Cannabis users report that it can improve their digestion. The entire digestive system is one huge soft muscular system. Its rhythms move food through its different phases to nourish the body. Researchers believe cannabinoids can agitate or calm those rhythms, but the facts can dispel rumors.
A brief guide to the digestion system
The human Digestive System must break down foods so the body can absorb the nutrients and expel the waste. The mouth takes in the food, and the bladder and rectum release the waste. In between, a complicated system processes the intake through several phases, glands, organs, and approximately 30 feet of “tubing.”
Cephalic Phase: The process starts when you see and smell food. This triggers the release of gastric juices, enzymes that will deconstruct the intake. The mouth generates saliva to soften the food as the teeth grind and segment the matter to move comfortably through the esophagus.
Gastric Phase: As the food enters the stomach, gastric acids reduce it further until it moves into the small intestine (duodenum).
Intestinal Phase: In the duodenum, food mixes with enzymes generated by the pancreas. The food values absorb into the lymphatic system as it passes through the small intestine. The remaining water and minerals return to the blood system as the remaining substances move through the large intestine (colon) before the waste expels as urine and feces.
The process involves other mechanisms specific to the tongue, liver, kidneys, and more. It includes blood, oxygen, and multiple bio-chemicals. However, our interest focuses on peristalsis.
Peristalsis, a normal involuntary muscular movement, moves masticated food through the digestive tract (alimentary canal). It makes the soft muscle of the intestines pulsate rhythmically. We have no sense of the peristalsis doing its thing when we are healthy. However, if we suffer from heartburn, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, diarrhea, or nausea and vomiting, peristalsis makes itself well known. Just think, “dry heaves!” The question here is whether and how cannabis can enhance gut health and help digestion.
Does cannabis help?
The science is out on this. Researchers are increasingly interested in the effects of cannabis consumption on the digestive system. However, their results take different paths:
Hyperemesis Syndrome: Cannabis has contributed to Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) in some chronic users. CHS may cause abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Medical Marijuana: Some people find therapeutic value in medical marijuana for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Chron’s Disease, and ulcerative colitis. Many people seek help when other therapies fail, and their doctors have integrated medical marijuana into their treatment strategy.
Post-chemotherapy Nausea: Cannabis has become a therapy-of-choice for patients suffering from nausea and vomiting following their chemotherapy sessions.
How does cannabis work?
We don’t know how cannabis works on the digestive system. The THC content may relieve stress as a contributing factor, and the CBD may relax anatomical systems overall. More than researchers have yet to confirm.
It would appear the causality is indirect. That is, combinations of THC and CBD with other cannabinoids improve health by reestablishing neural transmission to block pain messages effectively. Cannabinoids map over to the human Endocannabinoid System (ECS) to influence the bowel’s motility, the pace of muscular contraction and relaxation. As the motility stabilizes, symptoms of diarrhea, bowel cramps, and vomiting subside. The “munchies” that follow cannabis use indicate a connection between cannabis use, appetite, and hunger. Doctors often recommend its use as a therapy for anorexia.
Nonetheless, because cannabis does not affect any two people the same, there are some cautions.
Smoking cannabis introduces carbon toxins into the mouth, where they mix with the saliva we swallow.
People with liver, kidney, or pancreatic health conditions risk irritation and damage.
Cannabis can induce stress, anxiety, and depression in some users. Those conditions may affect appetite loss.
So, several pictures emerge. The positive path suggests moderate cannabis use can modulate digestive system functions and provide a robust therapy for some people with digestive or bowel conditions that fail to respond to routine pharmaceutical remedies. Conversely, chronic cannabis use can trigger a syndrome manifest as severe digestive symptoms.
5 popular cannabis strains for digestive problems
Strain: Sativa-dominant Hybrid with 15% to 25% THC
Genetics: Inbred Skunk #1
Results: High potency triggers euphoric mood and energy charge to reduce or eliminate the stressors contributing to digestive problems.
Strain: Sativa-dominant hybrid with 17% to 24% THC and 2% CBD
Genetics: Blueberry crossed with Haze
Results: The strong CBD presence levels the soaring cerebral high with a pain-free mellow relaxation. The incredible flavor satisfies hunger and reduces the conditions contributing to nausea and vomiting.
Strain: Balanced hybrid with 15% to 21% THC
Genetics: OG Kush bred with Trainwreck
Results: The sweet candy taste masks a creeping euphoria before you surrender to its powerful, full-bodied buzz. This hybrid leaves you couch locked and unaware of digestive issues.
Strain: Balanced hybrid with 19% THC
Genetics: OG Kush crossed with God’s Gift
Results: Significantly potent at 19% THC, Church OG will leave you happy, lazy, and free of anxiety and pain. Users report long-lasting effects, including improved appetite.
Strain: Sativa-dominant hybrid with 22% to 26% THC
Genetics: Erdbeer sativa crossed with an unknown Indica
Results: The delicious strawberry elements hit the head high and hard to relieve layers of anxiety and stress throughout the day without fatigue and couchlock.
We could expand this list with strains that follow this pattern of sativa dominance, high THC content, and full flavor. The emphasis remains on strains that produce a significant and lasting cerebral high that still allows hours of clarity and focus. Researchers do advise that people who suffer from medically confirmed digestive conditions should not use cannabis without consulting their physician.