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Probiotics And Cannabis: What Health Providers Should Know

Where does cannabis fit in with the intricate tapestry of bacteria and enzymes in the gut? We’re here to explain.

The rise in cannabis and its various correlated products are bringing about attitudinal perceptions and changes. The new mindset is in how we think about traditional antibiotics, and how we create responsive treatments of gut health. There is increasing anecdotal evidence of the efficacy of cannabis in treating various gastrointestinal conditions.

Microscopic bacteria, known as microbiomes, are organisms that go a long way to improving gastrointestinal health. They are a diverse collection of microorganisms that line the inner walls of your gut, like sticky wallpaper.

There are two types of supportive bacteria. The first, prebiotics, have their basis in the health benefits of plant fiber. They serve an essential function, acting as a sort of fertilizer to stimulate the growth of bacteria and support digestion in your gut lining.  

The second type, probiotics, are mostly live bacteria or yeasts sourced from fermented foods. Mayo Clinic states that probiotics are different than prebiotics in that they contain live organisms, precisely many types of bacterial organisms, which effectively help balance the healthy microbes. The most common probiotic food that everyone knows is yogurt with live cultures. Yogurt is milk fermented with many different types of bacteria. Beyond yogurt, other fermented foods include sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi. Seek a dietitian or medical professional if you want to research what types of gastrointestinal supplements to recommend to patients and clients.

Companies market probiotics as supplements. There are two things to keep in mind in recommending probiotics. First, there are many types of probiotic supplements, and second, the different levels or concentrations of supplements can often be confusing. For example, lactobacillus is a popular strain…of which there are 120 different species.

Probiotics are not an automatic, overlapping fix in search of a specific gastrointestinal condition. It is essential here to recommend the right probiotic with the correct gastrointestinal diagnosis.  

There is not a  “one probiotic fits all situations” set of circumstances. Some individuals reported symptoms of digestive problems (such as gas and bloating) upon initial consumption of probiotics. 

According to AZO Life Sciences, there is a healthy body of evidence that supports the existence of the “gut-endocannabinoid axis” where both gut barrier function and intestinal permeability have improved upon the addition of probiotic bacteria. This reaction results from the increase in select endocannabinoids concomitant with a decrease in others. 

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The interactions between the gut microorganisms and the endocannabinoid system govern the integrity of the gut barrier, which directly influences health. Cannabis is one drug that bridges the endocannabinoid system and the gut microbiome.

Where does cannabis fit in with this intricate tapestry of bacteria and enzymes? Both gut barrier function and intestinal permeability improve upon the addition of probiotic bacteria, mediated by the increase in select endocannabinoids concomitant with the decrease in others.  The right level of cannabis products will show improvements. 

The anecdotal evidence of the efficacy of cannabis in various gastrointestinal disorders can often show correlation with the discovery of endogenous cannabinoids, receptors, and synthetic and degradative enzymes in the gut.  

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