Pain in the gastrointestinal tract is difficult to manage at its best and severely debilitating at its worst. Whether it’s a tummy ache, bowel problems, or a serious medical condition, GI pain is at least distracting for most.
GI pain, or abdominal pain, is related to the stomach, GI tract-related organs, and a variety of gastrointestinal disorders, or just eating too much, spicy or acidic foods. A less common GI disorder is a condition known as centrally mediated abdominal pain syndrome, or CAPS, in which patients experience altered sensitivity to nerve impulses in the gut and brain.
Parts of the brain that perceive abdominal pain are associated with [nociception], perceiving localized pain messages, and also emotion and memory. This suggests that emotions related to memories of abdominal pain, and anything else we experience, are remembered in the brain when we experience it again, and the remembering of past experiences and emotions, reinforces our present perception of pain, and other sensations, in our present experience.
Dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome and Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction is all functional problems that cause moderate abdominal pain. Certain cancers cause abdominal pain, as well as vascular problems, and inflammatory conditions in the bowel, urinary tract, and pelvis.
The GI pain that CAPS patients suffer is different than this though. Their pain is not related to any obvious physiological events like eating or defecating. It is related to altered homeostatic reflex activity and altered perception. Research suggests that chronic abdominal pain syndrome is almost certainly a developmental disorder, meaning that they first manifest in some form early in life, and the expression of which may vary throughout life.
In the most severe cases, surgeons may need to operate in order to save a person’s life. These patients may have GI pain as a result of something more serious. Surgery may also be needed for structural repair from damage to muscles and organs of the GI tract. Most GI pain goes untreated or is self-diagnosed, and many who don’t see a doctor could have worse conditions than they think, like ulcers or IBD. Millions are turning to antacids, or PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors), to temporarily relieve some pressure and pain, but long-term use of the drugs may prove to be deadly.
These drugs are only recommended for short periods, but recent studies suggest that they may be linked to vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, which leads to more serious conditions. Recent studies on over 74,000 Germans found that regular PPI users have a 44 percent higher risk of dementia than those not taking PPIs. Another study spanning over 20 years and 10,000 participants showed that those who took PPIs had a 20 to 50 percent higher risk of chronic kidney disease than those who didn’t.
Many physicians may prescribe patients antibiotics depending on their symptoms and condition. However, recent data from the CDC cites that a third of prescriptions for antibiotics are unnecessary. Overusing them undermines their ability to fight life-threatening conditions because it creates an environment in which drug-resistant bacteria and viruses can thrive, leaving patients vulnerable to deadly infections.
Over-the-counter pain relievers are not recommended to treat GI pain, as their use causes ulcers and increased risk of heart failure. Some patients even resort to opioid painkillers and benzodiazepine drugs to treat pain, but these too can lead to addiction and dependence. According to the CDC, in 2014, almost 2 million people in the U.S. abused or were addicted to prescription opioids, and 1 in 4 people who were prescribed opioids for noncancer pain struggled with their dependency of the drugs. They also cite more than 15,000 deaths from overdoses involving prescription opioids, in 2015 alone.
Various systems of the body are involved in the way that we sense and perceive pain from the abdomen, stomach, and GI tract. The compounds derived from cannabis are able to bind with specialized [receptors] in our bodies that are responsible for modulating many bodily functions, including the ways in which we experience pain.
An extensive paper on the role of the [endocannabinoid] system in acute and chronic pain management, presented by lead author Dr. J. Manzanares in Current Neuropharmacology, refers to various studies that give evidence to the therapeutic applications of marijuana. In one study, smoking cannabis not only helped stopped spasms from multiple sclerosis but also halted the progression of the disease.
Dr. Manzanares goes on to cite studies showing that cannabis may be superior to opioids in alleviating intractable pathologic pain problems. He also lists evidence proving its antiemetic, or nausea alleviating, properties, which is commonly known. Cannabis’s ability to activate endogenous cells that modulate nociception and immunological responses is the reason why it can effectively treat many different symptoms of neuropathic and inflammatory pain.
[CBD], another active compound in cannabis, is also known to produce analgesia, anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, and antioxidant properties. Unlike THC, CBD is able to do so without unwanted psychoactive effects and can actually counter the psychotropic effects of THC.
It’s important to note that, in long-term cannabis users, stopping use has, in a few rare cases, been associated with cyclical vomiting disorders. Further research is needed to clarify the correlation. You can find more research and information about the condition, cannabinoid hyperemesis, here.
Cannabis will affect individuals uniquely depending on a variety of factors. GI pain that persists may be a sign of something more serious. Consult with a physician and medical marijuana professional about how cannabis may be able to help with symptoms of GI and abdominal pain. Linked below are cannabis strains reported to alleviate pain and stomach problems.
· [[Alien Dawg]]
· [[Alien Kush]]
· [[Alien OG]]
· [[Animal Cookies]]
· [[Berry Bomb]]
· [[Black Cherry Soda]]
· [[Black Domina]]
· [[Black Mamba]]
· [[Blue Crack]]
· [[Blue Dragon]]
· [[Blue Goo]]
· [[Blue OG]]
· [[Blueberry Headband]]
· [[Bruce Banner]]
· [[Bubba Kush]]
Manzanares J. (2006) Current Neuropharmacology. Role of the Cannabinoid System in Pain Control and Therapeutic Implications for the Management of Acute and Chronic Pain Episodes