Clinical studies on the effect of cannabis on gastric health and gastric acid secretion, are lacking. In a study with 90 human volunteers, smoking cannabis for more than 2 days a week was associated with low gastric acid output.
However, preclinical studies have suggested the inhibition of gastric acid secretion by cannabis or individual cannabinoids. In rat models, administration of an ethanol extract of cannabis raised gastric pH, and treatment with synthetic cannabinoid agonists inhibited gastric acid secretion in rat preparations.
Research with isolated mouse stomachs showed that the CB1 receptors might play a role in reducing gastric acid. Overall, the data from these studies suggest that using synthetic cannabinoids or cannabis rich in THC could help decrease gastric acid secretion.
Understanding Cannabis and its Effects on the Body
Cannabis is a drug that is used illegally all over the world. There are two popular usages of cannabis: marijuana and hashish. Marijuana is made from the dried parts of the female Cannabis sativa plant and hashish is made by drying the resin of the cannabis plant and compressing the flowers.
Research on cannabis has led to the discovery of its active compounds, called cannabinoids, of which over 70 have been isolated. The most well-known cannabinoid is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the psychotropic effects of recreational cannabis.
Cannabinoids interact with cannabinoid receptors in the body, which are part of the G protein-coupled receptor family. There are two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1, mostly found in the central nervous system but also in some peripheral tissues, and CB2, found mostly in the periphery, especially on immune cells. Most of the effects of cannabis on the central nervous system are mediated by CB1 receptors.
The body also has its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, which activate the cannabinoid receptors. The two main endocannabinoids are arachidonoyl ethanolamide (anandamide) and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG). These compounds, along with the receptors and the enzymes that produce and break them down, make up the endocannabinoid system.
Recently, cannabis and cannabinoid-based medicines have gained attention as treatment options for various medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis, nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, and weight loss from HIV infection and cancer. The endocannabinoid system is also being explored as a target for the treatment of neurological disorders.
Cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids have been found in the gastrointestinal tract and play a role in several gut functions, such as controlling acid secretion and gut motility. This suggests that cannabinoid-based medicines might be beneficial for certain gastrointestinal disorders.
Gastric Health and Cannabis: What We Know So Far
There are different things that control how much of this acid gets made, like your nerves, hormones, and other chemicals in your body.
There are also cells in your stomach that make the acid, called parietal cells. They respond to different signals like a chemical called acetylcholine or a hormone called gastrin. When these signals are sent, the cells make more acid.
But what does this have to do with cannabis? It turns out that cannabis and some of its chemicals, called cannabinoids, might be able to stop your stomach from making too much acid. Scientists have found cannabinoid receptors in the stomach, as well as in some of the nerves and cells that control acid production. They think that cannabis might be able to stop acid production by directly affecting these receptors.
THC is a type of cannabinoid that’s found in the central nervous system, which controls many important functions in your body, and it can even cross the barrier between your blood and brain. Some studies suggest that THC’s ability to stop nausea and vomiting might be because it works on cannabinoid receptors in a part of your brain called the dorsal vagal complex.
But other research has shown that when synthetic cannabinoids were used in the central nervous system, they didn’t stop stomach acid production. This means that the effect of cannabinoids on gastric acid secretion might be happening somewhere else in the body, not just in the brain.
So, what does all of this mean? Right now, we’re still figuring out how cannabis and cannabinoids affect stomach acid. But it’s interesting to think about how these substances might be able to help control some of our digestive problems.
Protective Effect of Cannabis and Cannabinoids on Gastric Health
Several preclinical studies have shown that cannabis or cannabinoids have a protective effect on the stomach. In rats, THC given through subcutaneous or oral routes inhibited the development of gastric ulcers caused by pyloric ligation, with the greatest protection seen through subcutaneous administration. THC also decreased gastric juice volume but had no effect on acidity.
A study by De Souza et al. found that treatment with a cannabis extract protected rats against restraint-induced ulcers. When given a one-time treatment, the group that got the highest dose (60mg/kg) had fewer injuries compared to the group without any treatment. However, chronic treatment with cannabis showed no protection and even caused ulceration in unrestrained rats.
Studies have shown that THC can protect the stomach lining from damage caused by certain pain medicines. When THC was given before taking these medicines, it helped to reduce the damage to the stomach. This protective effect was found to be caused by THC working with your CB1 receptors.
A study showed that giving rats a lot of THC over a long period of time helped reduce damage to their stomachs caused by harmful chemicals. Even after giving the rats THC for a long time, it still worked to protect their stomachs.
Another study found that chemicals similar to THC, called synthetic cannabinoids, can also protect the stomach. One of these chemicals, called WIN55, 212-2, was shown to help reduce stomach ulcers in rats that were stressed. But, a substance that blocks the effects of THC canceled out this protection.
How Cannabis Protects Your Stomach
Cannabis and some of its compounds, called cannabinoids, can help keep your stomach safe from harm. Researchers think there are several ways that this happens:
Cannabis and some cannabinoids can reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes, which helps to keep it from causing harm to the stomach lining.
Cannabis also makes your stomach produce more mucus, which is a slimy substance that helps protect the lining of your stomach from acid and other harmful things.
Cannabis can also reduce the amount of a digestive enzyme called pepsin, which can dissolve mucus and make your stomach more vulnerable to other harmful things.
Reactive oxygen compounds can cause damage to the stomach lining, but cannabis has been shown to have antioxidant properties, which means it can help protect your stomach from these harmful compounds.
Inflammation can also cause damage to your stomach lining, but cannabis has been shown to reduce inflammation in the stomach, which can help keep it healthy.
It’s important to note that these protective effects of cannabis have only been seen when the stomach has been exposed to harmful substances like acid or alcohol. Under normal conditions, cannabis doesn’t seem to have a big effect on the stomach.
Another factor that affects how well your stomach can handle harmful substances is the blood flow to the stomach lining. Some studies have shown that compounds in cannabis can increase blood flow to the stomach, which can help protect it from harm.
Conclusion: Discoveries on Gastric Health
Cannabis and its compounds can protect the stomach against harmful injury. It does this by reducing the amount of stomach acid produced, increasing the amount of mucus in the stomach, and working as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It’s also possible that cannabis helps improve blood flow to the stomach, which can also help protect it.
Overall, research has shown that using cannabis or its compounds might be useful in treating stomach problems like ulcers and acid reflux. But it’s important to note that more research is needed to fully understand how cannabis works in the stomach and how it can be used as a treatment.