How does hashish have an effect on the intestine microbiome?

For health-conscious people, everything revolves around the gut microbiome and the gut-brain connection. The gut microbiome is a fundamental part of us – a sizable six pounds of your body weight can be attributed to the trillions of bacteria, viruses, and microbes that live deep within your gut. For the past decade, researchers have delved deep into gut health to find out how these microscopic organisms affect various body functions.

This growing interest has led researchers to think about: What is the relationship between cannabis and the gut? How do cannabis and the endocannabinoid system interact with all of the tiny microbes that live in our digestive tract?

Get to know your gut microbiome

The intestine is another name for the gastrointestinal tract, which begins at the esophagus and ends at the anus. Billions of bacteria, viruses and fungi live in it.

In equilibrium, these microbes are generally in symbiosis with us and help to stimulate and regulate the immune system, break down potentially toxic food, synthesize essential vitamins and amino acids, and strengthen the intestinal barrier. The intestinal barrier is a semi-permeable structure that lines the intestine, which allows nutrients to be absorbed and prevents the ingress of pathogenic molecules and bacteria.

Sometimes gut microbes can cause an imbalance known as gut dysbiosis. A number of factors can set this in motion: a diet high in fat, high in sugar or low in fiber, daily alcohol consumption or the consumption of products with pesticide residues. If left uncontrolled, bowel dysbiosis can contribute to chronic gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The intestinal microbiota also play a role in the development of obesity, with people who are overweight or obese have a reduced microbial diversity. An unbalanced gut microbiome has also been linked to various mood and neurological disorders such as autism, anxiety, and depression. And a healthy gut microbiome has been shown to promote brain development, cognition and behavior, and promote healthy mental health.


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“When you take a closer look at the intestinal environment, you begin to see that there is more to it than this vast spectrum of bacteria and other organisms,” said Jason Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of HempFusion Wellness and CEO of Probulin Probiotics. “There are hundreds of millions of neurons in the gut. In fact, there is a nerve that goes the route from the brain to the intestine and also connects other organs, including the lungs and heart. “

The influence of the intestinal microbiota is not limited to the gastrointestinal tract. This community of microbes also has a profound influence on vital processes in the brain and vice versa. This bidirectional flow of information is known as the gut-brain axis.

Intestinal-brain communication plays a fundamental role in gastrointestinal health, thinking and decision-making, and emotions. The gut-brain connection can occur, for example, when you are nervous about a presentation and get butterflies in your stomach or when you lose your appetite when you are afraid.

The endocannabinoid system and the gut microbiome

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an important system in the body that helps regulate mood, emotions, pain, appetite, and responses to stress. The ECS consists of cannabinoids that occur naturally in the body – so-called endocannabinoids -, cannabinoid receptors and enzymes, and extends over the brain, organs, connective tissue, glands, immune cells and the intestines.

The endocannabinoid system plays a central role in maintaining a balanced intestinal microbiome and also regulates vital intestinal functions. “Endocannabinoid receptors in the gut help regulate and support homeostasis with functions such as motility [movement of food through the gut], Digestion, inflammatory response, and even immunological responses, “said Mitchell.

The gut microbiome can also affect the endocannabinoid system. Dr. Dustin Sulak, medical cannabis expert and founder of, said there was evidence that poor gut microbial health can deleteriously affect the endocannabinoid system: a 2020 study in mice found that there was a dysbiotic gut microbiome unbalanced the endocannabinoid system and triggered depression behavior in mice.

How can intestinal dysbiosis affect the endocannabinoid system and lead to depression? The endocannabinoid system also plays a role in regulating the brain-gut axis and helping to convey changes in the gut to the brain. An unbalanced community of gut microbes can interfere with the functioning of the endocannabinoid system and lead to low moods.

Likewise, a balanced gut microbiome can contribute to healthy endocannabinoid function and a positive mood.


What is the endocannabinoid system and what role does it play?

How cannabis affects the gut microbiome and gut health

There is growing evidence that cannabis can support a healthy gut microbiome, gut-brain communication, and robust gut health in general.

Cannabinoids in cannabis can interact with cannabinoid receptors in the gut, and the plant has been used for thousands of years to treat symptoms of inflammation and gastrointestinal disorders such as abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

It also looks like THC may be able to alter the gut microbiome to protect against weight gain. When obese mice were given THC, they retained their lean microbiome and did not become obese. THC also helped reduce certain symptoms related to obesity, including low-level inflammation and intestinal permeability, which occur when toxins or bacteria enter the bloodstream from the intestines.

“As for human evidence, one study found that cannabis users’ microbiome had fewer bacteria associated with obesity,” Sulak said. This finding could help explain why frequent cannabis users are less likely to be obese than non-users, even though THC can cause a serious case of nibbles.


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Other fascinating research suggests that cannabis may also help treat alcohol use disorders, which adversely affect the gut microbiome. Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to intestinal inflammation, the suppression of immune cells in the intestinal lining, and the overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the microbiome.

The combined effects of these damage can also result in leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, in which food particles, bacteria and waste products enter the bloodstream directly. The study’s authors reported that CBD – and cannabis in general – can reduce intestinal permeability, regulate gut bacteria, and decrease intestinal inflammation.

In a 2019 preclinical mouse study, a combination of THC and CBD was found to promote a healthy gut microbiota and high levels of certain short chain fatty acids in the colon that boost immune function and boost metabolism. These acids can also help maintain a healthy central nervous system and improve communication between the brain and the gut.

Cannabis can also contribute to intestinal and brain health in other ways: cannabinoids stabilize the blood-brain barrier and reduce both intestinal inflammation and neuroinflammation. Inflammation in the gut and brain can affect brain health and function.

The relationship between cannabis, the endocannabinoid system, and the gut microbiome is complex and important, and we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface, Sulak said.

Mitchell speculated that terpenes and other smaller cannabinoids might come up for discussion in the future.

“There are several cannabinoids and terpenes that are of particular interest to me as they have profound effects on the gut and the ECS by helping balance stress, inflammatory response, and immune support,” he said. “I love beta caryophyllene, CBD and CBN. These three components require further research, but it seems obvious that great things will be identified here in the future. “

Emma Stone

Emma Stone is a New Zealand-based journalist specializing in cannabis, health and wellbeing. She has a Ph.D. in sociology and has worked as a researcher and lecturer, but loves writing above all. She would love to spend her days writing, reading, outdoor hiking, eating, and swimming.

View article by Emma Stone

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