Gastrointestinal diseases refer to diseases involving the gastrointestinal tract, namely the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and rectum, and the accessory organs of digestions, the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.

Oesophageal diseases include a spectrum of disorders affecting the oesophagus. The most common condition of the oesophagus in Western countries is gastroesophageal reflux disease, which in chronic forms is thought to result in changes to the epithelium of the oesophagus, known as Barrett’s oesophagus.

Stomach diseases refer to diseases affecting the stomach. Inflammation of the stomach by infection from any cause is called gastritis, and when including other parts of the gastrointestinal tract called gastroenteritis. When gastritis is persists in a chronic state, it is associated with several diseases, including atrophic gastritis, pyloric stenosis, and gastric cancer. Another common condition is gastric ulceration, causing peptic ulcers. Ulceration erodes the gastric mucosa, which protects the tissue of the stomach from the stomach acids. Peptic ulcers are most commonly caused by a bacterial Helicobacter pylori infection.

The small and large intestines may be affected by infectious, autoimmune, and physiological states. Inflammation of the intestines is called enterocolitis, which may lead to diarrhoea.

Medical Marijuana Efficacy

Preclinical studies demonstrate that activation of the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors exert biological functions on the gastrointestinal tract. Effects of their activation in animals include suppression of gastrointestinal motility, inhibition of intestinal secretion, reduced acid reflux, and protection from inflammation, as well as the promotion of epithelial wound healing in human tissue.

Specifically, researchers found that subjects who consumed cannabis “significantly reduced” their need for other medications. Participants in the trial also reported requiring fewer surgeries following their use of cannabis. “Fifteen of the patients had 19 surgeries during an average period of nine years before cannabis use, but only two required surgery during an average period of three years of cannabis use,” authors reported. They concluded: “The results indicate that cannabis may have a positive effect on disease activity, as reflected by a reduction in disease activity index and in the need for other drugs and surgery.”