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Cannabinoids are a group of chemicals that come from the cannabis plant (cannabis sativa). Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of these chemicals and studies have suggest that it has anti inflammatory effects when induced in animals. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is another one of these compounds that wields a psychotropic effect in animals. Cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) are found in the endocannabinoid system and allow cannabinoids to bind and do their job in the body. In this review, the role of the endocannabinoid system in gastrointestinal physiology is discussed and medical cannabis is seen as a potential treater of Irritable bowel syndrome.
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Endocannabinoid system is a target for anti inflammatory drugs
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a range of disorders depicted by abdominal pain, associated with modulated bowel behaviour. Though gut movement, secretion and sensation may be changed in people with IBS, the pathophysiology of this syndrome still remains to be fully known. The endocannabinoid system is involved in the regulation of numerous gastrointestinal functions including motility, sensation and secretion under both physiological and pathophysiological situations. Triggering of cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors under various circumstances reduces bowel movement, limits secretion and reduce hypersensitivity in the gut. Drugs that change the amount of endocannabinoids in the gut also decrease motility and alleviate inflammation. This paper considers the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in the context of medical conditions associated with IBS and a possible role of this system in the pathophysiology and treatment of symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Cannabinoids could alleviate IBS
It might be to early in the day to speculate whether or not the endocannabinoid system is in cahoots with the pathophysiology of IBS. However, there are many possible parts in this system and whether through lacking of endocannabinoid, CB receptor defects, enzyme defects affecting endocannabinoid synthesis or breakdown, the endocannabinoid system could contribute to the symptoms of IBS. For certain factors affected in the pathophysiology of IBS, such as changed intestinal motility, for example, involvement of the endocannabinoid system appears plausible and pharmacological targeting of the endocannabinoid system may be indeed beneficial. On the other hand, the role of the endocannabinoid system in other places possibly involved in the pathophysiology of IBS is not well known. For example, it is unknown whether the endocannabinoid system plays a part in the psychosocial dimensions of IBS. Furthermore, although the endocannabinoid system is involved in stress responses in laboratory animals, it is not known whether it is involved in emotional stress, a well-known exacerbating factor in the symptom severity of many IBS patients. Recent evidence supporting an important role for the endocannabinoid system in the pathophysiology of at least one form of IBS warrants further investigation. Besides exploring the role of the endocannabinoid system in the pathophysiology IBS, cannabinoid agents might be treatment options for IBS patients by targeting the underlying alterations in motility, inflammation, pain and sensation. Clinical trials would be helpful in elucidating the potential benefit of medical marijuana in IBS.