Scientific evidence: Cannabis and IBS

Although the exact cause of IBS remains unknown, it is known that, like many physiological processes, the gastrointestinal tract is controlled by the body’s endocannabinoid system. Experts report that the colon muscle of an IBS sufferer is overly sensitive, causing it to spasm after even the most mild stimulation because of a disruption in the communication pathway between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract. Cannabis provides significant medical efficacy in the treatment of IBS because it is made up of hundreds of organic chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, which are able to bind to the same receptors in the brain as the body’s own gastrointestinal tract regulating endocannabinoids. Medical cannabis is able to fill in the missing pieces of the homeostasis puzzle when the body fails to regulate its own endocannabinoid production. The most abundant psychoactive cannabinoid known for producing the feeling of being high, THC, is also known for being an effective reliever of pain and nausea, which are two of the most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. CBD, the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid works is a powerful anti-spasmodic that also produces calming effects in patients. Experts report that, in the treatment of IBS and many other conditions, the medical efficacy of each individual cannabinoid found in medical cannabis increases dramatically when they work together in a process known as the entourage effect. For example, CBC works synergistically with THC to increase the amount of the gastrointestinal regulating endocannabinoid, anandamide, that is in the body at any given time. More anandamide in the system equates to reduced pain because it prevents excessive spasms in the gut wall.

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