Updated on January 28, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Even though medical cannabis can ease constipation, it can also cause it for some patients. While constipation is one of the rarer side effects of medical weed, it’s an important one to consider and discuss with your medical marijuana doctor, especially if you’re thinking about using cannabis edibles or oils.
Possible Side Effects of Medical Pot
Every physician, no matter their specialty, focuses on providing you with a treatment plan that outweighs any potential side effects. If you experience uncomfortable side effects like constipation, you should discuss it with your doctor. They’ll be able to make additional recommendations to alleviate your discomfort.
Some side effects, however, are desired by both patients and physicians. If you cope with insomnia daily, for instance, your doctor may recommend medical weed because of its tendency to cause drowsiness, which will help you fall asleep.
How Does Medical Weed Cause Constipation?
Because constipation is a rare side effect of medical marijuana, it hasn’t undergone extensive studies by researchers. Early studies and patient experiences suggest forms of medical pot that pass through the digestive tract — like oils and edibles — can cause constipation due to their additional ingredients.
Another factor that may contribute to medical weed-induced constipation are cannabinoids — specifically, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It’s thought that while cannabidiol (CBD) can cause diarrhea, THC does the opposite.
As medical marijuana becomes increasingly integrated into healthcare and accepted by the medical community, it’s anticipated that more research will be conducted into its side effects and benefits, so patients can know what to expect and why.
Signs of Constipation From Medical Cannabis
If you’ve experienced constipation before, the symptoms of medical cannabis-induced constipation are identical.
Symptoms of Medical Marijuana-induced Constipation Includes:
- Lumpy or hard stool
- Abdominal pain
- Less than three bowel movements a week
- Straining to pass stool
- Feeling like your rectum is blocked
In extreme cases, you may be unable to use the restroom. If this happens, seek medical attention.
Long-Term Side Effects of Constipation
While brief constipation often leaves you without any lingering effects, chronic constipation can cause several issues that require assistance from a medical professional, whether it’s your primary doctor or an ER physician. Some of these long-term side effects include:
- Anal fissures
- Rectal prolapse
Sometimes, continued constipation is a sign of a more life-threatening condition, such as:
- Bowel stricture
- Rectum bulge
- Autonomic neuropathy
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Colon cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Abdominal cancer
Due to the range of issues that could cause chronic constipation, it’s critical to meet with your physician if you’re experiencing this side effect.
How to Avoid and Manage Constipation From Medical Marijuana
Since medical marijuana-induced constipation has a slight mystery surrounding it, there’s less of an understanding about how to avoid and manage constipation from medical weed edibles or oils. Physicians have recommended a few techniques with success, however, for reducing or eliminating constipation, including:
- Modifying your diet
- Switching your strain of medical pot
- Changing your administration method
- Updating your dosage of medical cannabis
Symptom trackers are helpful to use, so your physician can see which changes are making symptoms better, worse or the same between appointments.
Talk to Your Medical Marijuana Doctor About Your Constipation
Even though medical cannabis poses several side effects, most doctors and patients find its benefits outweigh those risks. No matter what kind of experience you’re having with medical weed, it’s essential to meet with your doctor regularly. They can provide personalized advice that considers your situation, symptoms, past treatments and preferences. If you’re experiencing constipation or another side effect, contact your medical marijuana doctor.
Learn why some cannabis users experience constipation as a side effect and how to combat side effects to get the most out of your cannabis.
Does Cannabis Help Relieve Constipation?
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Post by Ask Jan on May 26, 2011 18:48:57 GMT -8
American’s are constipated! over 725 million dollars spent yearly for laxatives. Understand its causes, prevention and treatment. Constipation is a symptom, not a disease!
DOES CANNABIS HELP RELIEVE CONSTIPATION?
What Is Constipation?
Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements ranges widely from person to person. Some people have bowel movements three times a day; Others, only one or two times a week. Going longer than three days without a bowel movement is too long. After three days, the stool or feces become harder and more difficult to pass.
You are considered constipated if you have two or more of the following for at least three months:
- • Straining during a bowel movement more than 25 percent of the time.
- • Hard stools more than 25 percent of the time.
- • Incomplete evacuation more than 25 percent of the time.
- • Two or fewer bowel movements in a week.
Constipation is a symptom, not a disease. Almost everyone experiences constipation at some point in their life, and a poor diet typically is the cause. Most constipation is temporary and not serious. Understanding its causes, prevention, and treatment will help most people find relief.
What Are the Symptoms of Constipation?
Symptoms of constipation can include:
• Infrequent bowel movements and/or difficulty having bowel movements.
• Swollen abdomen or abdominal pain.
Who gets constipated?
Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in the United States. More than 4 million Americans have frequent constipation, accounting for 2.5 million physician visits a year. Those reporting constipation most often are women and adults ages 65 and older. Pregnant women may have constipation, and it is a common problem following childbirth or surgery.
Self-treatment of constipation with over-the-counter (OTC) laxatives is by far the most common aid. Americans spend more than $725 million each year on laxatives.
What causes constipation?
To understand constipation, it helps to know how the colon, or large intestine, works. As food moves through the colon, the colon absorbs water from the food while it forms waste products, or stool. Muscle contractions in the colon then push the stool toward the rectum. By the time stool reaches the rectum it is solid, because most of the water has been absorbed.
Constipation occurs when the colon absorbs too much water or if the colon’s muscle contractions are slow or sluggish, causing the stool to move through the colon too slowly. As a result, stools can become hard and dry. Common causes of constipation are
- • not enough fiber in the diet
- • lack of physical activity (especially in the elderly)
- • medications
- • milk (dairy products)
- • irritable bowel syndrome
- • changes in life or routine such as pregnancy, aging, and travel
- • abuse of laxatives
- • ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
- • dehydration
- • specific diseases or conditions, such as stroke (most common)
- • problems with the colon and rectum
- • problems with intestinal function (chronic idiopathic constipation)
- • inadequate water intake
- • stress
- • Hypothyroidism
- • neurological conditions (Parkinson’s disease or MS)
People who eat a high-fiber diet are less likely to become constipated. The most common causes of constipation are a diet low in fiber or a diet high in fats, (cheese, eggs, and meats).
Fiber—both soluble and insoluble—is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that the body cannot digest. Soluble fiber dissolves easily in water and takes on a soft, gel-like texture in the intestines. Insoluble fiber passes through the intestines almost unchanged. The bulk and soft texture of fiber help prevent hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass.
Americans eat an average of 5 to 14 grams of fiber daily, which is short of the 20 to 35 grams recommended by the American Dietetic Association. Both children and adults often eat too many refined and processed foods from which the natural fiber has been removed.
Research shows that although increased fluid intake does not necessarily help relieve constipation, many people report some relief from their constipation if they drink fluids such as water and juice and avoid dehydration. Liquids add fluid to the colon and bulk to stools, making bowel movements softer and easier to pass. People who have problems with constipation should try to drink liquids every day. However, liquids that contain caffeine, such as coffee and cola drinks will worsen one’s symptoms by causing dehydration. Alcohol is another beverage that causes dehydration. It is important to drink fluids that hydrate the body, especially when consuming caffeine containing drinks or alcoholic beverages.
A lack of physical activity can lead to constipation, although doctors do not know precisely why. For example, constipation often occurs after an accident or during an illness when one must stay in bed and cannot exercise. Lack of physical activity is thought to be one of the reasons constipation is common in older people.
During pregnancy, women may be constipated because of hormonal changes or because the uterus compresses the intestine. Aging may also affect bowel regularity, because a slower metabolism results in less intestinal activity and muscle tone. In addition, people often become constipated when traveling, because their normal diet and daily routine are disrupted.
Diseases that cause constipation include neurological disorders, metabolic and endocrine disorders, and systemic conditions that affect organ systems. These disorders can slow the movement of stool through the colon, rectum, or anus.
Conditions that can cause constipation are found below.
- Neurological disorders
- multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction
- spinal cord injuries
- Metabolic and endocrine conditions
- poor glycemic control hypothyroidism
- Systemic disorders
- Intestinal obstruction, scar tissue—also called adhesions—diverticulosis, tumors, colorectal stricture, Hirschsprung disease, or cancer can compress, squeeze, or narrow the intestine and rectum and cause constipation.
Problems with Intestinal Function
The two types of constipation are idiopathic constipation and functional constipation. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with predominant symptoms of constipation is categorized separately.
Idiopathic—of unknown origin—constipation does not respond to standard treatment.
Functional constipation means that the bowel is healthy but not working properly. Functional constipation is often the result of poor dietary habits and lifestyle. It occurs in both children and adults and is most common in women. Colonic inertia, delayed transit, and pelvic floor dysfunction are three types of functional constipation. Colonic inertia and delayed transit are caused by a decrease in muscle activity in the colon. These syndromes may affect the entire colon or may be confined to the lower, or sigmoid, colon.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is caused by a weakness of the muscles in the pelvis surrounding the anus and rectum. However, because this group of muscles is voluntarily controlled to some extent, biofeedback training is somewhat successful in retraining the muscles to function normally and improving the ability to have a bowel movement.
Functional constipation that stems from problems in the structure of the anus and rectum is known as anorectal dysfunction, or anismus. These abnormalities result in an inability to relax the rectal and anal muscles that allow stool to exit.
How can cannabis help relieve constipation?
Constipation of intestinal reflexes may be alleviated by the anti-emetic properties of cannabis. Relief of constipation was one of the original cannabis indications cited by Shen-Nung five thousand years ago. Virtually every historical medical reference since that time has included similar observations. On the other hand, opiates commonly cause very severe constipation..
Ingesting whole cannabis extract will relax your bowels. Smoking/Vaporizing cannabis will relax your bowels
“Smoking marijuana worked to produce an immediate result, usually in less than two minutes.”
“Hemp seed oil products mixed with herbal extracts are widely sold in China as laxatives.”
Around (2,300 B.C.) hemp was documented as a medicine. Emperor Shen Nung prescribed hemp for the treatment of constipation along with a long list of other ailments. In India, the ayurvedic physicians mix hemp leaves with milk, sugar and spices to treat constipation.
Cannabis Seed for Constipation
Make your own (laxative) concoction: Put 10-15 grams of cannabis seed into your blender or food processor. Drizzle in, ( a little at a time), good quality EVOO (olive oil) and some Meyer lemon zest and juice.
Cannabis seed oil is nutritious. The seeds are rich in essential fatty acids: the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Seeds also contain natural vitamin E and protein.
A study found that the “hemp seed pill “(HSP) relieves a form of constipation known in traditional Chinese medicine as “excessive syndrome,” in which the bowels dry out and cause problems such as dry mouth, abdominal swelling and pain and trouble sleeping.
The study, made up of 120 people and split into two groups, one receiving 7.5 grams of HSP in 150 ml of hot water while the other group got a placebo, (twice a day for 8 weeks). Forty three percent of those taking the HSP reported improvement in their bowel movements, compared to only eight percent in the placebo group. Cannabis has a stabilizing affect on the digestive system. It binds to the nerves that control the digestive system and will reduce symptoms of IBS.
Cannabinoids are antispasmodic. Sedate when there is irritation. Relaxe the smooth muscles.
The relaxing effects of THC can help your intestines pass bulk bowel movements much easier and more quickly because the cannabinoid (THC) relaxes the nerves in the intestional wall. There is a theory that THC helps the stomach digest and process foods more easily.
“Tincture of Cannabis” was an “over the counter” preparation available in most drug stores in the United States until 1937.
Concoction: a combination of various ingredients, usually herbs, spices, powders or minerals, mixed together, minced, dissolved, or macerated into a liquid so it can be ingested or drunk.
Decoction: combining different ingredients by heating or boiling to get the active ingredients released.
A concoction of: Rhubarb, Cannabis sativa, and Elecampane is suppose to be a very effective laxative. “It gives no harmful effect to internal organs but activates their functions and promotes digestion by dissolving bile.”
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Does Cannabis Help Relieve Constipation? « Prev 1 Next » Post by Ask Jan on May 26, 2011 18:48:57 GMT -8 American’s are constipated! over 725 million dollars spent yearly