Got Ulcers? Marijuana can ease the pain.

Got Ulcers? Marijuana can ease the pain.

Mature 50s Asian man stomachache, pressing on stomach with painful expression, sitting on sofa at home, medicines on table.

A peptic ulcer is erosion in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine, an area called the duodenum. If the peptic ulcer is located in the stomach, it is called a gastric ulcer. Most ulcers occur in the first layer of the inner lining.  If the hole goes all the way through the stomach or duodenum is called a perforation, and is a medical emergency.


The following can raise your risk for peptic ulcers: drinking too much alcohol, smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco, and regular use of aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but note that taking aspirin or NSAIDs once in awhile is safe for most people. Being very ill, such as being on a breathing machine and radiation treatments can also raise your risk for peptic ulcers. Many people believe that stress causes ulcers.  It is not clear if this is true, at least for everyday stress at home.


Small ulcers may not cause any symptoms, while larger ulcers can cause numerous symptoms including serious bleeding. Abdominal pain is a common symptom but it doesn’t always occur.  The pain can differ a lot from person to person. Other symptoms include feeling of fullness unable to drink as much fluid, hunger and an empty feeling in the stomach, often 1 – 3 hours after a meal, mild nausea (vomiting may relieve symptoms), pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen, bloody or dark tarry stools, chest pain, fatigue, vomiting, and weight loss.


The best way to stop any further growth of a stomach ulcer is to follow a healthy diet.  It must contain non-acidic meals along with liquid meals.  Sour agents like lemon should be strictly avoided in the diet. Some patients with ulcer-like symptoms are often treated with antacids or H2 antagonists before EGD is undertaken.

Potential Benefits of Marijuana

Medical benefits of marijuana for people with gastrointestinal disorders were backed up by the United States Institute of Medicine medical marijuana study. According to the Institute, “For patients who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication.”

Medical marijuana can be used to treat a variety of diseases and symptoms related to the gastrointestinal system. Cannabis helps combat cramping that accompanies many GI disorders because cannabinoids relax contractions of the smooth muscle of the intestines.  Research shows that the body’s own cannabinoids, known as anandamides, affect neurological systems that control the gastrointestinal system.  External and internal cannabinoids strongly control gastrointestinal motility and inflammation. They also have the ability to decrease gastrointestinal fluid secretion and inflammation.  This means that cannabis can be useful to stop ulcers and other syndromes.

Studies indicate that cannabinoids in marijuana bind with cannabinoid receptors in the digestive tract, especially the small and large intestine, causing muscle relaxation, reduction of inflammation, analgesia, increased nerve-muscle coordination, anti-emesis, and relief of spasms such as those that cause nausea.

Marijuana has a long documented history of use in treating GI distress. These treatments would provide patients with an alternative to other medication that could produce serious side effects. The medical community is currently undergoing research to consider Marijuana as a serious treatment for a broad range of gastrointestinal issues.



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