Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common digestive-related disorders around the world. In fact, recent estimates suggest at least 11% of people have some degree of IBS. Whether people experience constipation or diarrhea, IBS can dramatically impact a patient’s daily life. Often, people who struggle with IBS will second-guess leaving their homes, which could lead to other issues such as anxiety and depression.
To date, doctors still don’t fully understand how to treat IBS. However, many marijuana advocates believe cannabis could relieve common IBS symptoms. While the data on using marijuana for IBS is ongoing, many anecdotal reports suggest cannabis may play a role in managing this digestive disorder.
What’s The Evidence On Using Marijuana For IBS?
Studies on using medical marijuana for IBS aren’t as robust as for disorders like epilepsy. However, now that cannabinoids like CBD and THC are more accessible, more scientists are interested in how weed could affect digestive disorders.
One reason researchers are most curious about weed’s relationship to IBS is the abundance of cannabinoid receptors in the gut. Recent reports show a high percentage of CB2 receptor sites in the human intestines. Since these receptors interact with cannabinoids, cannabis may naturally decrease inflammation in the gut.
There’s also strong evidence of a connection between gut and brain health (aka the “gut-brain axis”). Therefore, reducing inflammation or pain in the gut may have a significant impact on mood. Conversely, cannabinoids that can calm the mind may help relieve the severity of IBS symptoms.
Anecdotally, there’s emerging evidence that IBS patients who use cannabis tend to have less severe abdominal pain versus those who don’t use weed. Research out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital tracked IBS patients admitted for IBS-related issues. Most people who used cannabis for IBS said this drug helps with pain management. Another study from John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County discovered IBS patients who used cannabis spent less time and money in formal hospital care than those who’ve never used cannabis.
How Should Patients Use Medical Marijuana For IBS?
Although research into using marijuana for IBS is promising, patients must remember that cannabis remains an experimental therapy. Anyone interested in using marijuana for IBS treatment should work with a qualified MMJ doctor. Thankfully, as more states legalize medical marijuana, it’s getting easier to find physicians with experience prescribing weed strains. The best way to safely try cannabis for conditions like IBS is to speak with an experienced MMJ doctor and to follow their dosage recommendations.
For those who don’t live in states with legal MMJ laws, it’s possible to try hemp-derived products like CBD oil. Since CBD is non-psychoactive, it doesn’t carry the risk of paranoia often associated with THC strains. Also, CBD is legal under US federal law, which makes it more easily accessible throughout the nation. Remember that CBD can interact with many IBS-related prescriptions, such as immunosuppressants. Anyone thinking about using CBD oil for IBS needs to speak with their doctor to ensure there won’t be any significant side effects.