IBS and Medical Cannabis

This month is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month. 


IBS affects between 6–18% of people worldwide and is also known as spastic colon, irritable colon, mucous colitis, and spastic colitis. IBS is an inflammatory bowel disease which is a different conditionIBS is a conglomeration of symptoms that occur together pain in the abdomenbloating and excess gas, mucus in the stool diarrhoea and constipation. IBS sufferers report differing severity and duration of the symptoms. However, it’s understood that the symptoms last at least 3 months for at least 3 days per month. In particularly severe cases, IBS can cause intestinal damage, but this is uncommon. 

The cause of IBS isn’t currently well understood, and diagnoseare often based on symptoms. Some believe that diet, poor sleephormones, stress and changes in gut bacteria may all trigger symptoms. Unfortunately, diet affects everyone differently which makes it challenging to understand the triggers for each patient. 

Other causes may be abnormalities in the gut flora (bacteria), severe gastrointestinal infections, and increased inflammation or overactive immune response in the digestive organs. 

Another cause may be abnormalities in the digestive system nerve function which causes poorly coordinated signals between the brain and intestines.  

Treatment options for IBS include diet changes, management of lifestyle and stress, medication and counselling. 

More than 50% of IBS sufferers report fatigue. IBS is related to insomnia – difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep and reporting of poor sleep quality. 

One study found that the intensity of their IBS symptoms predicted the severity of fatigue  (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23869173) 

Another study found that poor sleep predicted more severe IBS symptoms the following day (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25142761) 

To start this month, we’ve prepared an IBS case study for you. 

Betty Boop (not her real name), is a 32-year-old woman, who suffers from IBS. Her symptoms are chronic abdominal pain, diarrhoea, mucus and bloating. She was diagnosed with IBS on April 2017. She’d trialled multiple medications but found limited positive effects. She was also seen by specialist and dietician but was given little assistance besides dietary advice. She refused opioids due to her concern about addiction. 

Betty obtained a referral from her GP and consulted with our Doctors and was approved for Medical Cannabis. Since then, her symptoms have improved. She has less bloating, less diarrhoea and her mood has improved.  Her pain is still present but is manageableShe’s combining Medical Cannabis therapy with a healthy diet to improve her symptoms also. Betty suffered no side effects from Medical Cannabis which is great, but this isn’t the case for everyone 


Disclaimer: This is not an inducement to use Medicinal Cannabis. Medicinal Cannabis doesn’t work for everyone. If you think Medicinal Cannabis is right for you, please check with our doctors. 


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