Gastritis

Can medical cannabis help patients relieve symptoms of gastritis? Find out below. 

What is gastritis?

The mucosa is a protective lining of mucus in the stomach that protects from the stomach acid that digests food. When something damages or weakens, the mucosa becomes inflamed and causes gastritis. A type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori is the most common cause of gastritis.

There are two main types of gastritis:

  • Erosive: Erosive or reactive gastritis causes inflammation and wearing away of the stomach lining. 
  • Non-erosive: Inflammation of the stomach lining without erosion of the stomach lining.

What are the causes?

Various factors can trigger gastritis, including:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Bacterial infection
  • Bile reflux
  • Medications
  • Physical stress

Signs & Symptoms

People with gastritis often mistake their symptoms for indigestion. Signs of gastritis may include the following: 

  • A black, tarry stool
  • Bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting (potentially with blood)
  • Feeling too full during or after a meal
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Losing weight
  • Upper abdominal belly pain or discomfort

Similar Medical Conditions

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a severe form of gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. IBS symptoms can range from abdominal pain to loss of appetite to fatigue, diarrhea, or constipation, which are caused by chronic inflammation of the GI tract. Irritable Bowel Syndrome currently has no cure, but physicians and patients are hopeful that cannabis can help control the severe symptoms that accompany the debilitating condition. Medical marijuana is reported to help with nausea, diarrhea, appetite, and quality of life diminished by a patient’s daily living limitations with gastrointestinal issues.

Recent evidence shows that cannabinoids like CBD and CBG can help reduce inflammation, suggesting why users say they can relieve pain. Individual reports claim their personal use of the plant has effectively reduced some of their chronic symptoms, which could be helpful for IBS. In addition to a decrease in pain, it may also bring back appetite and help control weight fluctuations.

Crohn’s disease is a severe gastrointestinal (GI) disorder called inflammatory bowel disease. Another common form of inflammatory bowel disease is ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease symptoms can range from abdominal pain to loss of appetite to fatigue, diarrhea, or constipation, which are caused by chronic inflammation of the GI tract. Crohn’s Disease currently has no cure, but physicians and patients are hopeful that cannabis can help control the severe symptoms that accompany the debilitating condition. Medical marijuana is reported to help with nausea, diarrhea, appetite, and quality of life diminished by a patient’s daily living limitations with gastrointestinal issues.

Peptic Ulcers

There are two main types of peptic ulcers.

  • Gastric ulcers-stomach
  • Duodenal ulcers-upper part of the small intestine

There are two leading causes of peptic ulcers.

  • Bacterial infection: Infection that can cause inflammation and damage your stomach linings.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs, including aspirin and ibuprofen, are typically used to treat pain. 

Some common symptoms of peptic ulcers include:

  • stomach pain
  • bloating
  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Peptic ulcers can bleed, which can be severe. 

If an ulcer is bleeding rapidly, symptoms can include the following:

  • black, sticky stool
  • bloody stool
  • bloody vomit
  • fainting

Treatments for peptic ulcers include:

  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): PPIs block acid production in your stomach, allowing the ulcers to heal.
  • Antibiotics: If H. pylori caused your ulcer, you need antibiotics to eliminate the infection.

NSAID cessation: If NSAID causes the ulcer, talk with your doctor about alternative pain medications.

Medicinal Cannabis for Gastritis Patients

Recent evidence shows that cannabinoids like CBD and CBG can help reduce inflammation, suggesting why users say they can relieve pain. For gastritis patients, these anti-inflammatory effects could help reduce symptoms. Although more research is needed on cannabis use for people with gastritis, individual reports claim their use of the plant has effectively reduced some of their chronic symptoms. In addition to a decrease in pain, it may also bring back appetite and help control weight fluctuations.

Current research shows that more studies are warranted on inflammatory bowel syndrome and the therapeutic benefits of marijuana for modulating pain, controlling nausea, and slowing the intestinal digestion process. Small-scale human and animal studies continue to show promise, and the potential benefits are being researched further.

Timna Naftali conducted the first study in 2011 on a similar condition, Crohn’s Disease, and medicinal cannabis. The study followed thirty patients with Crohn’s and recorded their disease severity before and after cannabis use. Researchers found that many users could decrease inflammation medications, including steroids. Approximately three-fourths of participants said they experienced decreased symptoms and daily bowel movements.

Another study discusses the cannabis plant’s potential for helping to relieve digestive inflammation and its anti-inflammatory properties by activating the endocannabinoid system, a fat-based system of self-made neurotransmitters. When CB2 receptors line the intestinal tissue, a P-glycoprotein transmitter will help decrease the body’s inflammatory and autoimmune responses.

MMJ Patients with Gastritis may see the following benefits:

  • Pain management improvement 
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Appetite Increase and regulation
  • Reduced need for regular steroid use 
  • Decrease in diarrhea

The potential risks of using cannabis for Gastritis include the following:

  • Adverse drug interactions with other medications 
  • Many health insurance companies don’t cover MMJ
  • Increased risk of anxiety with prolonged use
  • Mild side effects of THC include: dry mouth, drowsiness, psychoactive effects, nausea, and paranoia

Summary

Suppose you have been looking for a new way to manage common gastritis symptoms or need additional relief on top of other prescribed medications. In that case, medicinal cannabis may be a good option. Finding the correct type of cannabis product and dose may take some time and experimentation. 

While there are potential therapeutic benefits, there is little information about the health risks associated with long-term cannabis consumption. We recommend caution and consulting with your healthcare provider before starting a new gastritis symptom relief treatment.

Last Updated: July 25, 2023

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