More Research, More Discovery, More Relief
In order to reduce symptoms, many patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) turn to cannabis during a flare-up. The cases in which people have been able to significantly increase their quality of life through the use of natural medicine, such as marijuana and cannabinoids, are extensive and warrant thorough research into all the ways cannabinoids can benefit humanity.
With IBS, there has been some promising research regarding cannabinoids as a therapeutic option, and it is suspected that industrial hemp-derived cannabinoids may actually be a solution for controlling flare-ups.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
IBS is a chronic condition that results in extreme distress to the gastrointestinal system. Unlike irritable bowel disease, it does not involve changes to the tissues in the gastrointestinal tract. However, it causes numerous symptoms that can negatively impact the patient’s quality of life. Some of these symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Mucus in the stool
- Rectal bleeding
It is believed that irritable bowel syndrome is associated with some psychiatric illnesses, though this has not fully been established. Studies have shown a link between irritable bowel syndrome and mental health issues such as:
Interestingly, current microbiome research is focusing on the correlation between various psychiatric ailments and irritable bowel syndrome. Research conducted over the past decade has shown that microbiome disruption can trigger severe psychiatric distress as well as gastrointestinal illness. Evidence suggests that there is a link between the endocannabinoid system and the microbiome in the body. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the biological network with which cannabinoids interact inside the body.
Is IBS a Result of Endocannabinoid Deficiency?
Cannabinoids may help treat IBS by alleviating many of the associated symptoms. Researchers have found that industrial hemp-derived cannabinoids do help to improve the quality of life in IBS patients. According to Ethan Russo, MD, a neurologist, and medical researcher, irritable bowel syndrome may be caused by endocannabinoid deficiency. Endocannabinoids are produced naturally by the body. According to Russo,
“If you don’t have enough endocannabinoids, you would have pain where there shouldn’t be pain. You would be sick, meaning nauseated. You would have a lowered seizure threshold. And just a whole litany of other problems.”
Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids and IBS Relief
Even though solid research on industrial hemp-derived cannabinoids is still lacking, there are several recognized ways that cannabis can improve the quality of life of patients with IBS.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that it even helps some patients achieve remission. Additionally, it reduces abdominal pain, diarrhea symptoms, and nausea—all associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
Cannabinol (CBN) also plays a role. Research has shown that this lesser-known cannabinoid provides numerous therapeutic benefits. Cannabinol is a product of degradation. Exposure of THC to heat and oxygen causes it to degrade to CBN which has a mild psychoactive effect. Evidence has shown that the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effect of cannabinol gives it an edge over IBS. Studies have shown that cannabinol reduces sensitivity to pain by causing the release of calcitonin gene-related peptide from sensory nerves. Surprisingly, this relief response occurs without its interaction with either of the receptors of the endocannabinoid system (CB1 and CB2). The implication here is that CBN may be more effective at pain relief when used with CBD, which inhibits pain through the activation of both receptors of the endocannabinoid system. CBN also has anti-inflammatory properties that help it fight IBS and Crohn’s disease.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is another overlooked cannabinoid that plays vital roles in relief of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Basically, it has an anti-inflammatory effect. In mice, it exhibits its anti-inflammatory properties in the gastrointestinal tract, indicating that it may be effective in the treatment of IBS. Its anti-inflammatory properties are not a result of interaction with cannabinoid receptors, indicating that CBC may be combined with cannabinoid receptor stimulants to produce even more potent anti-inflammatory effects.
Time to End Trial and Error
Patients who suffer from IBS treat their symptoms with various forms of natural medicinal marijuana and cannabis products. They do so because it offers them relief, controls flare-ups, and increases their quality of life.
The number of legislators, scientists, health care professionals, farmers and patients that support industrial hemp-derived cannabinoids is rapidly increasing. Finally, a majority is beginning to understand that cannabis, and specifically industrial hemp, has a wealth of benefits to offer humanity. We need to continue to educate the population and to strive to discover through research and safe, standardized regulation how best to make cannabinoids widely-known and available to those whose lives would benefit greatly from their therapeutic effects.
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