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?

marijuana 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.

Marijuana and Constipation

However, much like anything else, too much can cause the opposite of the desired effect, although to understand exactly how THC plays into your bathroom schedule requires more research. The same goes for CBD.

There is evidence that shows CBD, among other cannabinoids, does affect gastric motility – which determines how quickly or slowly matter passes through the intestines. How cannabis affects you is dictated in large part by which cannabinoids you’re consuming. Given the fact that there are over 70 known cannabinoids until cannabis is legalized and we can research each cannabinoid more in-depth, any answer that you receive regarding cannabis and constipation is going to come with an asterisk.

Medical marijuana can often be a huge help in many problems that arise from the standard opiate protocol that many doctors prescribe (like constipation.) Not only do patients feel like they have more control, but they also are less likely to become addicted to opiates and subsequently not have to face harsher side effects from opiates.

The science on everything marijuana-related is limited, but according to this self-reported data, long term cannabis users often experience constipation as one of the symptoms that can develop with cannabis use. This study does have its flaws though. In general, there is nothing wrong with self-reported data. However, it mentions that many of the individuals who reported constipation with marijuana also have irritable bowel syndrome. Since constipation can be a side effect of IBS, these results should be taken with a grain of salt.

The endocannabinoid system is complex and finely-tuned

In people who lack appetite, cannabis can be all that is needed to induce ravenous hunger. This can be highly beneficial for people suffering from certain illnesses that affect the appetite, from cancer to eating disorders themselves, as well as otherwise-healthy individuals whose appetite loss is due to stress or other factors.

On the other hand, in some individuals, the effect of introducing extra cannabinoids to the GI tract is disruptive and can cause a range of unusual and unexpected symptoms. In rare cases, cannabis can cause an acute vomiting syndrome known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, as well as potentially causing acute pancreatitis.

Positive effects of cannabis use on the GI tract

marijuana constipation

Multiple studies have demonstrated that cannabis can be helpful in the management of, IBD, IBS, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s, and cancer-related anorexia and cachexia (appetite loss and muscle wasting). The first three conditions are even speculated to be a result of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD), a condition in which the individual does not produce enough cannabinoids or cannabinoid receptors. These diseases appear to be promoted by spinal, peripheral and gastrointestional mechanisms, and the research suggests that cannabinoids can block these mechanisms.

Marijuana to Prevent Constipation

Constipation comes and goes, even in those with chronic constipation. Once medication, food or the body helps hard or large feces to pass, your constipation resolves. However, it typically comes back. Healthy individuals who do not suffer from chronic irregularity will likely have the condition again as well, but it will not be as resistant to treatment as in those with chronic constipation.

Individuals who have chronic problems moving their bowels, are taking medication causing constipation or have a condition making being bound up more likely can take certain measures, such as increased fiber intake, to prevent their irregularity.

A University of California, San Francisco study found pain sufferers on opiate pain medications were able to reduce their doses if they coupled their medication with medical marijuana. This decreases the potential for side effects, such as constipation, while on the drug. Furthermore, research into marijuana as a treatment for digestive disorders has shown receptors reacting to the components in marijuana in the human digestive system.

Though we have some proof medical cannabis can positively affect digestive symptoms, we still need further research to uncover all of the components of medical marijuana affecting the evacuation of fecal matter and digestion.

Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Constipation Symptoms and Side Effects

Each of us has experienced constipation at one time or another in our lives. We know being bound up sure doesn’t feel good, and we are always seeking ways to relieve ourselves of the condition. Using medical marijuana can help to relax your bowel muscles so you can pass your stool easily.

Constipation does a lot more to your body than simply bind you up, though. As you’ve read, it can cause a range of other symptoms like the ones below — and luckily, specific marijuana strains can help with each of these discomforts. Let’s take a look.

  • Pain: Marijuana for constipation is a natural pain reliever. Many people consume it to address their daily chronic pain. Whether you’re struggling with chronic constipation pain or abdominal pain, some good pain-relieving strains you can try include Girl Scout Cookies (hybrid), White Widow (hybrid) and Jack Herer (Sativa).
  • Nausea and vomiting: A popular medical use of medical weed is to treat nausea. Strains you may want to try for nausea and vomiting include Rockstar (Indica), Lavender (hybrid) and White Fire OG (hybrid).
  • Depression and anxiety: Let’s face it,when you’re dealing with chronic constipation, you’ll feel stressed. Stress can lead to anxiety. When stressed, you experience a decrease in your endocannabinoid production relating directly to your cognition, emotion, and behavior.

Interestingly, when you introduce supplemental cannabinoids into your system, you reduce your symptoms of depression and anxiety. Relieve your anxiety and depression with strains like Blue Dream (hybrid), Sour Grape (hybrid) and Lemon Skunk (Sativa-dominant hybrid).

  • Sleep problems: Medical cannabis for constipation also helps you not only fall asleep more quickly, but provides a long, deep, restful night of sleep. The key here is to find the best-working strain for you. Some great insomnia strains include Kryptonite (Indica-dominant hybrid), Granddaddy Purple (Indica) and Skywalker OG (Indica-dominant hybrid).

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