As bothersome as skin ulcers & skin wounds, stomach ulcers, & oral ulcers can be, is medical marijuana a possible solution for your pain? How CBD/THC Can Help Treat Ulcers There are a variety of ways people attempt to find relief from ulcers, including diet changes, over-the-counter pills or pharmaceutical medications, but many
Can Medical Marijuana Help Skin Ulcers, Stomach Ulcers, & Oral Ulcers?
When it comes to ulcers, they can be awful and painful. Regardless of whether you think of oozy and infected wounds or your gut cringes from stomach pain, these persistent and open wounds found in a few places around your body are no joke. Some ulcers simply go away in a few days to a few weeks such is the case with some ulcers found in the mouth. While stomach ulcers may make it difficult to eat, ulcers or open wounds on the skin can lead to infections, gangrene, cancers, and amputations. Thankfully there has been a lot of research into various types of ulcers and how medical cannabis may be able to help in your recovery process.
Cannabis contains over 100 cannabinoids, terpenes , and other natural compounds that have a variety of healing effects in our bodies. The most common cannabinoids are Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) and are highly sought after for their potential effects. Cannabinoids interact with our body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) . The ECS is a complex system of cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 that interact with fat-based neurotransmitters that our body naturally produces. CB1 receptors are thought to generally affect the central nervous system while CB2 receptors can be found in a variety of tissues and organs. By ingesting cannabis, the cannabinoid receptors are activated and can raise and lower endocannabinoids such as anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).
The endocannabinoids in our body are responsible for a variety of essential functions including how we perceive pain, calming inflammation , slowing digestion, and allowing our body to maintain homeostasis. Through medical cannabis, researchers have found that these bodily functions can be improved or changed to help us relieve symptoms of many chronic conditions.
Skin Ulcers and Medical Cannabis
Skin ulcers are no laughing matter and can be much more than long-lasting wounds. They can often be caused by circulation issues where blood flow is reduced or cut-off, mostly in the legs, and sores form. Ulcers on the skin can also be caused by injuries that have not healed properly. Another type of ulcer called decubitus ulcers is caused when people who are ill and have reduced mobility sit on pressure points on their skin too long and sores form. These are also known as bedsores. Fortunately, there is a lot of research that supports the use of medical cannabis for chronic pain , skin wounds, and healing skin inflammation in conditions such as eczema , psoriasis , and acne (23) .
Please check out our page on skin ulcers for more details.
Medical Marijuana and Peptic Ulcers
Peptic ulcers, also known as gastric ulcers, duodenal ulcers, or stomach ulcers are open sores that are found in our stomach or the first part of the small intestine called the duodenum. They are extremely painful and can cause other digestive issues including acid reflux, loss of appetite, possibly gastric cancer, abdominal pain, and nausea . Though doctors used to think the primary cause of peptic ulcers was stress, now they know they are often caused by a type of bacteria called H. Pylori or by overuse of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Research regarding medical cannabis shows that when THC is used in high concentrations it can slow stomach acid secretions and the digestive tract, which slows gastric emptying (15). They also believe that it can reduce pain and inflammation in the stomach lining as well as damage to this mucosal layer (9). Typically gastric ulcers can be treated with antacids, proton pump inhibitors to control acid production, and antibiotics.
Please check out our page on stomach ulcers for more information.
Oral Ulcers and Cannabis Use
Ulcers in the mouth can be bothersome, but they usually go away quickly. They can be caused by a variety of factors including oral herpes (cold sores), canker sores, head and neck cancers, or irritations in the mouth. Research published in the Journal of Dental Research supports the use of CBD for healing stomach ulcers that are caused by acidic foods or trauma (16). This research also shows that oral spray application of CBD reduces the number of cells that die from inflammatory cascades and accelerates oral ulcer healing.
Please check out our page on oral ulcers for more information.
Note: Veriheal does not intend to give this as professional medical advice. Do not attempt to self-diagnose, or prescribe treatment based on the information provided on this page. Always consult a physician before making any decision on the treatment of a medical condition.
How CBD/THC Can Help Treat Ulcers
There are a variety of ways people attempt to find relief from ulcers, including diet changes, over-the-counter pills or pharmaceutical medications, but many people are turning to more natural methods. This is now leading to many asking how CBD (Cannabidiol) or a combination of CBD and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) can help treat ulcers.
According to the Harvard Medical School, ulcers affect more than 4 million people in the United States each year; 1 in 10 individuals develop an ulcer at some time.
Different Types of Ulcers
While you may hear the term ulcer used in general terms. There are several types of ulcer depending on their location in the body. A peptic ulcer is a sore on the lining of your stomach, small intestine or esophagus. An esophageal ulcer occurs in the lower part of your esophagus. A peptic ulcer in the stomach is called a gastric ulcer. A duodenal ulcer is a peptic ulcer that develops in the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). An esophageal ulcer occurs in the lower part of your esophagus.
GERD and its Relationship to Ulcers
The underlying issue for both GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), commonly referred to as acid reflux and ulcers is the same—acid. The backup, or reflux, of stomach acids into the esophagus that occurs with, can wear away (erode) the lining of the esophagus and cause sores, called ulcers.
A common misconception is that stress or spicy foods cause ulcers. While they do not cause ulcers, they can make your symptoms worse. With an ulcer, you feel a burning stomach pain (epigastric) that occurs 1-3 hours after eating, especially spicy food.
Common Symptoms of Ulcers
The most common ulcer symptom is burning stomach pain. Stomach acid makes the pain worse, as does having an empty stomach. The pain can often be relieved by eating certain foods that buffer stomach acid or by taking an acid-reducing medication, but then it may come back. The pain may be worse between meals and at night. Other symptoms include:
- Feeling of fullness, bloating or belching
- Intolerance to fatty foods
How CBD and/or THC May Help
Our stomachs contain cannabinoid receptors that are part of the endocannabinoid system. These receptors bind with the cannabinoids in cannabis. When this happens, the CB1 receptor tells the stomach to stop producing stomach acid, thus helping relieve acid reflux.
Cannabis/cannabinoids protect the gastric mucosa by virtue of its antisecretory, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and vasodilatory effects. As far back as 1978, it was shown that acute and long-term cannabis treatment reduced the rate of gastric ulceration in rats that were put under stress using restraints.
A review of the gastrointestinal effects of cannabinoids in 2001 states “The digestive tract contains endogenous cannabinoids (anandamide and 2-arachidonylglycerol) and cannabinoid CB1 receptors can be found on myenteric and submucosal nerves.
Activation of CB1 receptors inhibits gastrointestinal motility, intestinal secretion, and gastric acid secretion.” The study concludes that “The enteric location of CB1 receptors could provide new strategies for the management of gut disorders.”
In addition to affecting stomach acid, the muscle relaxant properties of cannabis make it useful for treating acid reflux. The stomach sphincters become more relaxed thereby reducing reflux.
When the CBD reacts with the endocannabinoid system, it reduces the secretion of acids that would otherwise cause actual burn when dealing with the symptoms of acid reflux. There are also anti-inflammatory properties in CBD which make it a useful treatment in individuals with acid reflux.
Cannabis can also reduce stress and help patients relax, which is also beneficial in the treatment of ulcers.
“THC, in particular, is really useful for ulcers because there are some theories that ulcers show an altered activity of endocannabinoid receptors,” says Three Wells Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Deborah Malka. “THC, in particular, is stimulating and it actually can help normalize the activity of the endocannabinoid receptors in the gut, and for ulcers that’s really important.”
Choosing the Right Strain
These three indica-dominant cannabis strains below are commonly used by people with gastrointestinal pain based on their reputation for alleviating pain and relaxation:
- Holy Grail Kush
- Hash Plant
Choosing the Right Delivery Methods and Dosage
The delivery method people choose varies by person. Below are the most common:
- Smoking: You’ll experience the quickest relief when you smoke your cannabis, but like all forms of smoking, you run the risk of irritating your lungs or throat with smoking.
- Vaporizing: Like smoking, vaping also offers you with fast relief, but it doesn’t expose you as much to the harmful effects of smoking.
“Smoking is…irritating to the airways and your throat. I would stick with vaporizing if you wanted to inhale it all, and avoid smoking altogether for your upper GI symptoms, says Dr. Malka.
- Tinctures: Tinctures allow you to measure your exact dose. Plus, you can add cannabis tinctures to your food or drinks or take them sublingually for quick symptom relief.
“A tincture is a good method of delivery to treat upper digestive disorders because it is absorbed directly into submucosal tissues upon swallowing,” Dr. Malka says. “Tinctures can also be delivered as a mouth spray for immediate relief.”
- Capsules: While slower acting, you might choose capsules if you’re looking for a more controlled dose.
As far as dosage, “you don’t need a lot,” Dr. Malka says. “I would start with maybe 5 mg of THC three times a day. You can do that by tincture, by edible or sublingual mouth sprays to get your THC dose.
“As always, if you’re bothered by the psychoactivity (of THC) you can add CBD to the mix, so 5 mg of THC and 5 mg of CBD three times a day would be a good way to start.”
Possible Side Effects
Side effects will vary based on the ratio of CBD and THC and the dosage, but, in general, side effects of CBD may include paradoxically, sedation or problems with sleep, gastrointestinal distress, or dry mouth and eyes. Side effects of THC may include dry mouth, dry/red eyes, hunger, drowsiness and impaired memory.
If you’ve been suffering from ulcers and over-the-counter or pharmaceutical remedies haven’t worked, or you’re looking for a more natural option, CBD and THC may be something to explore.