With the indulgent holiday season around the corner (Thanksgiving was just the warm-up), your gut might need a little tune-up. And scientists are finding some beneficial connections between the gut and cannabis.
Gut: Population of Millions
There are cannabinoid receptors throughout our bodies, including our brains and gastrointestinal tract. Our bodies naturally produce our own versions of THC and CBD — known as endocannabinoids — which act on these cannabinoid.
These endocannabinoids have been shown to impact our gut’s microbial population — the millions upon millions of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms in our gastrointestinal tract. This microbiota population not only contributes to our digestive health but can help bolster immune systems, reduce inflammation, and defend against pathogens.
Reducing Gut Inflammation With Cannabis
One recent study from the University of Connecticut showed higher levels of anandamide, an endocannabinoid chemically akin to THC, helped increase the population and activity of macrophage in the upper gut (esophagus, stomach, and pancreas). Macrophage are immune cells that subdue inflammation.
Is THC the New Weight Watchers?
Another study in Canada suggests frequent cannabis users may be less prone to obesity compared to non-users. The study found that mice fed a daily high-fat diet along with THC gained significantly less weight than those not given THC. In addition, THC-treated mice consumed fewer calories than the control group over time.
The researchers also found that long-term use of THC in the mice prevented changes in the gut microbiota that are typically linked with diet-induced obesity. These changes include increased gut permeability, which contributes to inflammation and new fat formation.
The Gut and Cannabis
The relationship between the gut and cannabis still needs to be explored. But there’s certainly a connection between the two beyond just “munchies.”
Of course, every body and every body’s microbiota is different, impacting how our bodies process cannabis and how cannabis impacts our bodies. While we wait for science to catch up, it might be helpful to listen to our own gut on cannabis.