Anti-Aging & Medical Cannabis Blog

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS affects more than 35 million Americans. It isn’t surprising with these kinds of numbers that many in Maryland and Delaware would be looking to medical marijuana for IBS. After all, those affected by IBS, or spastic colon as it is also known, suffer from painful cramping, chronic diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. Unfortunately, IBS is a chronic condition that will typically affect someone throughout their entire lives.

While the cause of IBS is unknown, we do know the endocannabinoid system controls the processes of the gastrointestinal tract. It has been known for centuries that cannabis is able to treat the symptoms of IBS as many sufferers report their symptoms to be more manageable if not alleviated by medical marijuana.

According to Maryland and Delaware law, a wide range of diagnosable conditions may be eligible for a medical marijuana certification, including IBS. If you would like to know if medical marijuana is right for you, schedule an exam with one of our Maryland or Delaware marijuana doctors.

Common Treatments For IBS

There are many ways that IBS may be treated. The treatment options depend upon the severity of the patient’s IBS. Mild signs and symptoms can often be controlled by managing stress and by making changes in your diet and lifestyle. Try to:

  • Avoid foods that trigger your symptoms
  • Eat high-fiber foods
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get enough sleep

If modifications in diet and other lifestyle changes are not enough to help get your case of IBS under control it is possible your doctor may have prescribed medicines to treat IBS. In the case of IBS, some drugs are used to treat all symptoms of IBS, while other drugs are focused on specific symptoms. Drugs that are used include medications to control muscle spasms, anti-constipation drugs, tricyclic anti-depressants to ease pain, and antibiotics. If your main IBS symptom is constipation, linaclotide and lubiprostone are two drugs that are often used.

The Gut-Brain Axis and Medical Marijuana For IBS

To understand how medical marijuana can help with IBS we first need to dig in to how the endocannabinoid system works and what the Gut-Brain Axis is. The Gut-Brain Axis (GBA) is comprised of the back and forth communication between the central and enteric nervous systems, connecting the intestinal functions with the emotional and cerebral parts of the brain. The enteric nervous system is specifically the part of your nervous system that can control gastrointestinal behavior independently of the central nervous system.

The relationship between the gut and the brain affects those with IBS. Now, the endocannabinoid system is a complex network of receptors located throughout the body in areas such as the digestive system, nervous system, brain, skin, bones, organs, and more. It works as a signaling system in the body to maintain balance. The system works on endocannabinoids which are created by the human body. Endocannabinoids closely resemble cannabinoids in medical marijuana like THC.

A 2016 review about illnesses which are related to Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency suggests, “GI propulsion, secretion, and inflammation in the gut are all modulated by the endocannabinoid system, providing a rationale for cannabinoids as treatment candidates for IBS. As examples, GI propulsion is under tonic control of the endocannabinoid system and cannabis was one of the first effective clinical interventions in the 19th century for the intense diarrhea associated with cholera, a finding which was more recently validated with modern methodology.”

Those with IBS often have issues with their colon that make it incredibly sensitive. This hyper-sensitive colon results in spasms when the communication between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain is disrupted. Medical marijuana can help IBS by working with the endocannabinoid system to restore these disrupted communication pathways. The most effective of psychoactive cannabinoids in medical marijuana, THC, provides relief from two of the most common symptoms of IBS, pain, and nausea. The most effective of the non-psychoactive cannabinoids, CBD, works as an antispasmodic remedy with a very calming effect.

Psychological Effects of IBS

There is a growing body of research that psychological factors can play a role in IBS for many patients. Research is showing that treating psychological issues and effects of IBS seem to lessen stomach pain and the mental distress linked to IBS symptoms.

Preliminary research about medical marijuana and anxiety and stress shows cannabis has similar effects to medications like benzodiazepines, which are often prescribed to treat anxiety. The good news is, though, that medical marijuana used to treat anxiety has those similar effects as prescription medications without the risk of overdose.

Medical marijuana appears to lower levels of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is the hormone that is often associated with how much stress you are feeling.  If you have lowered cortisol levels you have a less severe reaction to stress, which can reduce anxiety and IBS symptoms.

In a survey given to 2,495 patients (including those with IBS), “taking CBD-rich cannabis for at least 30 days, 100% of patients with headaches, migraines, fibromyalgia, IBS, and spinal cord injury “reported a decrease in pain or discomfort.” This led to a significantly improved quality of life for people dealing with IBS.”

Accessing Medical Marijuana For IBS

Accessing medical cannabis in Maryland or Delaware for IBS is a two-part process. The first step in accessing medical cannabis is to submit an application to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) or if you’re in Delaware to have your provider complete a certification. In either a Maryland or Delaware application you will need to verify your residence in Maryland or Delaware by submitting a copy of a state issued ID or some other form of address verification. In addition, you will need to upload a passport photo that will ultimately be used on your medical cannabis card.

Once you have submitted this application to apply for your medical card in Maryland you will need to find a medical marijuana doctor. The MMJ doctor’s office will need two things from you to get you certified to access medical marijuana for anxiety. The first is some medical records documenting your qualifying medical condition. There are several things that can show this but often medical records such as a doctor’s note or prescription can demonstrate your qualifying condition. In addition to your records, the medical cannabis doctor will also need the medical ID number that you receive back from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to complete your certification. Once you have these things your doctor will be able to certify you in a quick process that will allow you to immediately access a Maryland medical marijuana dispensary.

Maryland and Delaware Medical Marijuana For You

Whether medical marijuana with help your condition depends on several factors that are best evaluated by a medical marijuana doctor. If you have been diagnosed with IBS, you are certainly a candidate for medical marijuana and would likely qualify to be certified. A Delaware or Maryland marijuana doctor at Green Relief Health can determine if you qualify during a certification consultation. For more information give us a call at 410-368-0420 or 302-564-9994.


Ryan Nawrocki