Spring is blossoming and flowers are blooming. How about the flora, or microbiome of your gut? April is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) awareness month and we’re going to explain what that is and how it can be treated.
IBS is an intestinal condition where pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea affect quality of life and functional status.
IBS affects up to 20% of the population and is commonly confused with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a more serious condition affecting 2% of the population. In IBD the intestines develop ulcerations that can bleed such as Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis and is often treated with heavy pharmaceuticals and surgery.
IBS affects more women than men, and may be related to increased prostaglandins circulating in the system which contract the bowel causing diarrhea and cramping. NSAIDs like Motrin are the typical treatment as they reduce prostaglandins. IBS is linked to a gut-brain connection, where stress, diet, and activities affect GI function. Medications are also an issue, as RX such as opiates, NSAIDs, antidepressants, antihistamines, and blood pressure pills slow down motility.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) regulates the digestive process and supporting it may be able to help restore function.
When the ECS tone is poor, conditions like migraine, IBS, and fibromyalgia may develop – often within the same person. All manifest hyperalgesia, or heightened pain sensitivity, along with dysregulated functioning of body systems and mood. Supplementing the ECS tone with phytocannabinoids is a first step in trying to restore balance. CB1 and CB2 receptors line the intestinal walls and respond to nutrients in cannabis to activate them. CBD limits inflammation and raises levels of our own endocannabinoid Anandamide, and THC directly activates receptors that speed up or slow down gut motility and secretions.
The science shows receptor counts rise in response to inflammation, seeking endocannabinoids to balance dysfunction. If there is an ECS deficiency, taking CBD and THC can directly relieve symptoms and may treat the disease. Cannabinoids also activate other receptors in the gut that reduce inflammation and pain such as PPARs, GPR55, and TRVP1. People who have GI issues have found various ways to improve their quality of life with daily cannabis tinctures and vaping as needed to relieve acute distress. Topicals can reduce abdominal swelling and offer comfort locally. Look for the terpene beta-caryophyllene in your cannabis products as it acts like black pepper and actives CB2 as an anti-inflammatory assist.
As always, it’s not just about the pills, procedures, or even cannabinoids.
- Eat a high fiber diet
- Increase water intake
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce stress
- Practice meditation
Holistic approaches together with cannabis supplements can help boost the ECS and your quality of life.
Many of the concepts presented here are included in our Autoimmune program which will quickly guide you with a recorded lecture, slides, and references.
→ If you’d like to book a personal 1:1 coaching appointment we have nurses who can help you TODAY!
Life is too short to not feel good, and a strong healthy gut is key to health and happiness – along with a great immune system.
Take good care of your GI system and see how the rest of Life falls into place.
Happy Spring and enjoy the flowers outside and your GI flora inside!
Cheers from the Holistic Caring Team