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Does Cannabis Help Relieve Constipation?

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Post by Ask Jan on May 26, 2011 18:48:57 GMT -8

American’s are constipated! over 725 million dollars spent yearly for laxatives. Understand its causes, prevention and treatment. Constipation is a symptom, not a disease!

DOES CANNABIS HELP RELIEVE CONSTIPATION?

What Is Constipation?

Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements ranges widely from person to person. Some people have bowel movements three times a day; Others, only one or two times a week. Going longer than three days without a bowel movement is too long. After three days, the stool or feces become harder and more difficult to pass.

You are considered constipated if you have two or more of the following for at least three months:

  • • Straining during a bowel movement more than 25 percent of the time.
  • • Hard stools more than 25 percent of the time.
  • • Incomplete evacuation more than 25 percent of the time.
  • • Two or fewer bowel movements in a week.

Constipation is a symptom, not a disease. Almost everyone experiences constipation at some point in their life, and a poor diet typically is the cause. Most constipation is temporary and not serious. Understanding its causes, prevention, and treatment will help most people find relief.

What Are the Symptoms of Constipation?

Symptoms of constipation can include:

• Infrequent bowel movements and/or difficulty having bowel movements.

• Swollen abdomen or abdominal pain.

Who gets constipated?

Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in the United States. More than 4 million Americans have frequent constipation, accounting for 2.5 million physician visits a year. Those reporting constipation most often are women and adults ages 65 and older. Pregnant women may have constipation, and it is a common problem following childbirth or surgery.

Self-treatment of constipation with over-the-counter (OTC) laxatives is by far the most common aid. Americans spend more than $725 million each year on laxatives.

What causes constipation?

To understand constipation, it helps to know how the colon, or large intestine, works. As food moves through the colon, the colon absorbs water from the food while it forms waste products, or stool. Muscle contractions in the colon then push the stool toward the rectum. By the time stool reaches the rectum it is solid, because most of the water has been absorbed.

Constipation occurs when the colon absorbs too much water or if the colon’s muscle contractions are slow or sluggish, causing the stool to move through the colon too slowly. As a result, stools can become hard and dry. Common causes of constipation are

  • • not enough fiber in the diet
  • • lack of physical activity (especially in the elderly)
  • • medications
  • • milk (dairy products)
  • • irritable bowel syndrome
  • • changes in life or routine such as pregnancy, aging, and travel
  • • abuse of laxatives
  • • ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
  • • dehydration
  • • specific diseases or conditions, such as stroke (most common)
  • • problems with the colon and rectum
  • • problems with intestinal function (chronic idiopathic constipation)
  • • inadequate water intake
  • • stress
  • • Hypothyroidism
  • • neurological conditions (Parkinson’s disease or MS)

People who eat a high-fiber diet are less likely to become constipated. The most common causes of constipation are a diet low in fiber or a diet high in fats, (cheese, eggs, and meats).

Fiber—both soluble and insoluble—is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that the body cannot digest. Soluble fiber dissolves easily in water and takes on a soft, gel-like texture in the intestines. Insoluble fiber passes through the intestines almost unchanged. The bulk and soft texture of fiber help prevent hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass.

Americans eat an average of 5 to 14 grams of fiber daily, which is short of the 20 to 35 grams recommended by the American Dietetic Association. Both children and adults often eat too many refined and processed foods from which the natural fiber has been removed.

Research shows that although increased fluid intake does not necessarily help relieve constipation, many people report some relief from their constipation if they drink fluids such as water and juice and avoid dehydration. Liquids add fluid to the colon and bulk to stools, making bowel movements softer and easier to pass. People who have problems with constipation should try to drink liquids every day. However, liquids that contain caffeine, such as coffee and cola drinks will worsen one’s symptoms by causing dehydration. Alcohol is another beverage that causes dehydration. It is important to drink fluids that hydrate the body, especially when consuming caffeine containing drinks or alcoholic beverages.

A lack of physical activity can lead to constipation, although doctors do not know precisely why. For example, constipation often occurs after an accident or during an illness when one must stay in bed and cannot exercise. Lack of physical activity is thought to be one of the reasons constipation is common in older people.

During pregnancy, women may be constipated because of hormonal changes or because the uterus compresses the intestine. Aging may also affect bowel regularity, because a slower metabolism results in less intestinal activity and muscle tone. In addition, people often become constipated when traveling, because their normal diet and daily routine are disrupted.

Diseases that cause constipation include neurological disorders, metabolic and endocrine disorders, and systemic conditions that affect organ systems. These disorders can slow the movement of stool through the colon, rectum, or anus.

Conditions that can cause constipation are found below.

  • Neurological disorders
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction
  • stroke
  • spinal cord injuries
  • Metabolic and endocrine conditions
  • diabetes
  • uremia
  • hypercalcemia
  • poor glycemic control hypothyroidism
  • Systemic disorders
  • amyloidosis
  • lupus
  • scleroderma
  • Intestinal obstruction, scar tissue—also called adhesions—diverticulosis, tumors, colorectal stricture, Hirschsprung disease, or cancer can compress, squeeze, or narrow the intestine and rectum and cause constipation.

Problems with Intestinal Function

The two types of constipation are idiopathic constipation and functional constipation. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with predominant symptoms of constipation is categorized separately.

Idiopathic—of unknown origin—constipation does not respond to standard treatment.

Functional constipation means that the bowel is healthy but not working properly. Functional constipation is often the result of poor dietary habits and lifestyle. It occurs in both children and adults and is most common in women. Colonic inertia, delayed transit, and pelvic floor dysfunction are three types of functional constipation. Colonic inertia and delayed transit are caused by a decrease in muscle activity in the colon. These syndromes may affect the entire colon or may be confined to the lower, or sigmoid, colon.

Pelvic floor dysfunction is caused by a weakness of the muscles in the pelvis surrounding the anus and rectum. However, because this group of muscles is voluntarily controlled to some extent, biofeedback training is somewhat successful in retraining the muscles to function normally and improving the ability to have a bowel movement.

Functional constipation that stems from problems in the structure of the anus and rectum is known as anorectal dysfunction, or anismus. These abnormalities result in an inability to relax the rectal and anal muscles that allow stool to exit.

How can cannabis help relieve constipation?

Constipation of intestinal reflexes may be alleviated by the anti-emetic properties of cannabis. Relief of constipation was one of the original cannabis indications cited by Shen-Nung five thousand years ago. Virtually every historical medical reference since that time has included similar observations. On the other hand, opiates commonly cause very severe constipation..

Ingesting whole cannabis extract will relax your bowels. Smoking/Vaporizing cannabis will relax your bowels

“Smoking marijuana worked to produce an immediate result, usually in less than two minutes.”

“Hemp seed oil products mixed with herbal extracts are widely sold in China as laxatives.”

Around (2,300 B.C.) hemp was documented as a medicine. Emperor Shen Nung prescribed hemp for the treatment of constipation along with a long list of other ailments. In India, the ayurvedic physicians mix hemp leaves with milk, sugar and spices to treat constipation.

Cannabis Seed for Constipation

Make your own (laxative) concoction: Put 10-15 grams of cannabis seed into your blender or food processor. Drizzle in, ( a little at a time), good quality EVOO (olive oil) and some Meyer lemon zest and juice.

Cannabis seed oil is nutritious. The seeds are rich in essential fatty acids: the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Seeds also contain natural vitamin E and protein.

A study found that the “hemp seed pill “(HSP) relieves a form of constipation known in traditional Chinese medicine as “excessive syndrome,” in which the bowels dry out and cause problems such as dry mouth, abdominal swelling and pain and trouble sleeping.

The study, made up of 120 people and split into two groups, one receiving 7.5 grams of HSP in 150 ml of hot water while the other group got a placebo, (twice a day for 8 weeks). Forty three percent of those taking the HSP reported improvement in their bowel movements, compared to only eight percent in the placebo group. Cannabis has a stabilizing affect on the digestive system. It binds to the nerves that control the digestive system and will reduce symptoms of IBS.

Cannabinoids are antispasmodic. Sedate when there is irritation. Relaxe the smooth muscles.

The relaxing effects of THC can help your intestines pass bulk bowel movements much easier and more quickly because the cannabinoid (THC) relaxes the nerves in the intestional wall. There is a theory that THC helps the stomach digest and process foods more easily.

“Tincture of Cannabis” was an “over the counter” preparation available in most drug stores in the United States until 1937.

Concoction: a combination of various ingredients, usually herbs, spices, powders or minerals, mixed together, minced, dissolved, or macerated into a liquid so it can be ingested or drunk.

Decoction: combining different ingredients by heating or boiling to get the active ingredients released.

A concoction of: Rhubarb, Cannabis sativa, and Elecampane is suppose to be a very effective laxative. “It gives no harmful effect to internal organs but activates their functions and promotes digestion by dissolving bile.”

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Does Cannabis Help Relieve Constipation? « Prev 1 Next » Post by Ask Jan on May 26, 2011 18:48:57 GMT -8 American’s are constipated! over 725 million dollars spent yearly

Marijuana and Constipation: Does Cannabis Affect Your Digestive System?

The answer isn’t as simple as yes or no.

Marijuana has found a place in our society in large part as a natural tool that can help people with a wide range of medical problems. While children with severe seizures and cancer patients are often attached to medical marijuana stories, not all of marijuana’s medical benefits apply to only serious problems. In fact, for thousands of years, people have believed there is a healing link between marijuana and constipation, including the Chinese in 2700 BCE.

Cannabis has been used as a treatment for many digestive related illnesses such as Crohn’s Disease and the side effects of Chemotherapy, and while the science on cannabis’ laxative effects is limited, studies seem to indicate that cannabis use, THC to be more specific, may help combat the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and help reduce diarrhea.

Marijuana and Constipation

However, much like anything else, too much can cause the opposite of the desired effect, although to understand exactly how THC plays into your bathroom schedule requires more research. The same goes for CBD.

There is evidence that shows CBD, among other cannabinoids, does affect gastric motility – which determines how quickly or slowly matter passes through the intestines. How cannabis affects you is dictated in large part by which cannabinoids you’re consuming. Given the fact that there are over 70 known cannabinoids until cannabis is legalized and we can research each cannabinoid more in-depth, any answer that you receive regarding cannabis and constipation is going to come with an asterisk.

Medical marijuana can often be a huge help in many problems that arise from the standard opiate protocol that many doctors prescribe (like constipation.) Not only do patients feel like they have more control, but they also are less likely to become addicted to opiates and subsequently not have to face harsher side effects from opiates.

The science on everything marijuana-related is limited, but according to this self-reported data, long term cannabis users often experience constipation as one of the symptoms that can develop with cannabis use. This study does have its flaws though. In general, there is nothing wrong with self-reported data. However, it mentions that many of the individuals who reported constipation with marijuana also have irritable bowel syndrome. Since constipation can be a side effect of IBS, these results should be taken with a grain of salt.

Claims That Cannabis Help With Constipation Are Not Based In Science

There are websites that will claim that cannabis can actually help with constipation. Marijuanadoctors.com says that “Research reveals medical marijuana can treat digestive disorders, including constipation. Constipation can also be caused by digestive disorders treated with medical marijuana.”

However, the one thing noticeably missing from the entire article is the actual research that supports that claim. They aren’t the only culprits, either. If you search “marijuana constipation” on Google, the entire first page of search results is full of “experts” coming to baseless conclusions about the benefits of cannabis when it comes to constipation. This is a prime example of misinformation poisoning the cannabis dialogue and setting back any efforts to legitimize the plant and the industry. The real answer is there isn’t enough research right now to definitively make the claim that cannabis helps OR hurts your constipation.

Marijuana use has long been considered a tool to help constipation, but much of that evidence is largely anecdotal without any actual scientific evidence. While that may be the norm for answering any health-based questions related to cannabis, it can cause real-world problems for people who then have to blindly test if the claims are solid.

What To Do If You’re Constipated

A problem that people can run into is the fact that constipation can’t actually be cured by marijuana, meaning that if you really want to fix the problem you may have to try some stool softeners or make some lifestyle changes.

Any serious constipation problems that you have may be from underlying health issues instead of THC, but the relationship between our bowel movements and our smoking habits is real and something that you should monitor. If you run into any small problems with your bowels and suspect that it may have something to do with your cannabis consumption, some of the quick fixes that you could try out include switching the strains, looking at your diet, or taking a break from weed. If you have constipation, but no alarming symptoms, try journaling everything you ingest (food and cannabis) for a week or two to see if you can figure something out yourself.

If you have serious concerns, you’ll definitely want to consult your doctor, especially if you exhibit any of these symptoms:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fevers
  • Inability To Pass Gas
  • Severe Rectal Pain

CBD and Diarrhea

iStock / Tinnakorn Jorruang

CBD has been said to cause diarrhea, which can cause way more problems in the short-term if not dealt with.

Diarrhea comes from a number of different reasons and illnesses that our body can cook up, with the bathroom nuisance often being a side-effect of another problem. However, diarrhea is often the cause of dehydration.

CBD related problems often occur from the act of overdoing it, as smaller doses and non-daily use will not likely cause many health issues for you. However, as with THC and constipation, the relationship between CBD and its side-effects are understudied, to say the least.

There are potentially other reasons you are suffering from diarrhea, including:

  • Infections
  • Food allergies and intolerances
  • Digestive tract problems
  • Certain medicines, like antibiotics

If you are dealing with some nasty side-effects and think CBD is to blame, try changing your dose, the strain or the method you use to take it. Going from oil to topical treatment may be all you need to stop unwanted effects, plus it is never a bad thing to try new things.

You should consult your doctor about your diarrhea if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea for more than 2 days
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • 6 or more loose stools in 24 hours
  • Severe pain in the abdomen or rectum
  • Diarrhea that is bloody or resembles coffee grounds

Where Do We Go From Here?

There is a common theme when it comes to answering questions about how cannabis interacts with the body: more research is needed. Until cannabis is federally legal and the appropriate studies can take place, we won’t know definitively all the ways in which cannabis affects your body and why.

Marijuana and constipation are often talked about together, but there isn't enough research to conclude if marijuana helps or hurts your cause.