Indica or Sativa Strains for IBS? | CAC
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Indica or Sativa Strains for IBS?

Indica or Sativa for IBS?

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a prevalent gastrointestinal disorder. Common symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. Since there is currently no cure for IBS, the focus of treatment is on minimising its impact on the patient’s quality of life. 

In recent years, medical cannabis has received increasing attention as a potential treatment for IBS. Cannabis is known for its ability to influence the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This plays a crucial role in regulating gut function and inflammation. 

Key takeaways

  • Comprehensive Treatment: Both Indica and Sativa strains offer invaluable benefits for managing the symptoms of IBS. It’s essential to consider a holistic approach that incorporates physical, mental, and emotional health strategies.
  • Inflammation Management: Sativa strains are particularly beneficial for reducing inflammation, a critical factor in IBS flare-ups, thereby potentially easing physical symptoms and discomfort.
  • Mental and Emotional Support: Cannabis strains can play a pivotal role in boosting mood and energy levels, offering mental and emotional relief which is crucial for IBS sufferers who face daily challenges due to their condition.
  • Legal and Safe Use: It is imperative to use medical cannabis within the legal frameworks and guidelines provided. In the UK, this means consuming it in approved forms (not smoking) and adhering to the legalities surrounding its use, including driving restrictions.
  • Professional Guidance: Seeking advice and obtaining your prescription from a trusted and experienced medical professional is paramount. This ensures you receive the most suitable strains for your symptoms and medical history, providing a tailored approach to your IBS management.

 Indica or Sativa for IBS?

Medical research and studies on cannabis for IBS

Research on the use of cannabis for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is in its early stages, but initial findings are promising. While further research is necessary, current studies indicate that cannabis could be beneficial in the management of IBS symptoms.

Several studies have explored the effectiveness of cannabis in treating IBS symptoms. Some research suggests that cannabinoids can reduce pain and cramping and improve overall bowel function (hence alleviating diarrhoea and constipation). These effects may be attributed to the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of cannabinoids.

It is, however, important to highlight that the effectiveness of cannabis for IBS may vary between individuals. Some people may experience significant symptom relief, while others may have a more limited response. Factors such as the type and severity of IBS symptoms, individual sensitivity to cannabinoids and the specific strain and dosage used can all influence the outcomes.

Indica strains for IBS

In the context of managing the symptoms of IBS, the main benefit of Indica strains is their ability to soothe abdominal pain and cramping. Furthermore, Indica strains can promote effective and comfortable digestion by alleviating these symptoms.

More broadly, Indica strains can help to reduce stress. This is particularly valuable for IBS sufferers, as stress is a known trigger for the condition.

Likewise, Indica-dominant options can also help promote sleep. Again, this is particularly useful for IBS sufferers as flare-ups can make it hard for them to get sufficient high-quality sleep. This can have a significant, negative impact on their overall health and well-being (physical and mental).

Indica strains generally have a slightly higher CBD content than Sativa options. CBD can also help to soothe inflammation. This is believed to play a role in triggering flare-ups of IBS.

Side effects of Indica strains

The main potential side effects of Indica strains are mental fog/fatigue, dry mouth/thirst, and hunger pangs. These effects are usually temporary and fade quickly.

Recommended Indica strains for IBS

Here are three recommended Indica strains for individuals with IBS. All three strains have the classic indica benefits of relaxation and pain relief.

Northern Lights: This is regarded as a classic Indica strain. In fact, it’s a direct descendant of the original Afghani indica. Northern Lights induces a deep sense of relaxation and tranquillity, helping to reduce muscle tension and promote a state of calmness. 

Granddaddy Purple: This is a relatively modern strain, believed to date to 2003. It is respected for its ability to provide deep mental and physical relaxation. This means that it’s highly effective at reducing muscle tension and, hence, relieving the pain this often causes.

OG Kush: This strain is believed to have been developed in Florida in the early 1990s. It has strong relaxing and calming properties, which can help alleviate stress, anxiety and muscle tension. This last quality means that it can do a lot to provide relief from the physical pain of IBS.

UK medical cannabis patients may not have access to the above options. Here are a few strains that are usually available to UK patients.

Tilray® T9:C9 Warlock: This Indica dominant option comes with a balanced level of both THC and CBD (9% of each), making it a great choice for pain management without inducing too much of a “high” feeling.

Mamedica® GEL T25 Black Garlic: This strain has a higher THC content (25%) compared to the previous one, making it a good option for later in the day.

Big Narstie® T27 Glitter Bomb: The 27% THC content of this Indica dominant strain makes it a potent choice for pain relief and perfect for those struggling to find sleep.

 Indica or Sativa for IBS?

Sativa strains for IBS

In the context of managing the symptoms of IBS, the main benefit of Sativa strains is their ability to soothe inflammation. As previously mentioned, this is strongly implicated in flare-ups of IBS.

More broadly, Sativa strains can help boost a person’s energy and mood. They can therefore help to counterbalance the mental and emotional toll of IBS. For example, using a Sativa strain may help motivate IBS sufferers to be more active. In turn, getting more exercise (and more regular exercise) can benefit their physical and mental health.

Side effects of Sativa strains

The main potential side effects of sativa strains are excessive physical and/or mental energy, heightened sensory perception (e.g. sensitivity to light) and dry mouth and/or eyes. As with indica strains, these effects are usually temporary and fade quickly.

Recommended Sativa strains for IBS

Here are three recommended indica strains for individuals with IBS. All three strains have the classic sativa benefits of inflammation reduction, increased energy and mood enhancement.

Sour Diesel: This strain is believed to have been created by accident in New York around the mid-1990s. It’s since become a highly-respected and popular strain due to its uplifting and energising properties. These enable it to provide meaningful stress relief and motivation to get on with life.

Jack Herer: Jack Herer: This strain was developed around the 1980s or 1990s and was named after the respected American cannabis-rights activist. Jack Herer (the plant) has become highly respected in its own right. In particular, it’s known for its ability to combat fatigue and improve both mood and mental clarity.

Green Crack: This strain is believed to date back to the 1990s. Its name was chosen to highlight its potency. It has absolutely no connection whatsoever with crack cocaine. Green Crack is known to be highly energising and stimulating. It also enhances mental clarity and encourages a general sense of well-being.

Again, these three options may not be available to UK medical cannabis patients. Here are a few strains that are typically available to UK patients.

Noidecs® T20 Royal Moby: This Sativa dominant option has a THC content of 20% and is well-suited for daytime use as it provides a boost in energy and mood without causing excessive fatigue.

Big Narstie® T26 Moroccan Peaches: Moroccan Peaches is a mostly Sativa option that is receiving rave reviews for its ability to reduce inflammation and provide a calming mental boost without causing drowsiness. This makes it a great choice for daytime use.

Fraser Valley® T18 Blue Dream: Blue Dream has long been the go-to strain for many medicinal patients. It is known for its balanced effects that provide a gentle lift in mood and energy while still providing relief from inflammation and pain. 

 Indica or Sativa for IBS?

FAQs

Can medical cannabis patients legally smoke their prescribed medication?

In the UK, smoking medical cannabis is illegal. Instead, it must be vaporised or taken in the form of capsules, oils, oral sprays or topical ointments.

Can medical cannabis patients drive while using their prescribed medication?

No, if you are feeling any psychoactive effects, then driving is strictly prohibited. It’s important to follow the instructions provided by your specialist doctor and wait until you feel safe to operate a vehicle.

Can I grow my own medical cannabis for personal use?

No, in the UK, it is currently illegal to grow your own medical cannabis. All medical cannabis must be prescribed and sourced from a licensed producer.

Will medical cannabis get me high?

It depends on the strain and the individual’s reaction to it. Some strains may have higher levels of THC, which is the psychoactive component in cannabis that can cause a “high” feeling. However, the idea behind taking medical cannabis is usually for its medicinal benefits, not for recreational purposes. It’s important to discuss potential side effects with your doctor and find the right strain for your needs and preferences.

Final thoughts

Both Indica and Sativa strains have the potential to offer significant relief for the symptoms of IBS. Picking one specific option may be the wrong way to go about things, with both offering different benefits.

Instead, it may be worth exploring both types and finding the best strains for your individual needs. This can be done with the guidance of a trusted specialist doctor who is both registered to, and experienced in prescribing medical cannabis for IBS. There are a bunch of private medical cannabis clinics for you to choose from, and hopefully, the medical cannabis clinic reviews posted here will help you find the best one for your needs.