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by Bethan Rose
Our bodies have cannabinoid receptors all over due to the endocannabinoid system running throughout the human body. The fact that cannabis cannabinoids are received by our endocannabinoid systems, is the reason why we are able to benefit from the plant in such a large array of manners. Contributing to that list, cannabis can be used to help with the health of your gut.
The endocannabinoid system in our bodies is much like the molecules of the cannabis plant. The system also includes the metabolism and receptors which go throughout our bodies, which effectively regulates many aspects of our functioning. The endocannabinoid system has been proven to play a critical function in the signaling pathways related to health and disease. Now, professionals are turning to cannabis for its benefits in the functioning of our gastrointestinal function.
A 2016 study done by Mr. N DiPatrizio had a look at the endocannabinoids located specifically in the gut and concluded that there are many gaps remaining in understanding but that the endocannabinoids in our gut can regulate functions such as motility, gut-brain-medicated fat intake, hunger signaling, inflammation, gut microbiota and even gut permeability. Before we get into how cannabis can assist with the health and regulation of your gut, let us first have a look at what those functions are.
This function involves the stretching and contractions of the muscles located in the body’s gastrointestinal tract. Guy Motility controls the movement of food located in the digestive tract and when the motility is abnormal, it can lead to all the symptoms commonly associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. These symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, nausea, pain and most commonly, bloating.
This function involves what is known as the Gut-Brain Axis, which is used to describe the communication network which connects the gut to the brain and visa versa. The brain and the gut are connected physically and biochemically and there seems to be a connection between obesity and the axis based on an animal study which suggested that “the obesity-associated microbiota may contribute to the endocrine, neurochemical and inflammatory alterations underlying obesity and its comorbidities.” Gut-Brain-Mediated fat intake refers to the “endocannabinoid signaling within the gut which plays a key role in driving the intake of dietary fat due to its distinguishable taste properties”.
The endocannabinoid system has much to do with your appetite. If a person has a lack of endocannabinoids in their body, they could end up suffering from an unintended eating disorder. When you are hungry, the system sends signals to the part of your brain known as the hypothalamus, which lets your limbic system know that you need to eat and that you are about to-do so.
Inflammation of the gut refers to the body’s process of fighting against harm in your gut. This means that the body is fighting against something in your gastrointestinal tract, the oesophagus, the stomach and the small intestine. Inflammation happens when your body’s white cells try to protect the gut from infection from invaders such as bacteria and viruses.
This term is used to refer to the population of micro-organisms which live in the gut. The intestine contains the body’s largest population of those organisms too. Each persons’ microbiota is unique because it is influenced by factors such as eating habits and medication taken. Health microbiota is important for defensive, nutritive and behavioral functions such as teaching the immune system about which organisms are good and which are bad.
Intestinal permeability refers to the control over materials passing from the gastrointestinal tract trough the cells of the gut wall and then into the rest of the body. This permeability allows nutrients to pass through but if the permeability becomes wider, chances of harmful organisms passing through the body increases.
Referring back to the 2016 study, DiPatrizio explained that “dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system might play a role in intestinal disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, as well as obesity”. Pharmaceutical treatments currently available for individuals struggling with the health of their gut, are laden with side effects. Fortunately, a study published in 2018 but Rose Szabady and her team, became the first to demonstrate the physical process by which cannabis positively interacted with patients suffering from symptoms related to Irritable Bowel Disease. Interestingly enough, Szabady and her team were not looking for that in their research, they just happened to come across it while trying to understand how healthy intestine regulates itself.
Although most of the research available ends with the conclusion that more research is needed, the benefits identified already are reasons enough to consider this as an effective treatment and measure of gut health management. Cannabis has been used for its’ anti-inflammatory and pain reduction properties for decades, with many who have used it for that exact reason signing its’ praise.
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