Besides calming, generally fun and beneficial effects it has on our nervous system, it seems that cannabis also affects our gastrointestinal system. And no, we’re not talking about munchies.
If you ever felt the effects of cannabis on your gastrointestinal system, then you know we’re talking about running to the bathroom to make number two. And in case you were wondering, you’re not alone, because more than a few fellow herbal enthusiasts reported the very same thing. Apparently, weed interacts with our stomach and makes us poo.
Now, to avoid presenting you with anecdotal evidence, we had to read through several studies regarding the effects that cannabis has on our gastrointestinal system. And according to a study published by The American Journal of Gastroenterology, any recent use of marijuana decreases the odd of constipation. However, this effect is counter to the already known physiological effect cannabis has on colonic motility.
So, what exactly is going on, and how does cannabis affect the human stomach, and our need to do number 2?
To approach this topic properly and explain how cannabis makes us poop, first, we must understand how stress affects our brain, and our GI tract.
From an evolutionary standpoint, it would be really impractical to defecate while you’re being chased or attacked by a predator. Our automatic nervous system unconsciously regulates our heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, sexual arousal, and urination and defecation. It’s a primary mechanism in control of fight-or-flight response.
Whenever you find yourself in a dangerous situation, your sympathetic nervous system activates the physiological changes that occur dung fight-or-flight. It releases adrenaline or noradrenaline, and prepares the body for violent muscular action, like fighting, or running for your life. Among its many physiological effects, the release of adrenaline or noradrenaline slows down your stomach and digestion or stops it completely.
In contrast, the parasympathetic nervous system activates the “rest and digest” response, once the danger has passed, and returns the body to normal after the fight-or-flight response. Of course, it relaxes all the necessary muscles, regulates your heartbeat and breathing, and kickstarts your digestion. But what does cannabis have to do with all of this?
Well, if you’re under stress, your nervous system might perceive that as a threat, at least to some degree. Unfortunately, many people take their work-related stress home with them, still thinking and stressing around work, which can definitely affect bowel movement. So, when the times come for you to empty your bowels, you might be too stressed to do so without even realizing it.
We need a relaxed and comfortable place to be able to defecate, but our minds need to be relaxed and comfortable too. And that’s where weed kick’s in. Its calming properties can suppress the excessive sympathetic activity caused by stress, allowing your body to shift into “rest and digest” and do the deed.
But does it really work?
It does. A study from 2016 concluded that our endocannabinoid system plays an important role in regulating gastrointestinal motility. In other words, it can help regulate bowel movement.
Until recently, clinical evidence suggested that cannabinoids slow colonic transit. However, according to the study published by the AJG, cannabinoids from the marijuana plant have unique effects on bowel movement. The study concluded that, despite slowing down colonic transit, cannabinoids reduce the odds of constipation by 30%.
In truth, many weed enthusiasts noted more effortless bowel movement after indulging in some cannabis. Still, there are two sides of that particular coin. If you suffer from pain or anxiety-related constipation, cannabis can help alleviate the symptoms and allow you to go more comfortably.
But weed can also worsen the situation if you’re not constipated due to stress or pain because it suppresses muscular contractions and secretion in the colon. This, in turn, slows down colon transit, making it harder to defecate, but helps with diarrhea.
These studies provided groundbreaking insights that can help with many other issues like irritable bowel syndrome or clinical endocannabinoid deficiency. Still, further studies are needed to identify how to utilize cannabis for alleviating constipation clinically. You can follow the news on websites like Leafly or MedSignals.
In conclusion, cannabis can make you poo, if you’re suffering from stress-related constipation. So, the next time your poop train refuses to leave the station, relax and spark up a doobie. Not only can it help you make dookie, but it can slow your poop train down if it starts running wild and free.