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Learn | 11.16.2021

Does Cannabis Promote A Healthy Gut Microbiome?

Here's how cannabis can help sustain a healthy digestive system.

Well, if it isn’t another interesting tidbit that validates just how helpful cannabis can be. This time around, we’re focussing on how cannabis can directly affect the gut microbiome. The gut is another term for the gastrointestinal tract, starting at the esophagus and traveling down to the anus, which holds trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. 

Sounds terrible, right? It’s quite the opposite. These bacteria and fungi are meant to stimulate and monitor the immune system, break down toxins, transfer essential vitamins and amino acids, and strengthen the gut lining. When everything is in balance and working correctly, the gut barrier, a semi-permeable structure surrounding the gut, should absorb nutrients and steer off pathogenic particles and bacteria. 

Photo by Andrii Zastrozhnov / AdobeStock

There is currently loads of evidence that supports how cannabis can support a healthy gut microbiome, which leads to better gut-brain communication and a healthier lifestyle overall. In older news, cannabis has been used for hundreds of years to help mitigate inflammation, abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

In more recent studies, researchers have found that THC may help the gut microbiome defend weight gain. According to Leafly, when obese mice were given THC, there were no changes to their usual lean microbiome and no weight fluctuations. But researchers found that THC can also relieve symptoms related to obesity like minor inflammation and gut permeability when bacteria and other toxins flow into the bloodstream from the gut.

Photo by Getty Images

Interestingly, studies suggest that cannabis can also help treat alcohol-use complications that directly impact the gut microbiome. For example, drinking alcohol in excessive amounts can lead to gut inflammation, resulting in a decrease in immune cells and an increase in unhealthy bacteria.

With both of these effects taking place, they often lead to what’s known as gut permeability or “leaky gut,” when food particles, waste, and bacteria leak into the bloodstream. Leafly noted that the study’s authors reported how CBD and the cannabis plant, in general, can help relieve gut permeability, control bacteria, and decrease gut inflammation.

Photo by Wizemark / Stocksy / Adobe Stock

A preclinical mouse study conducted in 2019 showed that a combination of THC and CBD surprisingly sustained a healthy gut microbiome and preserved short-chain fatty acids responsible for immune function and boosting metabolism in the large intestine.

Not only can these acids keep our immune system in check, but they also help sustain a healthy nervous system to improve gut-brain communication. Next time you’re down with the flu or feel sick to your stomach, don’t shy away from the plant that could relieve those lingering symptoms.

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