Cannabinoids Offer Novel Therapy For GI Disorders

Mainz, Germany: Cannabinoids protect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from inflammation and abnormally high gastric secretions, and could potentially treat numerous GI-related disorders such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowl syndrome, according to review data published in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation.

Investigators at Germany’s Johannes Gutenberg University report that activation of the body’s cannabinoid receptors protect the gastrointestinal tract from inflammation and modulate gastric secretions and intestinal motility. “For such protective activities, the endocannabinoid system may represent a new promising therapeutic target against different GI disorders, including inflammatory bowel diseases, functional bowel diseases, and secretion and motility disorders,” they conclude.

Though the use of cannabis to treat symptoms of GI disorders has been reported anecdotally for several decades, virtually no clinical trials on the subject have been conducted. Survey data reported last fall in O’Shaughnessy’s: The Journal of Cannabis in Clinical Practice, found that Crohn’s patients experienced subjective benefits from cannabis, including pain relief and increased appetite. German investigators at the University Hospital in Munich are now assessing the efficacy of cannabis extracts for the treatment of Crohn’s.

Researchers in the United Kingdom also reported last year that cannabinoids promote healing in the gastrointestinal membrane, and may provide therapeutic relief to patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, “Endocannabinoids and the gastrointestinal tract,” appears in the current issue of the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation.