Cannabis was a medical substance for thousands of years. With the wind of legalization of cannabis use blowing across the world, new insights into the contribution of cannabinoids to improving medical care are emerging. Several studies and experiments demonstrate the role that cannabinoids can play in the treatment of symptoms of various ailments, such as those caused by refractory gastroparesis. This article explains what gastroparesis is, how it manifests itself, and the impact of cannabinoids on its symptoms.
Gastroparesis: What is it?
It is a chronic neuromuscular disorder that manifests itself as a delay in gastric emptying in the absence of mechanical obstruction. It results from a difficulty in regulating gastric muscle activity. This condition can be acute or chronic and has a variety of causes:
- Idiopathic diseases
- post-surgical diseases
- gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal pathologies like: Parkinson’s disease, collagenous endocrine and metabolic pathologies, chronic renal insufficiency gastric infections, neurological pathologies such as central system tumors, etc.
However, the three major etiologies of gastroparesis are idiopathic, diabetic, and gastric post-surgery. Gastroparesis has serious socioeconomic and quality of life consequences for sick individuals. At the same time, the prevalence of gastroparesis is increasing in the world population. In 2009, severe forms of gastroparesis caused by diabetes that is refractory to medical treatment concerned 0.5 to 2% of patients.
Symptoms and treatment of gastroparesis
Symptoms of gastroparesis include nausea or vomiting, bloating or constipation, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, gastroesophageal reflux disease, etc. These various symptoms have an impact on the quality of life of those who suffer from them.
Initially, the treatment of gastroparesis focuses on reducing symptoms by advocating hygienic practices (reduction of lipids and fibers, fragmentation of the diet, normalization of blood sugar levels, etc.) The use of antiemetics and neuromodulators is sometimes necessary to control symptoms.
The impact of cannabinoids on gastroparesis symptoms
Gastroparesis is linkable to neuropathy, particularly autonomic neuropathy, which is perceived as a complication. Several studies show that cannabinoids can control the symptoms of neuropathies. Patients with HIV and those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treated for these symptoms with cannabis. Cannabis has allowed patients to eat without regurgitating the food they have eaten. Therefore, it is fair to assume that these same symptoms (nausea, vomiting, and others) caused by gastroparesis could well be treatable with cannabinoids.
The effects of cannabis on nausea
Therapeutic cannabis has already been used on many occasions in medicine to treat ailments. The good results obtained so far are due to its action on the endocannabinoid system. This communication system is composed of membrane receptors CB1 (in nerve cells) and CB2 (in immune system cells). It means that when cannabinoids such as THC and CBD ingested, they activate these receptors, thereby causing important changes in the body. Cannabis, in the context of nausea, has the same effect on the endocannabinoid system.
In a scientific article , researchers suggest that manipulations on the endocannabinoid system have regulatory effects on nausea and vomiting in both humans and other animals. They believe this is a result of the activation of the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system.
In conclusion, there is evidence that cannabinoids have a significant impact on the improvement and control of gastroparesis symptoms. It represents a potent alternative to conventional treatments. It could be involved in the relief of abdominal pain due to gastroparesis.