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How Cannabis May Help Treat Gastritis

Cannabis can be an effective, natural, and safe treatment against gastritis. The herb contains cannabinoids, that bind to CB1 receptors within the gut, resulting in tissue repair.

Modern science is unveiling how cannabis can work within the human body in a very specific way in order to successfully treat and possibly even cure a wide variety of illnesses, ailments, and conditions. One condition, that the herb seems to help treat is gastritis, a group of symptoms, that are all caused by inflammation of the gut.

WHAT IS GASTRITIS?

Gastritis is characterised by inflammation occurring within the gut, and can manifest in multiple forms. The inflammation at the root of the condition is most commonly caused by a strain of bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori, which is one of the most common bacterial infections. However, only a select amount of people who become infected by the bacteria suffer with symptoms of gastritis. This could be because of numerous factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors.

When it comes to lifestyle choices, gastritis can spring up after the use of alcohol, spicy foods, anti-inflammatory drugs, autoimmune issues, radiation therapy, and Crohn’s disease.

These factors can lead to inflammation of the gut lining, leading to inflammation of the mucosa. The condition can eventually damage this protective layer, leading to stomach acid damaging the stomach lining.

TYPES OF GASTRITIS

Gastritis, that appears suddenly is known as acute gastritis and can be directly linked to the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). This is due to inhibition of an enzyme, that is responsible for synthesis of eicosanoids within the stomach, which can lead to the formation of stomach ulcers. Drugs such as aspirin can also lead to reduced production of prostaglandin, which actively helps to protect the stomach. Physiological stress from hypoxia and trauma can also lead to acute gastritis.

Gastritis, that appears slowly over a long period of time, is known as chronic gastritis. This can be caused by autoimmune disorders, where the body creates proteins and antibodies, that perceive the stomach as a foreign threat and begin to attack and deteriorate the stomach lining. Autoimmune gastritis is more common in patients experiencing Hashimoto’s disease, type 1 diabetes, and vitamin B12 deficiency.

Chronic gastritis can also be caused by bile making its way into the stomach, connective tissue disorders, and liver or kidney failure.

Old age is also a contributing factors, considering, that the stomach lining tends to thin with age, and the older population is more likely to experience Helicobacter pylori infections than the younger population.

SYMPTOMS OF GASTRITIS

Gastritis can lead to an array of uncomfortable symptoms, which can in some cases eventually lead to stomach ulcers and even an increased risk of stomach cancer. One major symptom of the condition is a burning ache or pain, that manifests in the stomach region and within the upper abdomen. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, bloating, belching, indigestion, and loss of appetite.

HOW CANNABIS CAN HELP

Avoiding certain foods, such as acidic fruits and high-fat food may help with the condition, along with halting lifestyle habits such as smoking, consuming caffeine, and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.

Certain antibiotics may also be used in order to target Helicobacter pylori bacteria. However, such medications may actually result in side effects, that are similar to the symptoms of gastritis itself, such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.

Cannabis is a safe and natural medicine, that acts as an excellent option for some people that are dealing with the condition. The herb can offer some of the benefits of conventional medicines used for the condition, yet without many of the damaging and uncomfortable side effects, that can reduce the patient’s quality of life.

Cannabis can act to reduce some of the symptoms caused by the condition, and may actually act at a deeper level to quell the inflammation at the root cause of gastritis.

SYMPTOM REDUCTION

Cannabis is well known to assist in nausea and vomiting, two symptoms of gastritis. THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid within the cannabis plant, has been prescribed since the 1980s for the treatment of nausea, and is often employed to combat it after bouts of chemotherapy. Its effectiveness is believed to be linked to how the cannabinoids effect centres within the brain, that control both nausea and vomiting.

Loss of appetite is another symptom of gastritis, and one, that cannabis can definitely assist with. The plant is associated with the famous stereotype of inducing the “munchies”, a ravenous appetite, that can occur after ingesting THC, resulting in the raiding of many fridges.

Research has shown that gastritis is associated with mood disorders, such as anxiety, panic attacks and depression. Cannabis is commonly prescribed for these mental conditions and may be of great assistance to gastritis patients who are suffering from them.

INFLAMMATION

As we have discussed, the primary cause of gastritis is inflammation of the gut lining. Cannabis produces numerous cannabinoids with potent and proven anti-inflammatory properties, such as CBD.

What’s more, a 2005 study conducted at the University of Bath and Bristol in the United Kingdom, showed that cannabis is effective in cases of inflammatory bowel disease and gastritis. The researches explained that cannabis influenced cannabinoid receptors within the gut and brain, resulting in effective treatment.

Cannabinoid receptors can be found all throughout the body, and make up what is known as the endocannabinoid system. These receptors are activated by numerous cannabinoids within the cannabis plant. The endocannabinoid system is partly made up of CB1 receptors, which can be found within the brain and the lining of the gut. These receptors are reported to help repair the gut lining when it becomes damaged.

During the study, researchers purposely damaged gut tissue, resulting in inflammation. Synthetic cannabinoids were then administered to the tissue, resulting in the healing process. It is believed, that cannabinoids created within the body, or endocannabinoids, are released from endothelial cells of a healthy gut, which go on to bind to CB1 receptors and assist in the repair process when damage occurs. When patients use medical cannabis, external cannabinoids may help to fulfil the same purpose.

Cannabis has been shown to be effective at helping to repair the gut when it comes to gastritis, activating CB1 receptors within the region.

Pot pains: Why marijuana can become toxic for some

Marijuana is having a moment. The once recreational-use-only drug is now considered by many as a medicine, an anti-nauseant and pain reliever, even an epilepsy medication.

But some long-term “pot heads” are finding the drug they once loved can suddenly turn on them and become almost toxic.

These users are developing a little-understood condition called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome that brings on unrelenting vomiting, nausea and stomach pain.

Standard medications do not relieve it, smoking more marijuana only seems to worsen it, and some doctors say they are seeing a lot more cases of it.

It was intense stomach pains that brought Dave to his doctors four months ago. The 45-year-old from southern Ontario (who’d prefer not to use his full name) knew he needed help when intense cramping left him balled up on the sofa, unable to work.

“I really wasn’t able to function much at all. I was constantly having to lie down with a constant pain,” he told CTVNews.ca by phone.

Even after Dave’s doctor ordered reams of ultrasounds, CT scans, and colonoscopies, no one could find anything wrong with him, leaving Dave frustrated.

“It was starting to take a toll on me after a few months. I was doing all these tests and not knowing what was wrong with me or who to turn to,” he says.

Dave finally turned to the internet, where he stumbled on discussions about cannabinoid hyperemisis, a condition he had never heard of.

History of hyperemesis

The first mention of the syndrome appeared in 2004, when a doctor in Australia published an article in the journal Gut describing several patients with a “cyclical vomiting illness” (or hyperemesis). All the patients had a history of “chronic cannabis abuse” and all seemed to find relief from their symptoms by taking multiple hot showers or baths a day.

“Everything I read about this CHS fit the picture,” Dave says.

“The only thing I didn’t have was the vomiting. But I had nausea and constant stomach pain and I was getting relief with hot baths and showers,” he said.

Dave also had a 25-year history of daily pot smoking. He had recently switched to smoking “shatter,” a marijuana concentrate high in THC, that he believes made things worse. Though Dave had told his doctor about his drug use, he connect his symptoms to CHS. In fact, the physician may have never seen another patient with CHS.

Emergency room doctors such as Dr. Raj Waghmare are seeing them, however. Waghmare recently wrote a blog post about the first time he diagnosed a patient with CHS, just under two years ago.

The well-dressed man had come into his ER with non-stop vomiting and abdominal pain. Like Dave, this man’s blood and urine test came out normal, yet no matter what drug Waghmare offered him, nothing seemed to quell his nausea.

Then the man mentioned that hot baths helped to dull the pain.

That’s when Waghmare recognized CHS from an article he had read about in a Canadian medical journal.

It’s a condition that can’t be easily diagnosed, since there is no one test that can spot it. It’s only after everything else has been ruled out and a history of pot use has been established that doctors are left with CHS.

Waghmare says he’s since seen dozens more patients with CHS come through the doors of Southlake Regional Health Centre where he works.

“I probably see this every week in the ER,” he says. “if we were to go through all the charts from a full week, I’m sure we’d see at least a case of day among all the doctors.”

Most of the patients Waghmare sees had no idea that the drug they used every day could suddenly become toxic to them.

“People don’t know that this exists,” he says.

What actually causes CHS remains a mystery. The THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana causes the drug’s high by stimulating the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, but one theory is that in some patients, those receptors eventually become overloaded.

“So it will work for nausea in the beginning, but then it will totally desensitize the receptors so that people will just feel nauseated all the time,” says Waghmare.

Why some patients develop the syndrome and others don’t remains a mystery; the condition hasn’t been the subject of rigorous scientific study. It appears to develop in those who smoke weed several times a day for a decade or so. But there is some evidence that people who begin daily pot use at a young age are more at risk.

The majority of CHS patients coming to see Waghmare are young men who have been smoking marijuana since high school. By the time they reach their mid-20s, they have a decade of use under their belts.

And yet many refuse to believe the pot is the problem.

When Waghmare tells young pot users the only thing that will end their vomiting and pain is to quit smoking weed for good, they often stop listening.

“A lot of these patients who come in are ‘frequent flyers,’ They’ve heard it before and they refuse to believe it. They refuse to give it up,” he says.

But older patients often take his advice and quit cold turkey, as the patient who Waghmare wrote about promised he would do. As an ER doc, however, he has no way of following up.

At least one Facebook group has also been formed in which users discuss their symptoms and experiences.

As for Dave, he says has stopped smoking both marijuana and shatter. In fact, he wishes he never tried shatter at all, since he suspects that is what triggered his symptoms. Now, after three months of pain, he’s finally beginning to feel better. He’s also found a new doctor and has begun a new drug regimen for his Type 2 diabetes, which is also helping him feel better.

But doctors like Waghmare says there needs to be more awareness that this syndrome can develop in some pot users.

With all the recent discussions about the medicinal uses for marijuana, and the ongoing discussion about legalization, Waghmare says many pot users assumes the drug is benign, that it relieves pain and nausea, that there’s no way it could cause it.

“There’s this belief that (marijuana) is totally safe, a miracle drug, Not true,” he says.

In this Feb. 17, 2016 photo, plants grow at the home of Jeremy Nickle, in his backyard in Honolulu, Hawaii. (AP / Marina Riker)

Medical marijuana users insist that using pot does their bodies good, but doctors are seeing an increasing number of long-time smokers discovering that the drug they once loved because it took away their pain is now making them sick. ]]>