Digestive Disorders

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Medical Cannabis Treatment for Digestive Disorders

Several types of diagnosable digestive diseases affect the gastrointestinal tract (GI), which consists of small and large intestines, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, liver, and esophagus. The U.S. National Health reports that up to 70 million Americans are affected by the litany of all digestive diseases. They include abdominal wall hernia, chronic constipation, diverticulitis, gallstones, gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastrointestinal infection, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, liver disease, pancreatitis, peptic ulcer disorder, and viral hepatitis.

Many of the digestive disorders share the same symptoms all of which have been alleviated with cannabis-based on a 2017 European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology study, reporting the “review sheds light on the role of cannabis in the gut, liver, and pancreas and also on other GI symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, anorexia, weight loss, and chronic abdominal pain.”

Signs and Symptoms of Digestive Disorders

MedlinePlus points out the signs and symptoms of digestive disorders that co-occur, including bleeding, bloating, heartburn, nausea, weight gain or loss, diarrhea, constipation, and problems swallowing. Among the litany of digestive disorders, U.S. News & World Health report up to eight common conditions including reflux disease, peptic ulcers, gallstones, lactose intolerance, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, and Celiac disease.

Diagnosing digestive disorders are most often found after performing a colonoscopy, upper GI endoscopy, and endoscopic ultrasound, among other tests. While surgery, an intrusive treatment of any digestive disorder could be necessary, less invasive methods to control the conditions include lifestyle changes in diet and exercise, as well as medication.

Digestive Disorders and Medical Cannabis

One of the most compelling studies on medical cannabis and digestive disorders was published in a 2013 edition of the medical journal Inflammatory Bowel Disease, specifically proving the plant properties alleviate more than one condition.

“The prevalence and perceived effectiveness of marijuana use has not been well studied in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) despite increasing legal permission for its use in Crohn’s disease,” according to the study. After the survey, up to 16.4% of patients studied confirmed medical cannabis was “very helpful” for nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Several other studies as far back as 1990 confirm medical cannabis can alleviate specific digestive disorder conditions. In the Annals of Internal Medicine, a person living with 23-year-old ulcerative colitis was studied based on cigarette and cannabis use, showing that “this case suggests marijuana may ameliorate,” the condition. Meanwhile, current news sources further confirm medical cannabis can help all three conditions above. 

With so many GI conditions causing inflammation and chronic pain, the cannabinoids like THC and CBD in medical cannabis that already prove to help certain digestive disorders lends hope to the litany of other conditions.   

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Data Last Updated 06/19/2020

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