5 Best Strains to Help Treat IBS

young woman suffering from stomach pain

Table of contents

  1. How Cannabis Could Help IBS
  2. Best Ways to Use Cannabis for IBS
  3. Best Strains for IBS
  4. Frequently Asked Questions

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder of the intestines that causes the colon muscles to spasm uncontrollably. People with IBS generally experience abdominal pain and cramps, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation.

This chronic condition requires long-term treatment and management, with the most traditional treatments including dietary changes, physical exercise, mind-body exercises or counseling, probiotics, and medications such as opioids, anticholinergics and even antidepressants.

Interestingly, cannabis has recently shown potential as an effective treatment for IBS. Although there is no evidence that it will cure the disorder, cannabis may help reduce your symptoms.

How Cannabis Could Help IBS

There are several ways in which cannabis could help reduce IBS symptoms. A study has shown that cannabis users with IBS may be likely to utilize healthcare for this disorder.

Cannabis may be able to regulate colon contractions. Although the evidence from clinical trials is limited, it has been shown that dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC, can slow down colon contractions in patients with IBS, specifically in those where diarrhea is prominent.

The endocannabinoid system is a cell-signaling network that modulates different functions in the body, and consists of cannabinoid receptors, neurotransmitters, endocannabinoids and enzymes. It is often thought that a clinical endocannabinoid deficiency is associated with the development of IBS, because gastrointestinal propulsion, secretion and inflammation are regulated by the endocannabinoid system.

Due to this, two key cannabinoids in cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are thought to stimulate the endocannabinoid system by binding to receptors in the digestive system. In turn, this enables the endocannabinoid system to promote healthy gut function.

A study in people with irritable bowel disease (IBD) showed that cannabinoids helped to directly improve symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and poor appetite. Although IBD is not the same disorder as IBS, they both have several symptoms in common, so there is a belief that IBS patients would experience the same effects. .

It may also act on other receptors, such as serotonin and opioid receptors, which may help reduce the inflammation and secondary stress or anxiety associated with IBS. Some strains also stimulate your appetite, which is often suppressed in people with IBS.

When choosing a strain for IBS treatment, it is generally best to focus on strains that either have a relatively balanced ratio of CBD to THC, or alternatively, have higher CBD content. Although both strains exert similar anti-inflammatory and painkilling effects, CBD is not psychoactive.

Terpenes, the chemicals that are responsible for the aromas and taste of different strains, can also have analgesic (painkilling), anti-inflammatory and even gastroprotective qualities. Key terpenes to focus on for IBS are caryophyllene, pinene, limonene, myrcene and linalool.

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Best Ways to Use Cannabis for IBS

For immediate relief, smoking or vaporizing cannabis is the most effective method for relieving pain. Studies have shown that these are the two most popular methods used by people with gastrointestinal disorders.

If you do not need immediate relief from your symptoms, consuming edibles is another way that you can ingest cannabis. This method may be more beneficial for some people since it can provide longer-lasting relief from IBS symptoms.

Best Strains for IBS

It is important to note that there is no definitive best strain or variety of cannabis, and that what works best for one person may not necessarily work for another. The below list is based on anecdotal reports.

Cannatonic 

Cannatonic is one of the most popular cannabis strains used for medicinal purposes. This is due to its high CBD content of 17%, which is almost three times higher than its THC content of 6%.

Because of this, it can be used to manage chronic pain, such as the gastrointestinal symptoms associated with IBS. Another benefit of the low THC content of Cannatonic is that you won’t have to experience any of the side effects of the ‘high’ that THC causes.

Cannatonic - a low THC, high CBD sativa strain of cannabis by Resin Seeds.

ACDC 

With a high CBD content of 20%, ACDC is another strain that is commonly used by people who suffer from chronic pain. As a bonus, users consider it a calming strain, which means it can help with the anxiety and stress often described as a secondary effect of having IBS.

ACDC cannabis strain
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Blueberry Diesel

Unlike some of the other strains mentioned here, Blueberry Diesel has a relatively high THC content compared to CBD, ranging from 14% to 23%. Despite this, it’s thought to give its users a relaxing high.

Blueberry Diesel is also helpful for managing nausea, a symptom that people with IBS often experience. Additionally, it can assist in reducing the anxiety associated with IBS.

blueberry diesel cannabis strain
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White Widow

White Widow is known for its ability to reduce chronic pain, and could be of use to people struggling with IBS-related symptoms. It is one of the best strains for this purpose, thanks to the balanced THC and CBD ratio, which activates the “entourage effect” (the theory that these two cannabinoids work better when taken together rather than separately).

close up white widow strain cannabis

Blue Dream

Blue Dream is another highly successful medical marijuana strain used for treating pain. With regard to managing IBS symptoms, anecdotal evidence suggests that Blue Dream can soothe stomach cramps and reduce nausea due to the two cannabinoids and myrcene terpene.

If you are a beginner cannabis user and want to experiment with it to see if it helps your IBS, Blue Dream is often suggested as an appropriate choice for newcomers. This is because users describe it as having a mellow taste rather than being too overpowering.

blue dream cannabis strain
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Frequently Asked Questions

Why does smoking weed help with my IBS?

Smoking weed interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which can help regulate the normal functioning of the GI tract. Although there needs to be more human-based research into the effect of cannabis on IBS, the cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis can reduce the pain, inflammation and secondary anxiety associated with IBS.

Will cannabis immediately help IBS symptoms?

The rate at which cannabis helps IBS symptoms depends on the method of ingestion. If you smoke or vape cannabis, you will notice the effects almost immediately. If you use edibles, it will take longer for cannabis to help with your IBS symptoms.

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