Digest This: Medical Marijuana May Help Sufferers Of Gastritis

More research is needed, but the gut feeling is marijuana may aid stomach ailments.

gastritis
Photo by Wavebreak/Getty Images

Add gastritis to the growing list of conditions marijuana may positively impact.

Having a healthy digestive system and being able to absorb nutrients are things that many people take for granted. For people with acute or chronic gastritis, life is not so simple. Gastritis is a condition that many in the public may not fully understand. For those at its mercy, it can be a life altering impairment able to dramatically reduce every day quality of life.

A quick look at some common symptoms helps shed light on why it can be so painful and disturbing:

  • Nausea and chronic upset stomach
  • Indigestion
  • Vomiting
  • Hiccups
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloating of the abdomen
  • Vomiting blood
  • Black stools

Gastritis, on its most basic level, is inflammation of the lining of the stomach. Glands exist in the lining that produce stomach acid and an enzyme called pepsin. Together, they digest food and proteins. A thick layer of mucous usually protects the stomach tissue from this chemical reaction.

Excessive alcohol consumption, stress and repeated use of NSAID medicines like Tylenol, aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs can cause gastritis. It can also be caused naturally by an infection in the stomach called Helicobacter pylori, (H. pylori). Occasionally, it can be caused by an autoimmune reaction causing the body to attack the stomach lining. 

Treating gastritis is often includes reduction of spicy, acidic foods and alcohol, use of antacid medications or antibiotics when the cause is infection. They are also treated by histamine blockers with well-known names like Pepcid, Tagament and Zantac.

There is growing body of knowledge about the endocannabinoid system, the endogenous system regulator that receives innate (endocannabinoids) and marijuana-produced (phytocannabinoids) compounds. These cannabinoids are received in our bodies through what are known as our CB1 and CB2 receptors. They may be the keys to a different therapeutic approach.

Scientists have shown that activating the CB1 receptors with cannabinoids reduces gastric acid secretion and gastric motor activity while also reducing lesions in the important protective mucous lining in the stomach. Cannabis also helps protect against gastrointestinal damage and inflammation. If this wasn’t enough, it also reduces abdominal pain and diarrhea and improves appetite. 

Encouraged researchers from Austria and Germany have recently stated that, “it was not surprising to discover that the GI tract accommodates and expresses all the components of the ECS (the endocannabinoid system).” Rodent studies looking at this question of efficacy have concluded, “the endocannabinoid system conveys protection to the GI tract (e.g. from inflammation and abnormally high gastric and enteric secretions.”

Anecdotal stories from encouraged patients back up this claim, but further testing on humans and continued research into efficacy are needed. But don’t bet against marijuana for the GI tract and gastritis. The potential is great for it to help people with a wide variety of conditions that affect the gut. Investors and researchers are taking note. More research is currently being conducted. Stay tuned.

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