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How Does Medical Cannabis Approach IBS Pain?

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IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is a long-term and challenging condition that affects over 5-10% of individuals around the world. Pain is a prominent irritable bowel syndrome symptomOver 3 out of 4 people suffering from IBS report frequent or continuous abdominal pain

Let us understand more about IBS pain and manage it with medical cannabis-based medicines.

Understanding IBS Pain

Pain is the primary factor that makes IBS severe in people and the major reason why patients seek medical help. Moreover, this pain disrupts the bowel movements and causes conditions like diarrhea, constipation, or both.

The chronic abdominal pain occurring in IBS is not a consequence of an obvious damage/injury to the body. Rather, in the case of IBS, the brain mistakenly interprets some signals from the gut as pain sensations. 

After receiving those signals, the brain modifies them to increase or reduce pain perception. It is because when the pain signals travel from different body parts to the brain, they have to pass through the spinal cord, which acts as a gateway for them. 

The brain can open this gate to increase the flow of signals and worsen the abdominal pain, or close the gate and block the pain perception. Thus, people with IBS become hypersensitive to external stimuli, i.e., they feel more pain from things that are not as painful for others.

Even normal amounts of gas and intestinal movement can cause severe IBS pain. Because they can trigger the pain-sensing nerve receptors in the intestines more than usual. The brain becomes sensitive and thus, starts overreacting to even mild and non-harmful activities such as eating food, digestion, and normal bowel movements. 

This is why the abdominal pain in IBS patients usually lasts longer and is likely to become chronic. Moreover, Factors like stress, irregular eating habits, intense exercising, and excess spicy/fatty/oily foods can also trigger and worsen IBS pain. 

Pain Characteristics and Location

IBS patients feel pain in different forms, like

  • Sharp,
  • Stabbing,
  • Throbbing,
  • Painful spasms,
  • Cramping, and
  • Continuous aching.

This pain can range from mild to severe and crippling. For some, this pain comes and goes. For others, it never stops. Sometimes, IBS patients might find it hard to plan their daily activities because the pain intensity varies multiple times throughout the day or in a few days.

IBS pain can occur in different locations in the body:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen often happens with bloating and worsens after having meals. 
  • That in the middle abdomen is characterized by cramping around the belly button. 
  • Pain in the lower abdomen is more common among patients and is usually reduced after a bowel movement. (Sometimes, bowel movements can worsen the pain in IBS patients.)
  • IBS patients also experience pain in their chest and back due to trapped gas and/or spasms. As per a study, between 68-81% of IBS patients feel back pain.
  • IBS-associated constipation can cause hemorrhoids and anal fissures, leading to anal/rectal pain.

As per a study, IBS patients are 60% more likely to experience migraine and 40% more likely to suffer from depression than people without IBS. This is because the digestive system and the brain are connected through the gut-brain axis. This axis is made of several nerves from the brain connecting to the gut and sending signals in both directions.

Managing IBS Pain

The common prescription medication for IBS pain include NSAIDs, antidepressants, anticholinergics, antibiotics, opioids, and other specific drugs that target the gut to reduce the condition’s overall symptoms. 

Since IBS pain is a brain-gut condition, doctors prescribe cognitive therapies, relaxation therapies, hypnosis, and other psychological techniques alongside traditional pain medications. These treatment methods and medications have severe side effects on the gut and the brain.

 They often worsen the condition and its symptoms. Moreover, they increase the risks of worse health problems occurring in the future, like damage to vital organs, including the heart, brain, liver, etc. 

This is why medical experts and Ayurveda doctors today prescribe medical cannabis-based medicines (Vijaya) to help manage IBS. 

Why Choose Vijaya For IBS?

Vijaya is an effective medication for IBS because instead of targeting the digestive organs affected by IBS, the herb directly influences the body’s ECS. Moreover, the medicines derived from this herb consist of natural ingredients. Hence, it is safe for consumption and does not cause any severe side effects on health, unlike conventional drugs. 

As per a 2020 study, targeting the ECS is an effective way of alleviating IBS. The ECS, or the Endocannabinoid system, is a crucial biological system that regulates all the important bodily functions, such as 

  • Digestion,
  • Metabolism,
  • Immunity,
  • Nervous system response,
  • Mood,
  • Pain and Inflammation,
  • Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, and
  • Cognitive functions.

It further controls gut balance (homeostasis) and the overall well-being of the body. Its CB1 cannabinoid receptors are located in the cells lying on the intestines’ surface and the gut’s nervous system.

Medical cannabis-based medicines have hundreds of chemical compounds called cannabinoids in them. When consumed, they activate those CB1 receptors in the gut. These activated receptors then reduce the production of the chemical compound called acetylcholine, in the gut. This is the compound responsible for severe pain and cramping among IBS patients. 

The activated receptors help the herb regulate digestive functions in individuals and help the food pass better through the digestive tract. They also help the gut better communicate with the brain and strengthen the nerves that connect both the regions through the gut-brain axis.

 This prevents the brain from misinterpreting the gut signals as pain sensations and reduces the risk of miscommunication among them in the future.

Another major type of cannabinoid receptor in the ECS is CB2. These receptors are mostly found in the immune cells of the intestines. By activating the CB2 receptors, Vijaya helps slow down the movement of food inside the gut. This allows the body to properly digest the food instead of letting it out sooner and alleviates conditions like diarrhea and indigestion.

Moreover, activated CB2 receptors decrease the production of cytokine and chemokine cells in the intestinal immune system. These are the cells that are responsible for inflammation in the gut. This is the reason why medical cannabis-based medicines have a robust anti-inflammatory property besides being effective pain-reducers.

Alleviating Stress

Excess stress in early life is a major cause of IBS. Because of the gut-brain axis, the slightest of troubles in the brain affects the gut and vice versa. Stress not only causes IBS but also creates a deficiency (CED) of endocannabinoids in the ECS. This causes severe damage to the digestive function of the body. 

When IBS patients consume Vijaya, it activates the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. As a result, it effectively alleviates conditions like stress, depression, and anxiety among the patients. Not only that, but the herb also provides the ECS with an ample supply of cannabinoids to help it work efficiently in the future.

To know more about IBS pain and how you can effectively manage it with medical cannabis-based medicinescontact Hempstreet and get the right consultation from the best Ayurvedic doctors for yourself.

References

https://aboutibs.org/treatment/understanding-and-managing-pain-in-ibs/

https://www.verywellhealth.com/ibs-pain-locations-1945305

https://www.mindsethealth.com/matter/ibs-pain-guide

https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/health-management/cannabis-probiotics-and-more-what-works-best-for-ibs

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7186328/

https://www.bestgastromd.com/blog/how-medical-marijuana-is-helping-relieve-abdominal-pain-for-ibs-patients

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