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
- spinal cord injuries
- Metabolic and endocrine conditions
- poor glycemic control hypothyroidism
- Systemic disorders
- 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
Updated on April 13, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Throughout thousands of years and human cultures, people have been using cannabis in medicinal ways — and modern science today is confirming its positive effects on many health conditions and treatment side effects, constipation included. And, while people mistake the herb as nothing more than a way to get “high,” science is convincing lawmakers, health care professionals and laypeople in increasing numbers of its medicinal properties.
How and Why Marijuana Can Be an Effective Treatment for the Side Effects of Constipation
While countless studies have shown medical marijuana can be an effective treatment for constipation, you should take note cannabis can affect the digestive system in both positive and negative ways. Marijuana use can sometimes lead to digestive problems and constipation in some cases. Typically, this event only affects those who use the herb heavily and regularly for several years.
Medical Marijuana as a Laxative
One of the treatment lines for constipation is natural and medicinal laxatives. Laxatives work in several ways. They can spur the movement of fecal matter through the bowel. They can also soften and loosen difficult-to-pass fecal matter. Laxatives are usually taken as a suppository or orally. At their most effective, they work by clearing the intestines and bowels, thereby relieving constipation.
Research reveals medical marijuana can treat digestive disorders, including constipation. Constipation can also be caused by digestive disorders treated with medical marijuana. Furthermore, medical marijuana can substitute or reduce the dosage of certain medications causing constipation, such as opiates. This indicates medical marijuana may not only treat constipation itself, but some underlying causes.
According to Medical Marijuana: The Conflict Between Scientific Evidence and Political Ideology by Peter J. Cohen, one of the earliest examples of marijuana as medicine for constipation comes from China, around 2700 BCE.
Of course, several thousand years have passed since then, and we have seen marijuana be touted as a cure for numerous conditions. While the evidence that marijuana can aid in bowel movements is largely anecdotal, much of it stems from the attestation of recreational and medical marijuana users.
Marijuana to Prevent Constipation
Constipation comes and goes, even in those with chronic constipation. Once medication, food or the body helps hard or large feces to pass, your constipation resolves. However, it typically comes back. Healthy individuals who do not suffer from chronic irregularity will likely have the condition again as well, but it will not be as resistant to treatment as in those with chronic constipation.
Individuals who have chronic problems moving their bowels, are taking medication causing constipation or have a condition making being bound up more likely can take certain measures, such as increased fiber intake, to prevent their irregularity.
A University of California, San Francisco study found pain sufferers on opiate pain medications were able to reduce their doses if they coupled their medication with medical marijuana. This decreases the potential for side effects, such as constipation, while on the drug. Furthermore, research into marijuana as a treatment for digestive disorders has shown receptors reacting to the components in marijuana in the human digestive system.
Though we have some proof medical cannabis can positively affect digestive symptoms, we still need further research to uncover all of the components of medical marijuana affecting the evacuation of fecal matter and digestion.
What Side Effects and Symptoms of Constipation Can Medical Marijuana Treat?
Symptoms cannabis and constipation treatment can help with include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain or a swollen abdomen
- Trouble having bowel movements
- Chronic pain
- Sleep problems
The anti-emetic properties of medical weed may alleviate constipation of intestinal reflexes. Constipation relief was among the initial marijuana indications ancient Chinese emperor Shen-Nung cited 5,000 years ago. Since then, historical medical references have included marijuana’s constipation relief observations.
Opiates, such as morphine and Vicodin, often cause severe constipation. Marijuana for constipation can help your pain, without causing severe binding as opiates do. Opioid-related constipation has become such a prevalent issue that pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca invested in an expensive Super Bowl ad spotpromoting prescription medication to relieve it. A 2014 study released by the Journal of the American Medical Association found consuming medical pot reduced opiate-related overdose deaths.
Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Constipation Symptoms and Side Effects
Each of us has experienced constipation at one time or another in our lives. We know being bound up sure doesn’t feel good, and we are always seeking ways to relieve ourselves of the condition. Using medical marijuana can help to relax your bowel muscles so you can pass your stool easily.
Constipation does a lot more to your body than simply bind you up, though. As you’ve read, it can cause a range of other symptoms like the ones below — and luckily, specific marijuana strains can help with each of these discomforts. Let’s take a look.
- Pain: Marijuana for constipation is a natural pain reliever. Many people consume it to address their daily chronic pain. Whether you’re struggling with chronic constipation pain or abdominal pain, some good pain-relieving strains you can try include Girl Scout Cookies (hybrid), White Widow (hybrid) and Jack Herer (Sativa).
- Nausea and vomiting: A popular medical use of medical weed is to treat nausea. Strains you may want to try for nausea and vomiting include Northern Lights (Indica), Lavender (hybrid) and White Fire OG (hybrid).
- Depression and anxiety: Let’s face it,when you’re dealing with chronic constipation, you’ll feel stressed. Stress can lead to anxiety. When stressed, you experience a decrease in your endocannabinoid production relating directly to your cognition, emotion, and behavior.
Interestingly, when you introduce supplemental cannabinoids into your system, you reduce your symptoms of depression and anxiety. Relieve your anxiety and depression with strains like Blue Dream (hybrid), Sour Grape (hybrid) and Lemon Skunk (Sativa-dominant hybrid).
- Sleep problems: Medical cannabis for constipation also helps you not only fall asleep more quickly, but provides a long, deep, restful night of sleep. The key here is to find the best-working strain for you. Some great insomnia strains include Kryptonite (Indica-dominant hybrid), Granddaddy Purple (Indica) and Skywalker OG (Indica-dominant hybrid).
Best Methods of Marijuana Treatment for the Side Effects of Constipation
You can take your marijuana and constipation therapy in multiple ways.
- Juicing: Since you need to increase your fluid intake when you’re constipated, juicing your marijuana makes perfect sense. Now, you can make your own homemade cannabis laxative. Add 10 to 15 grams of marijuana seed into your food processor or blender. Gradually drizzle in good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, then add the fruit of your choice and Meyer lemon zest.
- Smoking or vaporizing: Vaporizing or smoking marijuana can help relax your bowels. When you smoke cannabis, it produces instant results, typically in under two minutes. You can find herbal extracts with hemp seed oil laxative products.
- Other methods: Edibles, tinctures, suppositories, transdermal patches, topicals, and sublingual sprays are other methods to take marijuana. Speak to your marijuana doctor or budtender at your dispensary to see if any other cannabis and constipation methods may be beneficial for you.
How to Get Medical Marijuana for Constipation Relief
Whether you’re an inexperienced cannabis user or have been using the herb for years, medical marijuana has only recently become legal in many states. While you may already know all the amazing benefits of the herb, you may be confused on how to obtain it legally.
Your first step is to take a look at the abundant resources we provided for you at MarijuanaDoctors.com. For instance, you can search for a cannabis dispensary or find a medical marijuana doctor. You’ll then go through a series of steps to get your marijuana card so you can shop for your desired constipation-relief strain.
What Is Constipation?
When you have three or fewer bowel movements each week, you are said to have constipation, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Your stool can be dry and hard when you’re irregular, and you can have pain while trying to pass them. Everyone struggles with constipation from time to time. Typically, it’s not severe and only lasts a brief period.
You can prevent constipation in a variety of ways, including:
- Drinking a lot of water.
- Eating more grains, fruits, and vegetables that are rich in fiber.
- Having a bowel movement when needed.
- Getting plenty of exercise.
- Avoiding medications causing constipation.
- Using laxatives only under a doctor’s advice.
Each person varies on the timeframe between their bowel movements. While some individuals have three bowel movements a day, others only have them one or two times a week. When you go more than a few days without having one, it’s essentially too long. Your stool will likely get hard and become more of a challenge to pass.
Even though constipation is usually not serious, when your bowel movements are regular, you’ll feel much better.
Types of Constipation
There are three primary types of constipation. These are:
- Atonic constipation — With this kind of constipation, you don’t have enough intestinal muscle tone. Poor health habits are typically the cause, and include things like not drinking enough water, not eating enough fiber and not exercising.
- Obstructive constipation — You have an actual physical obstruction causing constipation. You will require treatment for this type of constipation.
- Spastic constipation — Irritation of your intestines or bowel causes this constipation type. You’ll most likely need to eat a low-fiber diet. Sometimes, spastic constipation is a symptom of a condition called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
History of Constipation
Since ancient times, people viewed defecation as one facet of a person’s body needing attentive control to protect their health. But the 2002 book Inner Hygiene, by James Whorton, suggests the Industrial Revolution and improvements in public health from the mid-19th century led to the increase in medical concern with bodily waste disposal.
By approximately 1900 to 1920, society had generated a hypothesis that constipation allowed poisons to build up in the body — thus leading to an outright obsession to avoid constipation. In 1909, Arbuthnot Lane even went so far as to suggest colon removal as a cure for constipation and all its accompanying ills.
Effects of Constipation
Constipation, particularly chronic constipation, has both physical and mental effects.
The physical signs and symptoms of chronic constipation include:
- Passing fewer than three stools each week.
- Having to strain to have a bowel movement.
- Having hard, dry or lumpy stools.
- Feeling like you can’t empty your feces completely from your rectum.
- Feeling like you have a blockage in your rectum keeping you from having a bowel movement.
- Requiring help to empty your rectum, like having to press down on your abdomen with your hands or having to insert your finger into your rectum to remove stool.
- Regularly using laxatives or enemas to eliminate built-up feces.
If you’ve been experiencing more than two of the above symptoms for several months, your constipation is likely chronic.
The Brain/Gut Connection
Although constipation usually produces physical effects on your body, it may also bring on adverse psychological side effects, too. Believe it or not, constipation may also affect your mood.
Your brain directly affects your stomach. For instance, just the thought of eating can trigger the release of your stomach juices before you even swallow your first bite of food. This affiliation, however, can go both ways. If your intestine is having problems, it also sends signals to your brain — just like your brain would send signals to your gut when having issues.
Therefore, your intestinal and stomach distress could either be the cause or the effect of stress, anxiety or depression. This is because your gastrointestinal system and brain connect intimately. Chronic constipation may produce a recurrent effect of depression and anxiety. For some people, their anxiety and depression cause their chronic constipation — and for others, it’s the other way around.
Researchers have studied the essential role of psychological factors concerning adults with constipation. For instance, constipated adults in the studies had greater psychological distress than those without constipation. In fact, there’s a 65 percent rate of psychological impairment in patients with constipation. Of the many emotional side effects, the most prevalent are pain, depression, and anxiety disorders. Constipated patients also report social dysfunction and somatization — which is the result of psychological concerns expressing themselves as physical symptoms.
Constipation statistics reported by the National Center for Biotechnology Information include:
- Chronic constipation may affect from 2 to 27 percent of the population.
- Estimate of chronic constipation incidence ranges from 1 to 8 percent of the U.S. population, according to one study.
- Another study estimates constipation to affect up to 20 percent of the U.S. population.
Current Treatments Available for Constipation and Their Side Effects
The treatment you receive for your constipation depends on its duration, severity, and cause. Other factors could come into play, including whether you have health issues, take medications or eat a low-fiber diet. Your doctor will evaluate your situation to devise a treatment plan tailored specifically to your case.
Some treatment options may include:
Dietary and Lifestyle Changes
When you lack fiber in your diet, it often causes constipation. Adults should get around 25 to 38 grams of fiber every day, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Getting proper amounts of fiber through consuming whole-grain cereals, beans, fruits, vegetables, and bread can help ease constipation.
Drinking water and other healthy beverages regularly is also helpful for constipation relief, since liquids can assist fiber in maintaining regularity more effectively, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Other changes in your lifestyle can help prevent or relieve constipation, including:
- Having your bowel movement each day as close to the same time as possible, such as 30 minutes after you eat breakfast, since you stimulate colon activity when you eat.
- Not ignoring the urge to go to the bathroom.
- Exercising regularly.
- Making enough time to have your bowel movement.
If you can’t adequately relieve your constipation through lifestyle and dietary changes alone, taking laxatives orally or rectally could help. It’s prudent to speak to your doctor first before taking laxatives.
Laxatives commonly used for constipation include:
- Saline and osmotic laxatives draw in more water to your stool and intestines. Examples include Cephulac, Miralax and Milk of Magnesia.
- Bulk-forming laxatives help absorb intestinal fluid. Examples are FiberCon, Citrucel, and Metamucil.
- Stool softeners help reduce the strain of your bowel movements by moistening your stool. Examples are Surfak or Colace.
- Lubricants grease your stool, allowing it to move better through your intestines. Examples are Zymenol or Fleet — mineral oil.
- Stimulant laxatives cause your intestinal muscles to contract. Examples are Correctol, Dulcolax, and Senokot.
Common side effects of laxatives include:
- Stomach and abdominal cramps
If your chronic constipation is due to IBS, your physician might prescribe you other medications like lubiprostone —the chloride channel activator Amitiza — or linaclotide — the guanylate cyclase-C agonist Linzess.
Side effects of these types of medications may include:
- Abdominal or stomach discomfort or pain
Surgery and Other Procedures
If a bowel obstruction is the cause of your chronic constipation, your physician might suggest surgery or another procedure to treat the condition.
Rectal prolapse is a potential complication of constipation. It occurs when a section of your rectum is sticking out of your anus, which blocks your ability to have a bowel movement and empty your bowels. You may require surgery to correct rectal prolapse.
Side effects of rectal prolapse surgery may include:
- Bowel obstruction
- Narrowing of your anal opening
- Damage to organs, nerves and other nearby structures
- Recurrence of rectal prolapse
If you have a condition called colonic inertia where your colon muscles aren’t working properly, a surgeon may have to remove your colon.
Side effects of this surgery may include:
- Blood clots in your lungs or legs
- Reactions to anesthesia
- Internal bleeding
- A leak in the area where your intestines are stitched together
- Adhesions, or scar tissue in your stomach blocking your intestines
Sometimes, a dysfunction of your anorectal muscles may cause chronic constipation. Your physician may suggest biofeedback, which is a procedure where the doctor uses sensors to monitor muscle activity. Through biofeedback, you may be able to retrain your anorectal muscles to work correctly.
See how medical marijuana could help relieve your constipation. Research reveals medical marijuana can treat digestive disorders, including constipation.