How Cannabis Affects Digestion: Pros And Cons
2 min

How Cannabis Affects Digestion: Pros And Cons

2 min

Cannabis can improve or worsen digestive diseases, let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of ganja use on the digestive system.

How does cannabis affect digestion? This question has driven many scientists for decades. Many studies have contributed to our understanding of the cannabis/body relationship, and how it can potentially help patients with digestive problems, among other symptoms and diseases. We will explore the pros and cons of using cannabis for digestive problems.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors. The ECS is located in the brain, central and peripheral nervous system. It’s significantly responsible for hunger, appetite, satiety, salivation, and the immune system. The cannabinoid receptors are also located in the digestive system, which is directly affected by the cannabinoid substances in the body. The body produces natural cannabinoids such as anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol. Upon consumption, cannabis provides cannabinoids that act in a similar manner.

IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) are common intestinal diseases. IBD comes in forms such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and indeterminate colitis; they are forms of chronic diseases, which cause inflammation and chronic swelling. IBS is not marked as a disease, it’s more of a “functional disorder” that can show very similar symptoms to IBD.



Studies have shown that ECS has an important role in the modulation of the digestive system. Cannabinoids can help modulate and lower the side effects of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, such as inflammation, lack of appetite, rapid weight loss, fatigue, depression, pain etc. Cannabinoids have been shown to modulate the motility of the bowels, which people with chronic diarrhea can benefit from. A study stated: “More recent pharmacological studies have clearly established that cannabinoids inhibit gastrointestinal motility and secretion by acting on CB1 receptors located on the terminals of both intrinsic and extrinsic submucosal neurons.”

Cannabis helps to stimulate appetite by generating the “munchies”. When the stomach is empty, a hormone called ghrelin is released and reaches the hypothalamus, which makes the subject hungry. The THC in cannabis activates the ghrelin receptors, which conclusively makes people hungry, even if the stomach contains food. People suffering from anorexia or any condition that lowers the appetite could potentially benefit from marijuana.



Even though cannabis is considered as a miracle drug, and works for many people to reduce inflammation, depression, pain etc; many people feel adverse effects of cannabis on the digestive system.

In some cases people experience appetite loss while consuming cannabis; it sounds strange considering that THC releases ghrelin, although many reports suggest that it’s not just a singular event. Cannabis-induced appetite loss might be linked to several factors, such as stress or anxiety that can be triggered by cannabis, although further investigation is required.

People with cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome can experience vomiting and nausea caused by cannabis use. People with this syndrome usually experience adverse effects after heavy cannabis use. Scientists investigated this correlation and concluded that cannabis might be destructive for people with cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. Also, people with pancreatitis have shown cannabis-induced side effects, although more significant studies are needed to correlate cannabis to pancreatitis side effects.


Cannabis can generate positive and negative effects on the digestive system. It depends on the person's health condition and the subjective experience. Many mix tobacco with cannabis and smoke it as a joint, which causes many issues by itself. Tobacco, as we all know, is linked to a multitude of diseases and burning cannabis in a non-vaporized form can also produce harmful effects on the digestive system. Some people with Crohn’s disease can consume cannabis, but the smoke can irritate the intestines. It’s best to push for the medical legalization of marijuana to explore the possibilities of medicating digestive syndromes and diseases. It’s very important not just to smoke cannabis for a digestive disease, or any disease for that matter, just because thousands of blogs say that it’s a miracle drug. Make smart decisions and take care of yourself. If you feel any adverse effects of cannabis, stop, and consult with a specialist about it, if you have the privilege of doing so.


Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
Professional cannabis journalist, copywriter, and author Adam Parsons is a long-time staff member of Zamnesia. Tasked with covering a wide range of topics from CBD to psychedelics and everything in between, Adam creates blog posts, guides, and explores an ever-growing range of products.
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