Is there a link between cannabis and gut health?
Over recent years, studies related to gut health have gained significant attention. Experts describe the gut as being like the body’s “second brain,” able to sense and alert one to stimuli that often go unnoticed by our cognitive functions. But does cannabis play some sort of role alongside it?
Some interesting studies have emerged regarding the relationship between cannabis and gut health. As always, Chronic Haze is on the case. In this blog post, we’ll go over the impact cannabis usage has on your gut health. Ready? Let’s get started.
Gut Health and the Endocannabinoid System
For those who don’t know, our digestive tracts contain over 100 trillion microbial cells that benefit your digestion, nutrition, and immune system, among other things. These bacteria can also be disrupted, leading to obesity and gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and mental health conditions such as depression. This makes it paramount to maintain a healthy gut microbiome. And interestingly, the endocannabinoid system plays an integral role in managing the gut microbiome.
In addition to the brain and other vital organs, the ECS also extends to the gut, regulating its functions. Digestion, food motility, and immune responses are all linked to the activity of the ECS. It works the other way around, too; an unhealthy gut, or gut dysbiosis, can mess with the ECS, leading to the aforementioned effects. A healthy, balanced microbiome does the opposite, leading to healthy function and a positive state of mind. These facts were confirmed in a 2020 study on mice, in which gut dysbiosis negatively impacted the mice’s ECS, putting them in a depressive state.
Clearly, the gut and ECS are inextricably linked. But what about when we introduce cannabis into the mix?
What Does Cannabis Do For the Gut?
Cannabis seems to be able to contribute to a healthy gut microbiome. Cannabinoids have long been proven to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body, being able to provide relief in cases of nausea, abdominal pain, and gastrointestinal disorders. Researchers have been taking this as evidence of cannabis’ ability to promote healthy gut flora, due to cannabinoids interacting with receptors in the gut. CBD is commonly cited for its ability to relax the body, but THC is proving to be quite effective as well.
THC has been shown to have effects on the gut that seem to combat obesity. Two of the gut’s four main phyla, namely Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes, have been linked to obesity, especially when the ratio of the two is high. In a 2015 mouse study, cannabis was shown to have antimicrobial effects on Bacteroidetes, thereby preventing the gut permeability associated with obesity. THC also seems to increase the amount of Akkermansia muciniphila in the gut, which improves glucose tolerance and metabolism and contributes to overall weight loss. Studies such as these seem to confirm the observation that cannabis users tend to be less obese than non-users.
The combination of THC and CBD also seems to be beneficial for people with IBS, by providing relief from abdominal pain, slowing the movement of food, and decreasing the frequency of bowel movements, particularly in those with diarrhea.
What Should I Watch Out For?
What’s important to remember is that there is no conclusive evidence that cannabis is a cure for gut dysbiosis or other gastrointestinal conditions. While cannabinoids are useful for their anti-inflammatory properties, most blood-based biomarkers of reduced inflammation don’t appear as a result of cannabis, making it tricky to confirm their usefulness. It’s also important to remember that most of these studies were conducted on mice. While it is indeed promising, more research still needs to be done.
Additionally, despite these arguments in favour of cannabis, there are still some areas that need addressing. In human studies, cannabis users have exhibited a ratio of Prevotella and Bacteroidetes that is 13 times lower than non-users. This, in combination with a lack of dietary fibre and antioxidants, have been seen to lead to a series of changes in the body that result in certain cognitive defects.
However, the benefits of cannabis for the gut microbiome can’t be ignored. Going further, what’s important is to figure out how to harness the upsides of cannabis so that those with gut dysbiosis can be relieved of the havoc it wreaks on the body.
Wanna Learn More?
If you’re looking to get high from only the best products, stop by the Chronic Haze online store! We’ve got tons of cannabis and related products that we’re sure you’ll love, with same-day delivery and curbside pickup options for your convenience.
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Also, did you know there’s a link between cannabis and neurodivergence? Check out this blog post to find out more!