Various national surveys have identified gastrointestinal pain as one of the leading symptoms 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 analyzed data from 2015, which showed that annual healthcare expenditure for GI diseases totaled almost $136 billion. There were also over 54 million ambulatory visits with GI disease as the primary diagnosis.
These are alarming figures, but not surprising because a survey from 2013 suggested that almost three-quarters of Americans experienced GI problems regularly.
GI complaints are sometimes a symptom of a more serious issue.
Amongst patients admitted to hospital for a GI problem, four of the most common diagnoses are gallstones, acute pancreatitis, acute appendicitis, and diverticulitis.
While there are many 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 (that being said, if you have any of the conditions mentioned above, it is recommended you seek medical attention).
In this article, we will discuss gastrointestinal pain and review five marijuana strains that can help deal with the day to day pain it causes. Please note that these haven’t been proven to be the best marijuana strains for gastrointestinal pain in any studies; they are merely our recommendations.
What Is Gastrointestinal Pain?
The phrase ‘gastrointestinal pain’ can relate to a variety of issues in the abdominal region, including bloating and gas. Sometimes, this pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as diarrhea and constipation.
People who suffer from these issues regularly should visit their doctor because it could be a symptom of a more severe problem. Some (but definitely not all) severe possibilities include Crohn’s disease, EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency), celiac disease, or another serious condition.
EPI, in particular, is a concern because it is a condition that involves the 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.
Other issues that result in gastrointestinal pain are irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBS is an intestinal disorder that causes symptoms such as gassiness, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, bloating, and relief after defecation.
IBD is an umbrella term for two conditions, namely ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The former causes inflammation of the large intestine’s inner lining, while Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of all layers of the digestive tract.
What Are The Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Pain?
Healthline’s website, for example, details dozens of potential symptoms and over 150 reasons for gastrointestinal pain! One of the most common symptoms is a cramp-like pain that comes and goes. People with gastrointestinal pain may also experience localized pain in one area of their abdomen. This pain may be caused by problems with a particular 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, people should visit their doctor if they experience any of the following:
- Bloody stools
- Vomiting blood
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe tenderness of the abdomen or swelling
- Yellowing eyes or skin
- Persistent vomiting or nausea
- High fever
What Is Life Like with Gastrointestinal Pain?
Even if gastrointestinal pain is not a symptom of a more serious condition, it does make life extremely uncomfortable. It is possible that a person is suffering from a functional GI disorder known as centrally mediated abdominal pain syndrome (CAPS). It is a frustrating condition because neither x-rays nor lab findings can discover the cause. For people with CAPS, the pain is so severe that it can negatively impact their ability to go about their daily business.
If the GI pain is caused by a more serious condition, there’s a possibility that the illness will remain undetected for years unless the person either schedules a medical check-up or else the condition becomes too painful to ignore.
Traditional Remedies Used to Treat Gastrointestinal Pain
Assuming that another illness is not causing the gastrointestinal pain, there are numerous remedies available. Since it is such a broad condition, there’s a strong chance that a treatment may be ineffective if it’s not aimed at the right source of the pain.
Peppermint or Chamomile Tea
Peppermint tea may relax the digestive system, which can reduce pain. Chamomile tea may act as an anti-inflammatory, which could help the stomach muscles to relax and lead to reduced cramping and spasms.
Common over-the-counter (OTC) medications for gas include Gas-X and Mylanta. For heartburn, there’s Zantac, and there’s Tylenol for other types of pain. 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 can result in reduced pain and spasms.
Research into Cannabinoids and IBD
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 and two others with ulcerative colitis; the results were very promising.
None of the patients were using cannabis 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 5.72. 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 cannabis 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.
In three studies, all of the patients reported significant improvement in their quality of life, a significant 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 cannabis for IBD, 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.
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, for heavy users of cannabis that develop CHS symptoms, the only known way to recover is to quit using marijuana. However, CHS is an unusual condition, and there is minimal research into it at present. Even so, we urge users to beware of overindulging on cannabis. Contrary to the old saying, it seems as if you CAN have too much of a good thing!
Top 5 Marijuana Strains For Gastrointestinal Pain
Now, let’s look at five marijuana strains for GI pain. Remember, use cannabis in moderation!
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 13% and 18%, but it also has up to 2% CBD.
Users report feeling euphoric soon after using Tangerine, and a general feeling of happiness follows this. The indica side of Tangerine eventually takes over and provides its consumers with a mild sedative effect. This strain instills a feeling of relaxation but not sleepiness.
Tangerine is very much a strain where the taste matches the name. It offers sweet and zesty flavors such as tangerines and pineapples. As well as helping to alleviate stress, Tangerine may help patients in chronic pain from GI issues. Tangerine consumers may experience a pleasant high that is unlikely to interfere with their 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 strains also called ‘Blueberry Diesel’ that are a cross of Blueberry and NYC Diesel, or a mix of Blueberry Cheese and Purp Diesel genetics.
However, 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 its consumers with a calming and relaxing high. After a while, Blueberry Diesel consumers 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 couchlock 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 may be useful for relieving nausea and is also believed to help stimulate the appetite. This strain may also be helpful for GI patients with anxiety. It may even help its consumers to enjoy better quality sleep, too.
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 may 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, which may dull any feeling of pain.
The strongest cuts of Tutankhamun are among the most potent strains that are on the market. The intense head high comes on early and can lead to a feeling of euphoria. Even so, this strain does not affect one’s mental clarity. It may even stimulate some creative thinking too. The Tutankhamun strain may also provide its consumers with a slight burst of energy, too. Also, the sweet and fruity flavors are very pleasant on the palate.
Medical marijuana users love Tutankhamun 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, and it may be useful at relieving pain.
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 a person’s mind off any pains and aches that they might be feeling. 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 enables its consumers to continue with their daily chores. However, Gigabud’s body high creeps up on its consumers, and ultimately, they may find it extremely hard even to move! Gigabud may also stimulate one’s appetite too, which is great news for GI pain sufferers who find it hard to eat.
Gigabud has a classic herbal and piney 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. It also works to alleviate stress and could be effective for people with insomnia.
5 – Durban Poison
This strain originates from the South African city of Durban. It was brought to the U.S. in the 1970s by a cannabis activist and is a purely South African sativa. As a result, it is known for providing users with an energetic cerebral high. Its THC content is between 16% and 26%.
Durban Poison is an invigorating strain that is also associated with increased creativity. The cerebral high is extremely stimulating and could enhance its consumer’s mood. The strain is also famous for its strong piney taste when inhaled, although it leaves a delightful citrus taste on the tongue.
As a medical marijuana strain, Durban Poison is mainly used by consumers with conditions such as anxiety, depression, and stress. The good news is that it does not have any sedating effects. This strain may be useful for relieving nausea and helping to improve the appetite of those undergoing a range of different treatments.
Final Thoughts About Marijuana & Gastrointestinal Pain
GI pain is common and can be debilitating. Some causes of abdominal pain are medical emergencies, and a trip to the emergency room should not be delayed if the pain is severe.
Research suggests that cannabis can improve gastrointestinal health and help reduce certain kinds of chronic pain. If you are considering using marijuana to relieve gastrointestinal pain, then It is important that you speak to your doctor beforehand.