Gastrointestinal pain has been identified by various national surveys as the #1 symptom that leads to an outpatient clinic visit. A special article published in Gastroenterology in 2019 looked at the cost and burden of GI, Liver, and Pancreatic diseases in the U.S.
It looked at data from 2015, which showed that annual health care for GI diseases totaled almost $136 billion. There were also over 54 million ambulatory visits with GI disease as the primary diagnosis. These are shocking, but not surprising, figures because a survey from 2013 suggested that almost three-quarters of Americans experienced a regular GI problem.
GI complaints are typically a symptom of a more serious issue. Amongst patients admitted to hospital for a GI problem, gallstones, acute pancreatitis, acute appendicitis, and diverticulitis are the four most common diagnoses.
While there are a few different medical treatments available on the market, medical marijuana is being adopted by more and more patients as they seek a natural source of pain relief. In this article, we will discuss Gastrointestinal Pain and review 5 marijuana strains that can help deal with the day to day pain that is associated with this medical condition.
What is Gastrointestinal Pain?
The phrase ‘gastrointestinal pain’ can relate to a variety of issues in the abdominal region including bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. If you suffer from one of these issues regularly, you need to visit your doctor because it could be a symptom of a more severe problem such as Crohn’s disease, EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency), celiac disease, and more.
EPI, in particular, is a concern because it is a condition that involves your pancreas not functioning properly. It is unable to produce the enzymes required for digestion and is associated with medical conditions such as diabetes and pancreatic cancer.
Perhaps the most common issues that result in gastrointestinal pain are Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). IBS is an intestinal disorder which causes symptoms such as gassiness, diarrhea, stomach pain and bloating. IBD is also known as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease. The former causes inflammation of your large intestine’s lining while Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of the lining and wall of the large intestine.
What Are The Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Pain?
If you go to the Healthline website, for example, you’ll find dozens of potential symptoms and over 150 reasons why you have gastrointestinal pain! One of the most common symptoms is a cramp-like pain with comes and goes. You may also experience ‘localized’ pain in one area of your abdomen. This pain may be caused by problems with a certain organ.
Various conditions carry their own set of symptoms. For example, symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. In all cases of gastrointestinal pain, it is time to visit your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Bloody stools
- Blood in your vomit
- Problems breathing
- Severe tenderness of the abdomen or swelling
- Yellowing eyes or skin
- Persistent vomiting or nausea
- High fever with a temperature of 101+ degrees Fahrenheit
What is Life with Gastrointestinal Pain Like?
Even if your gastrointestinal pain is not a symptom of a more serious condition, it does make life extremely uncomfortable. It is possible that you suffer from a functional GI disorder known as ‘mediated abdominal pain syndrome’ (CAPS). It is a frustrating condition because neither x-rays nor lab findings can discover the cause. If you’re unlucky enough to have CAPS, the pain is so severe that it can negatively impact your ability to go about your daily business.
If your GI pain is caused by a more serious condition, there’s a possibility that the illness will remain undetected for years unless you either schedule a medical check-up or else the condition becomes too painful to ignore. Gastrointestinal pain can strike you anywhere; at home, at work or even while driving.
Traditional Remedies Used to Treat Gastrointestinal Pain (Not Marijuana Related)?
Assuming that your gastrointestinal pain is not caused by another illness, there are numerous remedies available. Since it is such a broad condition, there’s a strong chance that your treatment of choice will be ineffective.
This acronym stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce & Toast. The purpose of the diet is to force you to eat low-fiber, high-binding foods to help with an upset stomach, diarrhea, and nausea. The bland food should allow you to eat without further upsetting your stomach.
Peppermint or Chamomile Tea
The menthol in peppermint is a natural pain reliever so a cup of peppermint tea can reduce feelings of nausea. Chamomile tea acts as an anti-inflammatory which helps your stomach muscles relax; the result could be reduced cramping and spasms.
Bitters & Soda
This unusual concoction is said to provide relief from nausea. Mix 5-6 drops of cocktail bitters with cold ginger ale, tonic water or soda water. The majority of bitters contain herbs such as fennel, mint, and cinnamon.
If you’re suffering from gas, common over-the-counter (OTC) medications include Gas-X and Mylanta. For heartburn, try Xantac 75, and for other types of pain, regular medication choices include Panadol and Tylenol. Avoid NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and aspirin because they can irritate the stomach.
Medical Research on Marijuana for Gastrointestinal Pain
The illegal status that marijuana has in many locations has made it extremely difficult to conduct thorough medical research. Cannabis has been used to treat gastrointestinal pain for centuries in the east and more than 100 years in the west.
One of the reasons why marijuana could be effective in treating GI pain is because it interacts with endogenous cannabinoid receptors in the digestive tract which results in reduced pain and spasms.
A 2004 study by Hornby and Prouty shows that cannabinoid treatments have the potential to manage conditions such as IBS because cannabis can eliminate nerve pain and it also possesses anti-inflammatory properties.
There have been human clinical studies on the effects of cannabis’ ability to stimulate food intake and weight gain in healthy individuals since the 1970s. These studies found that cannabis was able to fight the painful cramping that accompanies GI pain because cannabinoids do an excellent job of relaxing contractions of the muscle of the intestines.
A 2012 study by Lahat, Lang, and Ben-Horin, published in the journal Digestion, looked at the impact of marijuana treatment on clinical disease activity, weight, and quality of life, of patients with IBD. Although it was admittedly a small study of just 13 patients, 11 of whom had Crohn’s disease while two others had ulcerative colitis, the results were very promising.
None of the patients were using weed at the time of the study, and they were given 50 grams of marijuana to smoke when needed over three months. At the end of the period, all 13 patients used the entire 50-gram stash and saw improvements in their health.
The Harvey-Bradshaw Index rates the disease symptoms in Crohn’s disease. In the 11 patients who used cannabis, their Harvey-Bradshaw score dropped from 11.36 to just 2.68, which is classified as a great result. All of the patients reported significant reductions in pain, and big improvements in abdominal pain level and general wellbeing. Also, they enjoyed an average weight gain of 4.3 kilograms in the three months. Even the average number of liquid stools was almost halved from 5.54 to just 3.18.
In 2016, a review by Ahmed and Katz, published in Gastroenterology & Hepatology, looked at the therapeutic use of weed in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The research team analyzed the studies conducted by numerous scientists to determine whether marijuana use provided relief to patients with IBD.
What was interesting was when the review looked at therapy studies which evaluated clinical response in people with IBD. In three studies, all of the patients reported significant improvement in their quality of life, a major reduction in disease activity, and weight gain.
The review did warn that the safety profile of marijuana was not established, and suggested that there could be detrimental effects. However, it also stated that existing IBD management options such as corticosteroids carried long-term side effects such as infection and malignancy. It recommended large, randomized, double-blind controlled trials using weed, along with long-term follow-up and safety profiles.
Beware Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)!
It isn’t all good news when it comes to marijuana use and stomach issues. According to Cedars-Sinai, CHS is a condition that results in repeated and severe bouts of vomiting. It is extremely rare and only occurs in daily chronic users of marijuana. In your digestive tract, numerous molecules bind to THC and related substances.
In other words, marijuana DOES impact the digestive tract. For instance, weed could change the amount of time it takes your stomach to empty. At present, CHS is not well understood, but it appears to occur due to excessive weed use. It is also important to note that not ALL heavy cannabis users end up with CHS. Indeed, researchers still don’t know why it affects some people and not others.
Possible symptoms of CHS include:
- Stomach pain
- Ongoing nausea
- Decreased food intake, along with weight loss
- Symptoms of dehydration
- Repeated vomiting
Unfortunately, if you are a heavy user of weed and develop CHS symptoms, the only known way to recover is to quit using marijuana. However, CHS is a bizarre condition, and there is minimal research into it at present. Even so, we urge users to beware overindulging in weed. Contrary to the old saying; it seems as if you CAN have too much of a good thing!
Now, let’s look at five marijuana strains for GI pain. Remember, use weed in moderation!
Top 5 Marijuana Strains For Gastrointestinal Pain
1 – Tangerine
Tangerine is believed to be a slightly sativa-dominant hybrid, and it has mysterious origins. It is believed to be the result of a four times backcross of CH9 and was created by a company called CH9 Female Seeds. It is a pretty potent strain with a THC content of between 18% and 22%, but it also has up to 2% CBD, which helps its status as a medical marijuana strain.
Users report feeling euphoric soon after using Tangerine, and this is followed by a general feeling of happiness. Don’t be surprised if you begin giggling uncontrollably for no good reason. The indica side of Tangerine eventually takes over and provides you with a mild sedative effect. You will feel relaxed but not sleepy.
Tangerine is very much a strain where the taste matches the name. It offers gorgeous sweet and zesty flavors such as tangerines and pineapples. As well as alleviating stress, Tangerine can help patients in chronic pain from GI issues. You will attain a pleasant high that never threatens to interfere with your everyday duties.
2 – Blueberry Diesel
This strain was bred in California and is a cross of a pair of superstars: Sour Diesel and Blueberry. Please note that there are other stains also called ‘Blueberry Diesel’ that are a cross of Blueberry and NYC Diesel, or a mix of Blueberry Cheese and Purp Diesel genetics. In any case, the Blueberry Diesel we are talking about here is a slightly indica-dominant hybrid with a THC level ranging from 14% to 23%, and minimal CBD.
Blueberry Diesel provides users with a calming and relaxing high. After a while, you may feel more focused than usual; a feeling that is accompanied by happiness and elation. It is an excellent social strain because of its propensity to induce laughter. Ultimately, this strain can result in couch lock due to its potent sedative qualities.
It is an excellent evening strain with effects that can last for up to three hours. The sweet blueberry flavor has a hint of diesel, which gives it an extra kick. Blueberry Diesel is used to treat nausea and is also believed to help stimulate the appetite. If your GI pain is causing you anxiety, this strain can soothe your nerves, and allow you to enjoy a better quality of sleep.
3 – Tutankhamen
This strongly sativa-dominant hybrid comes from the AK47 strain. It was created by Pyramid Seeds, and its THC level varies from a reasonable 18% to an extremely potent 29%! It is a strain that can work for GI pain sufferers due to the strength of the high. It begins with a cerebral rush and is followed up by a feeling of numbness that does a nice job taking the edge off any pain you feel.
The strongest cuts of Tutankhamen are among the most potent weed you’ll find on the market. The intense head high comes on early and makes you feel happy and, ultimately, euphoric. Even so, your mind remains clear as creativity takes hold. You may also feel a slight burst of energy. The sweet and fruity flavors are very agreeable on the palate.
Medical marijuana users love Tutankhamen because of its ability to provide energy, a noteworthy high, and a feeling of joy. It is widely used by individuals with conditions such as PTSD and depression, but it is also used to relieve pain. This is mainly because you are so focused on the cerebral high that you can’t feel much pain elsewhere in the body.
4 – Gigabud
As you probably guess, Gigabud is known for its enormous nugs. It is a slightly indica-dominant hybrid that’s a cross of Northern Lights and Big Bud. G13 bred this strain to produce an intense physical high that can take your mind off any pains and aches you feel. Its THC content is reasonable at 18-19%, and its CBD content is very low.
The intense cerebral high elevates the mood and often provides users with a boost in energy. Despite the strength of the head high, the mind remains clear, which means you can continue with your daily chores. However, the body high creeps up on you, and ultimately, you’ll find it extremely hard to even move! Gigabud causes a severe case of the munchies, which is great news for GI pain sufferers who find it hard to eat.
Gigabud has a classic herbal and pine taste that isn’t exactly mouth-watering but is far from being unpleasant. The physical high is what draws medical marijuana users to this strain. If you are in constant pain, Gigabud could be a real boon. It also works to alleviate stress and could be effective if you have insomnia.
5 – Durban Poison
As you can guess from the name, this strain originates from the South African city of Durban. It was brought to the U.S. in the 1970s by a weed activist and is a pure South African Sativa. As a result, it is known for providing users with an energetic cerebral high that makes it popular as a Wake and Bake strain. Its THC content is between 16% and 20%, so it is suitable for moderately experienced users.
If GI pain is getting you down in the morning, try a few hits of Durban Poison. It works to invigorate you and is also associated with increases in creativity. The cerebral high is extremely stimulating and could enhance your mood. The strain is also famous for the strong pine taste it provides when inhaled; although it leaves a delightful citrus taste on the tongue.
As a medical marijuana strain, Durban Poison is mainly associated with treating conditions such as anxiety, depression, and stress. It is believed to help remove unhappy thoughts while you are high, and it does all of this without causing a sedative effect. This strain is also used to treat nausea and can help improve the appetite of those undergoing chemical treatment to fight cancer.
Final Thoughts about Marijuana & Gastrointestinal Pain
GI pain is worryingly common and is occasionally debilitating. Research suggests that cannabis can significantly improve your gastrointestinal health and help reduce chronic pain. It’s important to remember, before any cannabis consumption, consult with your primary doctor or with a marijuana doctor to understand what’s best for you.