It seems there is nothing cannabis can’t do. It is recognized as an all-natural remedy for stress, insomnia, and some serious diseases. A new study shows cannabis can benefit gut and bladder health. But too much can have detrimental effects.

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What Studies Show Cannabis Can Benefit Gut and Bladder Health?

The latest news is based on research conducted by Timmen L. Cermak, MD, a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction medicine.

Cannabis can benefit gut and bladder health. It has been used for ages to reduce cramps and diarrhea. The science behind it involves the cannabinoid receptors smoothing the muscles in the intestine. The receptors reduce movement in the gut that’s causing discomfort.

Cermak made the scientific connection while treating a patient who had been smoking marijuana daily for decades. The woman went to see Cermak to deal with issues she was having with her daughter, but she also discussed her digestive issues. She had not had a spontaneous bowel movement in years and relied on coffee enemas for regularity.

The doctor dove into the rabbit hole and found research showing that cannabis receptors in the gut reduce contractions by inhibiting the release of acetylcholine by the parasympathetic nervous system. So, while the reduction in contractions can be beneficial in treating cramps and diarrhea, extreme use can interfere with bowel movements.

Cermak recommended that the woman stop using cannabis for a few months. After seeking further medical advice, she spent three months in a treatment center. The doctor assumed she needed that amount of time to heal due to her fat cells becoming saturated with THC lipids.

As an aside, she eventually recovered. Her relationship with her daughter improved too, but the damage had been done.

Cannabis Can Benefit Gut and Bladder Health But Can Cause Urinary Retention

Cannabis can benefit gut and bladder health. But excessive use can cause unpleasant side effects. One is urinary retention.

Cermak returned to his research on how cannabis can benefit gut and bladder health when a patient mentioned developing urinary retention due to years of cannabis use.

The doctor went back down the rabbit hole. This time he found a study of 630 multiple sclerosis patients with incontinence. It revealed that 38% of participants improved their bladder control with cannabis use. THC alone reduced incontinence episodes by 33% suggesting a broad-spectrum combination with CBD and CBN might be more effective.

So, if cannabis can treat incontinence in some, it can cause urinary retention in people without the condition.

As with gut health, improvements in incontinence and urinary retention occur due to cannabis receptor activity. The receptors thrive in the smooth detrusor muscle fibers that surround the bladder.

The muscle is typically relaxed to allow the bladder to fill. The parasympathetic nerve must activate for the bladder to empty. The neurotransmitter acetylcholine is needed in the process.

THC activates cannabinoid receptors that control nerves near the bladder reducing the amount of acetylcholine that is released. This activity calms the bladder leading to urinary retention in some and a reduction of incontinence in others.  

If urinary retention becomes so severe that the bladder does not empty within a few hours, it will be a medical emergency.

Why is Too Much Bad?

Cannabis can benefit gut and bladder health, but only when consumed in moderation. While some cannabis can help with incontinence and relieve digestive issues, too much of the plant leads to urinary retention and constipation. So why are excessive doses bad?

Cermak researched the issues and found evidence suggesting that higher concentrations activate TRPV1 receptors which regulate temperature, acidity, and anandamide production. Anandamide plays a role in mood, appetite, memory, and fertility.

The doctor is not clear on the connection, but he believes TRPV1 counters the effects of cannabis receptors. He acknowledges that more research is needed to establish a connection.

Can Cannabis Treat GI Disorders?

Cannabis can benefit gut and bladder health. But can it treat GI disorders?

Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders affect the organs involved in the digestive process from the mouth to the rectum. They include:

…and many more.

The Gi tract is full of cannabis receptors ready to react with cannabinoids. Cannabis’s anti-inflammatory effects could be beneficial to people with these disorders.

A 2013 study of 292 patients with IBS found that most experienced a reduction in abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea when using marijuana. A 2018 study found that 57% of 99 teen and young adult patients with IBD said cannabis helped with at least one of their symptoms and was most commonly effective in reducing physical pain.

Most studies concerning cannabis and GI health involve IBS or IBD. But it can be effective in treating other digestive disorders. It reduces nausea and vomiting. It increases appetite in patients undergoing therapy and others with difficulty eating. It also reduces stomach pain and inflammation.

While any cannabinoid can be effective, CBG and CBC may be the most beneficial for improving gut health.

Can Cannabis Help Bladder Cancer?

Cannabis marijuana leaf closeup dark background. leaves of a marijuana

Cannabis can benefit gut and bladder health. In terms of the bladder, many studies show a connection between cannabis and incontinence. But some research suggests it may also be effective in treating bladder cancer.

Health professionals at Northwest Kaiser Permanente surveyed 84,190 men who developed bladder cancer over 11 years. They found that .3% of patients with the disease had smoked marijuana (89 men) while .04% did not smoke marijuana (190 men).

“After adjusting for age, race, or ethnicity, and body mass index, use of marijuana was associated with a 45-percent decreased risk of bladder cancer whereas tobacco was associated with a 52-percent increased risk,” the study said.

Cannabis offers many health benefits. The latest shows cannabis can benefit gut and bladder health, but only when consumed responsibly. Good luck using it to reach your health and wellness goals.