Life is hard enough without having to deal with a gut that is painful and inconsistent. Millions of people suffer from stomach and intestinal issues. A bad diet, stress, and heavy workload can all be contributors to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Once the gut gets out of whack, it can be difficult getting it working correctly again. Unfortunately, many people deal with IBS, which can interfere with daily life.
What Is IBS?
IBS is when a person experiences problems with digestion and bowel movements. Symptoms can vary from one person to the next. The most common IBS symptoms include cramping, bloating, diarrhea, gas, and constipation. There also may be changes in the appearance of bowel movements, and how often they occur. For some, it can be diarrhea, and for others, it can be experienced as constipation.
While having gas, constipation, diarrhea, cramping, or bloating are occurrences that everyone experiences from time to time, for those suffering from IBS, some of these can be an almost constant condition.
What Causes IBS?
Poor diet choices can often be a contributing factor for IBS. Stress has been shown to cause digestive issues. Those that have suffered early life stress seem to have IBS more than others.
When you have changes in the gut caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses, and the natural flora of the digestive tract becomes out of balance, it can cause IBS. A bout of diarrhea can also bring it on. IBS is often caused by a viral or bacterial infection.
The intestinal walls are lined with muscle. The muscles contract as food is moved through the digestive tract. When these contractions last longer than normal, it can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea. When intestinal contractions are weak, it can slow the passing of food, causing dry stool and constipation.
Lastly, the nerves in the digestive system can cause discomfort when the abdomen stretches because of gas or stool. Signals between the brain and intestines may cause the body to overreact to changes that are normal in the digestive process. This can lead to pain, diarrhea, or constipation. All of these symptoms are reported by the Mayo Clinic.
How Is IBS Diagnosed And Treated?
Although it might seem that IBS would be simple to diagnose, it often is not. There are many variables to consider, and there could be a more serious underlying condition. A doctor will go over your medical history, do a physical examination, and perhaps run tests to rule out a more severe ailment. Indicators of something more severe than IBS can include weight loss, the onset of the condition after the age of 50, rectal bleeding, fever, anemia, nausea, and vomiting. If you have these severe symptoms, a doctor might do a colonoscopy, CT scan, X-ray, or upper endoscopy.
Once a more serious condition has been ruled out, IBS might be something that some people must learn to live with, since there is no specific cure. However, there are things to be done to help reduce symptoms. A person may have to avoid certain foods that trigger symptoms. Drinking plenty of fluid and eating high-fiber foods is essential. Getting enough good sleep can help.
Can Cannabis Oil Help Manage IBS?
Cannabis oil is thought to help relieve the symptoms of many different conditions, including IBS. Cannabis oil includes two of the most effective and most known cannabinoids: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD and THC are beneficial for treating pain, nausea, inflammation, stress, anxiety, and even PTSD. Many of these conditions are associated with IBS.
Research is being conducted to determine how medical marijuana products like cannabis oil can help IBS. There is some evidence that shows the cannabinoids help limit intestinal inflammation. Those that have IBS are believed to have higher levels of cannabinoid receptors in the colon.
Is Hemp Oil The Same As Cannabis Oil?
No, it's not. Hemp oil is not illegal on a federal level. The main cannabinoid in hemp oil is CBD, which doesn't give you the euphoric effects, or the 'high' of THC. For hemp oil to be legal as laid out in the 2018 Farm Bill, it must contain 0.3% THC or less.
Cannabis oil contains more than 0.3% THC, and may very well get you high. However, THC is thought to deliver benefits for those suffering from many conditions. It has been shown in some studies that CBD and THC work better together than alone. This is referred to as the entourage effect.
If you live in a state where marijuana has been legalized for recreational use, you'll have no problem obtaining good, lab-tested cannabis oil. If you're not in a state where cannabis products are legal for adult use, look into whether or not a medical marijuana program exists. If so, you will have to see a doctor and get a recommendation for medical marijuana to treat your IBS. A certificate or card is issued to those that are approved to use cannabis products. Conditions approved for medical marijuana programs can vary from state to state.
For more information on state laws governing medical and adult-use cannabis, go to NORML.org.