Can medical cannabis help with the symptoms of giardia? Find out more below. 

What is Giardia?

Giardia is a microscopic parasite that can cause gastrointestinal illness in humans and animals. The organism, a type of protozoa, has a distinctive pear shape and can be found in contaminated water, soil, or food. Giardia infections are prevalent in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene.

What causes Giardia?

The leading cause of giardia is ingesting water or food contaminated with the parasite. This can occur when human or animal feces containing the parasite contaminate a water source, such as a lake, river, or well. The parasite can also be spread through food, mainly fruits and vegetables, washed in contaminated water.

Once inside the body, giardia attaches to the lining of the small intestine and causes a range of symptoms, including diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and fatigue. In severe cases, the infection can lead to malnutrition and weight loss.

Preventing giardia infection involves avoiding exposure to contaminated water and food. This includes practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands thoroughly with soap and water and avoiding swallowing water when swimming in lakes or rivers. It is also essential to treat water properly, such as by boiling or using a water filtration system.

Giardia is a common parasite that can cause gastrointestinal illness in humans and animals. The leading cause of giardia is ingesting water or food contaminated with the parasite, and prevention involves practicing good hygiene and avoiding exposure to contaminated water and food.

Are there Signs & Symptoms?

Here are some of the most common symptoms of Giardia:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating and gas
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Greasy or oily stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting

Some people with giardia infection may not experience any symptoms, while others may have mild symptoms that resolve independently within a few weeks. However, in some cases, the condition can become chronic and cause long-term health problems. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or suspect you may have been exposed to giardia, it is essential to speak with a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis & Treatment Options

Doctors typically diagnose giardia through medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests. Here is an overview of the diagnostic process and treatment options:


  • Medical history: The doctor will ask about your symptoms, recent travel history, and other relevant factors suggesting a giardia infection.
  • Physical examination: The doctor will examine your abdomen for signs of tenderness or bloating.
  • Stool test: This is the most common diagnostic test for giardia. You will be asked to provide a stool sample, which will be examined under a microscope for giardia cysts or trophozoites.
  • Blood test: This test is less commonly used but can help diagnose chronic or severe giardia infections. It measures the level of antibodies to giardia in your blood.


  • Medications: The most common treatment for giardia is a course of antibiotics, such as metronidazole or tinidazole. These drugs are effective in killing the parasite and relieving symptoms.
  • Fluids and electrolytes: If you are experiencing dehydration or electrolyte imbalances due to diarrhea, your doctor may recommend drinking plenty of fluids and electrolyte-rich beverages like sports drinks or oral rehydration solutions.
  • Nutritional support: In cases of severe giardia infection or prolonged diarrhea, you may need a specialized diet or supplements to prevent malnutrition.
  • Follow-up testing: After treatment, your doctor may recommend follow-up stool tests to confirm the infection has been cleared.


  • Practicing good hygiene: Wash your hands regularly, particularly after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and preparing or eating food.
  • Avoiding contaminated water: Drink only safe, treated water and avoid swallowing water while swimming in lakes or rivers.
  • Proper food handling: Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating, and cook meat to the appropriate temperature to kill potential pathogens.

Overall, giardia infection is a treatable condition with a good prognosis for most people. Most people recover fully within a few weeks with prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment. However, it is essential to follow good hygiene practices and take precautions to avoid exposure to contaminated water and food to prevent infection in the first place.

Can medical cannabis help? 

Some scientific evidence suggests that medical marijuana may have potential therapeutic benefits for some symptoms associated with giardia infection. However, more research is needed to understand its effects fully.

Marijuana contains cannabinoids, which interact with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system to produce physiological and psychological effects. One of these compounds, cannabidiol (CBD), has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that may help relieve symptoms such as abdominal pain and cramping.

In addition, medical marijuana may help to alleviate nausea and vomiting, which are common symptoms of giardia infection. THC, another compound found in marijuana, has been shown to have antiemetic properties and can reduce nausea and vomiting in some people.

While some preliminary evidence suggests that medical marijuana may have potential benefits for giardia symptoms, it is essential to note that this is still an area of active research. More studies are needed to confirm its effects. Additionally, medical marijuana is not legal in all jurisdictions and may not be appropriate or accessible for all individuals.

If you are considering medical marijuana to treat giardia symptoms, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider who can guide whether this approach may be appropriate for you and to help ensure that you use it safely and legally.

Last Updated: July 25, 2023

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