Marijuana really helps you poop, according to science
While the science is mixed about how marijuana affects the gastrointestinal system, it might make you less constipated
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If you’re struggling with consistent healthy bowel movements, you might try smoking marijuana. According to new research published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, those who recently smoked weed were less likely to suffer from constipation.
Scientists still don’t completely understand how cannabis affects the gastrointestinal system and digestive process. To better understand the relationship, researchers identified American adults who completed the drug use and bowel movement questionnaires in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey over a 6-year period from 2005 to 2010. Using the Bristol Stool Form Scale, scientists then analyzed the likelihood of an individual suffering from chronic constipation or diarrhea based on recent marijuana use.
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According to the study, recent weed consumption was associated with 30% lower odds of constipation. The prevalence of constipation was also lower for those who reported recently consuming marijuana when compared to those who had never used or done so in the past. These results persisted when the scientists adjusted for demographic factors like race, sex, and socioeconomic status.
However, there was no relationship with recent toking and diarrhea symptoms.
“Our analysis is the first population-based human clinical study of marijuana and bowel function providing important insights into the aggregate effects of the various components of the marijuana plant on constipation,” the study’s authors wrote. “Owing to the high prevalence and burden of constipation in combination with the increasing availability of both recreational and medicinal cannabis, further studies are needed to identify how use of whole cannabis, different marijuana strains, and frequency of marijuana use exert their apparent effects on constipation.”
Previous research on marijuana’s effect on the gastrointestinal system has been conflicted. While the authors demonstrated an association between recreational marijuana use and constipation, other studies have provided different results.
“Current evidence suggests that cannabinoids slow colonic transit through actions on the CB1 receptor,” the researchers wrote. “However, a recent clinical trial reported that hemp seed pills improved constipation symptoms among patients with functional constipation, suggesting that the summative effect of the separate cannabinoids in the marijuana plant might have a unique effect on bowel motility.”
TheFreshToast.com, a U.S. lifestyle site, that contributes lifestyle content and, with their partnership with 600,000 physicians via Skipta, medical marijuana information to The GrowthOp.
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We encountered an issue signing you up. Please try againWhile the science is mixed about how marijuana affects the gastrointestinal system, it might make you less constipated
Does cannabis make you poo?
Have you ever sat down for a nice session but after a few tokes suddenly have to get up to hit the bathroom? I noticed a connection so I asked the internet, which provided abundant anecdotal evidence , proving I wasn’t alone in my pondering. After I started peeking into what science had to say on the matter, my curiosity only increased.
I did a deep dive into studies on the subject, as well as consulted a couple experts, and it turns out the connection between smoking a bowl and going #2 is no coincidence. Between cannabis calming our nerves, its effect on the gut’s microbiome, and the endocannabinoid system being involved in the activity in this department, it looks like weed can, indeed, make us doodie.
Too stressed to go
I spoke with medical cannabis exper t and integrative medicine physician Dustin Su lak, D.O. “ Endocannabinoids absolutely do affect motility, both directly and indirectly. The most powerful way in which cannabis could help a person defecate is by helping them to relax and get into a more parasympathetic state,” said Sulak.
Another way to think of a parasympathetic state is “rest and digest,” with defecation being part of the digest aspect. This is opposed to the sympathetic nervous system, which prepares the body to act quickly. There is an evolutionary reason for not being able to poo while in a fight-or-flight state enacted by the sympathetic nervous system: “If we’re escaping from a bear attacking us, we don’t want to have to defecate,” said Sulak.
He continued, “Conversely, when it’s time to relax and empty our bowels, we don’t want to feel threatened. That has to happen in a place where we feel comfortable. But, unfortunately, a lot of people are taking their stressors around with them, even into the bathroom, with their phones or just in their minds, remaining stressed out, feeling threatened in some way.”
But cannabis, and endocannabinoids that our bodies produce, can help. “Our inner pharmacy’s version of cannabis, the endocannabinoids, and herbal cannabis, have the ability to suppress this excessive sympathetic activity. So if the fight-or-flight response is turned on too strongly, the right dose of cannabis can suppress it. This is obvious to people who use cannabis to help them relax and find relief from anxiety. The same mechanism would allow someone to shift into rest and digest, or parasympathetic dominance, and get the job done,” he said.
The Goldilocks zone
Endocannabinoids help keep the body in balance. One of those endocannabinoids, 2-AG, is an important physiologic regulator of gastrointestinal motility —i.e., pooping—and behaves like THC. “That’s one of our body’s signaling molecules that mimics THC, or THC mimics it. 2-AG is active in regulating the sympathetic and parasympathetic influence on the gut, and in the gut itself, where it suppresses excessive activity and brings the system into balance,” said Sulak.
So in this way, cannabis could lead to a deuce by helping keep our nervous system and our gut in the “ Goldilocks zone ,” or the healthy range of activity.
Cannabis can also help someone get into the needed relaxed state by relieving pain. “When people are in chronic pain, even if it has nothing to do with the rectum—if it’s their foot or their leg or their head—that still creates a kind of threatening internal state. So it can be hard when in pain or feeling anxiety to relax enough to use the bathroom. Cannabis can be very useful for that,” said Sulak.
Dr. Sulak concluded with a word of caution: “For people with constipation not related to stress or pain, cannabis could potentially worsen the issue because it can suppress muscular contractions and secretion in the colon, the same ways in which it can help with diarrhea.”
More on cannabis and BMs
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is also integral to the brain-gut axis, which modulates activity in this realm, including helping people poop. This 2016 study says that the ECS is “ An important physiologic regulator of gastrointestinal motility,” meaning bowel movements.
F orem ost psychopharmacology researcher Ethan Russo, M.D., also told us, “ A lot of people note easier bowel movements after cannabis. This can alleviate both constipation or diarrhea associated with irritable bowel syndrome, a presumptive clinical endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome. THC also positively alters the gut microbiome and this effect should not be discredited.”
Additionally, a 2019 study found that cannabis consumption was associated with a 30% decrease in constipation.
So, if you’ve ever wondered if there’s a connection between enjoying herb and needing to head for a #2—‘tis not in your imagination. Next time you need a little help, maybe try sparking up a doobie so you can dookie.If you've ever had to run to the bathroom after sparking up a doob, there might be a reason. Read on to see why. ]]>