Need Relief from IBS Flare-Ups? Medical Marijuana Can Help!

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), also known as spastic colon, affects more than 35 million Americans. [1] Those affected, most commonly women, generally suffer throughout their entire lives, causing many issues and frustrations [6]. Characterized by painful cramping, chronic diarrhea, constipation, and nausea, IBS is the most common of gastrointestinal disorders. While the cause of IBS is unknown, the endocannabinoid system controls the processes of the gastrointestinal tract. It has been known for centuries that cannabis is able to treat the symptoms of IBS as many sufferers report their symptoms to be more manageable if not alleviated by it [1].

According to Florida’s Amendment 2, a wide range of diagnosable conditions may be eligible for a medical marijuana recommendation, including IBS. Find out if you pre-qualify for a Florida medical marijuana recommendation today by completing our online eligibility survey. If you would like to know if medical marijuana is right for you, schedule an exam with one of our Florida marijuana doctors. 

Common Treatments for IBS Can Be Ineffective

Common recommendations for the treatment of IBS include: cooking with fresh ingredients, consuming oatmeal frequently, taking 1 tablespoon of linseeds daily, and avoiding the following: processed, fatty or spicy foods, fruit, coffee, alcohol, foods that are difficult to digest, sorbitol sweetener, and high fiber foods. Since dieting is not for everyone, many IBS patients find it difficult to follow such a strict regimen. Furthermore, changes to diet alone do not always relieve IBS symptoms. Studies are showing that cannabis offers a solution for those needing simple ways to treat IBS. While it doesn’t offer a cure, an increasing number of patients report its positive effects on the body [2].

The Gut-Brain Axis and Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

The gut-brain axis (GBA) is comprised of the back and forth communication between the central and enteric nervous systems, connecting the intestinal functions with the emotional and cerebral parts of the brain. Advances in medical research suggest these interactions are directly affected by the microbiota of the gut. This relationship between the brain and the gut impacts those with IBS [3]. A 2016 review [4] about illnesses which are related to Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency suggests, “GI propulsion, secretion, and inflammation in the gut are all modulated by the ECS, providing a rationale for cannabinoids as treatment candidates for IBS. As examples, GI propulsion is under tonic control of the ECS and cannabis was one of the first effective clinical interventions in the 19th century for the intense secretory diarrhea associated with cholera, a finding which was more recently validated with modern methodology” [5].

The colon of the IBS sufferer is hyper-sensitive, creating spasms when the communication between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain is disrupted. The cannabinoids found in marijuana bind to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system in the intestinal tract to repair the disrupted communication. The most effective of psychoactive cannabinoids in marijuana, THC, provides relief from two of the most common symptoms of IBS, pain and nausea. The most effective of non-psychoactive cannabinoids, CBD, works as an antispasmodic remedy with a very calming effect. 

Working together, THC and CBD provide what is called “the entourage effect” because they work synergistically to increase the natural endocannabinoid “anandamide” present in the gastrointestinal tract. The ultimate effect is reduced pain and fewer spasms beginning with the gut [1]. 

Treating the Psychological Effects of IBS

While marijuana cannot cure IBS, it can relieve both its physical and psychological symptoms. It improves the sense of well-being and mental health to help sufferers cope with anxiety, depression, and frustration. In a survey given to 2,495 patients (including those with IBS), “taking CBD-rich cannabis for at least 30 days, 100% of patients with headaches, migraines, fibromyalgia, IBS, and spinal cord injury “reported a decrease in pain or discomfort.” This led to a significantly improved quality of life for people dealing with IBS” [6].

Is Medical Marijuana Right for Me?

Whether medical marijuana will help your condition depends on many factors best evaluated by a licensed medical doctor. If you feel you may benefit from medical marijuana, the first step is to take our online eligibility survey. In just 5 minutes, you could pre-qualify for a recommendation. A Florida marijuana doctor can then determine if you qualify during an in-person exam. For more information, visit https://docmj.com.

  1. https://www.crescolabs.com/conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome
  2. https://www.marijuanabreak.com/cbd-oil-for-irritable-bowel-syndrome
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4367209/
  4. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/can.2016.0009
  5. https://inhalemd.com/blog/how-marijuana-treats-ibs/
  6. https://hightimes.com/health/can-treat-irritable-bowel-syndrome-cannabis/