Irritable bowel syndrome (more commonly known as IBS) is an uncomfortable condition that affects as many as 45 million Americans. Unlike inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which describes a group of disorders that doctors can see during diagnostic imaging, IBS shows no visual signs of abnormalities within the body. There is no cure for IBS, but there are treatments that can make your symptoms more manageable. In this article, we’ll discuss cannabis for IBS, and if cannabis products may offer you a solution for your discomfort.
Causes of IBS
The exact causes of IBS aren’t well understood. Many medical researchers believe that the syndrome itself occurs when there’s a disturbance between the brain and your digestive system. Individuals with IBS often have irregular mobility patterns in their colons, which leads to irregular or overactive muscle contractions.
While the exact causes aren’t known, what we do know is that individuals with IBS often have triggers that aggravate their symptoms. Common triggers include:
- Certain types of foods
- Certain medications
- Hormonal changes such as those that occur during menstruation
Symptoms to Watch For
When a stimulus triggers your IBS, the muscles in your colon begin spasming irregularly. As a result, you could find yourself facing constipation or diarrhea. Other symptoms to watch for include:
- Chronic abdominal pain
- Mucus in your stools
The problem with IBS is that it can’t be diagnosed like IBD. Tests like an endoscopy, X-rays, and pathological testing can help to rule out other issues, though. Generally, going over your symptoms and ruling out other potential problems can help your doctor to diagnose the condition.
How Cannabis Can Help Treat IBS Symptoms
In many cases, people manage their IBS symptoms by avoiding their triggers. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to help. There is no one IBS medication, though.
Many people with IBS also find relief with cannabis. The gastrointestinal tract, much like many other systems in your body, is controlled by your endocannabinoid system. If the system is out of balance, this can lead to a variety of issues, including IBS. The cannabinoids in the plant can help to restore homeostasis to your endocannabinoid system, thereby assisting in alleviating your IBS symptoms.
Some research supports the claims that cannabis can help those with IBS. One study in 2005 confirms the above idea that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in the health and functioning of your digestive system. A very recent review of clinical studies published in the Journal of Gastroenterology found that many IBS-related symptoms all improved with the help of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids. Various other studies demonstrate cannabis’ ability to alleviate chronic pain, which is often associated with IBS. These findings help to support that cannabis may be an effective alternative therapy for managing IBS symptoms and helping you to feel better.
Cannabis might not be able to eliminate your IBS, but it can help to manage your symptoms. With your discomfort under control, you can live a happier, healthier, more normal life.