better understanding of the perceived benefits of marijuana in these users.
During their study, patients reported significant improvement in poor appetite management, nausea and appetite. The researchers concluded that alleviation from these symptoms suggest central nervous system mediation stimulated by cannabinoids in cannabis products can bring relief.
This study primarily investigated patients who inhaled or smoked cannabis products. The positive results reported from users who smoked or vaporized products necessitates more investigation into effects of edible marijuana products, as well.
A Canadian study published in the Inflammatory Bowel Dis. in 2014 assessed the extent to which cannabis provided beneficial results to patients with IBS and other stomach discomforts. Because cannabis is known to suppress nausea and other abdominal troubles, it’s crucial to examine what effect CBD and different marijuana varieties have on those with IBS.
An anonymous questionnaire given to patients with IBS who regularly took marijuana were asked to assess to what level this form of medication helped alleviate their symptoms. A majority of the participants, or 83.9% specifically, stated cannabis helped improve abdominal pain. Another 76.8% reported less abdominal cramping, and 28.6% indicated lessened diarrhea.
Because patients with IBS commonly seek marijuana to improve their symptoms, it’s important to understand the effectiveness of this decision. This case study supports the notion that a majority of IBS patients believe cannabis helps alleviate the adverse side effects caused by their gastrointestinal disorder. This study beckons further investigation into the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis on those with IBS.
If you or a loved one are currently dealing with the unwanted symptoms of IBS, it’s essential to reach out to trained health professionals who can help you develop the ideal treatment plan to reduce your side effects.
Take the first step by connecting with a marijuana doctor in your area to receive the guidance and attention you deserve. Once your physician approves your condition, you can access the high-quality cannabis strains you need to improve your health and quality of life.