Can Smoking Medical Marijuana Cause Diarrhea

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Written by Sindy Brent on 03/11/2024.
Data Last Updated: 05/30/2024.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Aaron Lee Wiegmann Author avatar Medically reviewed by Dr. Aaron Lee Wiegmann Dr. Wiegmann is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Chicago. Although he specializes in aesthetic surgery and reconstruction of the face, breast, and body, his medical knowledge is vast. He is passionate about medical research on the health benefits of any naturally occurring substance,...

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As the global acceptance and use of marijuana grow, many questions arise about its effects on our health. One query that’s been on the minds of both casual users and medical professionals alike is, “can weed cause diarrhea?” This article delves into the intricate relationship between cannabis and our digestive system. 

Doctors prescribe marijuana in various forms such as joints and edibles to:

  • Alleviate pain caused by conditions like cancer, digestive disorders, and surgical interventions.
  • Mitigate symptoms of migraines and chronic, unexplained pains.
  • Manage muscle spasms linked to multiple sclerosis and seizures from epilepsy.
  • Treat insomnia and restore a healthy sleep cycle.
  • Address anxiety and depression.
  • Aid in appetite regulation and weight gain, among other uses.

Some studies suggest marijuana can be helpful in managing symptoms of diarrhea and constipation. However, it’s essential to note that there are also reports of marijuana causing these issues.

Diarrhea And Weed — Is There Any Connection

Сan weed cause diarrhea?

Сan weed cause diarrhea?

The connection between marijuana and stomach problems, including diarrhea, is supported by several studies. The gastrointestinal tract is influenced by the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which marijuana impacts. Components of marijuana, primarily THC and CBD, have been shown to influence the digestive system. Some users have reported digestive upsets, such as diarrhea, after using marijuana or marijuana-infused oils.

A noteworthy study that delved into this topic was conducted from 2005 to 2010 and utilized data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, encompassing 9,645 US adults aged 20-59 years. The primary objective was to evaluate the impact of recreational marijuana use on self-reported bowel function. Key findings include:

  • Constipation prevalence was found to be lower among recent marijuana users in comparison to past or non-users (7.5% vs 10.2%, P = 0.03).
  • Recent marijuana usage was linked to a 30% reduced likelihood of constipation. Even after adjusting for several variables like age, demographic factors, comorbidities, other substance uses, general health condition, emotional disturbances, and diet, this association remained significant.
  • There was no observed relationship between recent marijuana use and diarrhea.

This study offers a comprehensive view suggesting that contrary to the traditionally understood physiological effects of cannabinoids on colonic motility, recent marijuana use in the sampled US adult population was tied to reduced odds of constipation.

Positive Effects of Weed

Positive Effects of Weed Diarrhea

In most cases, weed improves the work of our digestive system. Cannabis can be very helpful in treating the inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, ileitis, nausea, vomiting, etc. There are several studies that provide evidence for these benefits of weed. Scientific research has shown that some patients were able to stop taking other drugs after marijuana administration for their GI disorders. Most of the study participants reported about less frequent bowel movements, less loose stools, and alleviated abdominal pain.

Also, some studies show that patients with inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, can experience improved symptoms simply by using marijuana. In 2010, researchers at the University of Nottingham found that chemicals in cannabis interact with body cells that play an important role in gut function and immune responses. Although it has shown promise in the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases, marijuana cannot be considered the only medicine—and has not yet been proven by scientists as an effective treatment that works in 100% of cases.

Negative Effects of Weed

Negative Effects of Weed Diarrhea

Along with common adverse reactions to cannabis, like abnormal heart rate, dizziness, altered thinking, hallucinations, appetite changes, low blood pressure, bad mood, panic attacks, etc., in some cases we observe such gastrointestinal side effects as:

  • Repeated vomiting and diarrhea
  • Nausea 
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Tender and painful stomach
  • Slow gastric motility, which is associated with unpleasant and painful sensations in the stomach

These issues usually happen only after daily heavy weed use for many years.

How to Recognize Weed-Induced Diarrhea and Constipation

How to Recognize Weed-Induced Diarrhea and Constipation

Try to make observations and track your body responses to cannabis.

The symptoms of diarrhea from weed are:

  • Loose stool
  • Stomach cramps
  • Frequent need to use the bathroom
  • Nausea
  • Meteorism

Constipation from pot manifests itself as:

  • Rare and hard stool
  • Going to the toilet less than three times weekly
  • Inability to empty your bowels
  • Appetite loss
  • Bloating

If the symptoms occur regularly, the best advice is to seek medical assistance. It is a possible reason to change your treatment plan and cease cannabis use.

In addition to the symptoms mentioned earlier, there is another condition that can result from cannabis use: cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). CHS is a condition that is characterized by cyclical vomiting, abdominal pain, and compulsive hot water bathing. While the exact cause of CHS is unknown, it is believed to be related to the body’s endocannabinoid system. If you experience these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Studies have shown that CHS is becoming more prevalent as cannabis use becomes more widespread.

The effect of a combination of marijuana and tobacco

In addition to CHS, it’s important to be aware that diarrhea from cannabis use can also be caused by mixing cannabis with tobacco. A study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics found that nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, has a laxative effect on the digestive system. If you are experiencing diarrhea from cannabis use, it’s important to consider whether you are also smoking cigarettes or mixing cannabis with tobacco.

If facing regular diarrhea or constipation from weed, you should first make sure that these issues are not related to other severe health problems:

  • Anal fissure
  • Gastrointestinal cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD

Do Edibles Cause Diarrhea More Than Smoking?

The answer isn’t straightforward and often hinges on the other ingredients used in the edible, rather than the active cannabis components like THC or CBD.

What’s in Your Edible? The Culprits Behind Gastrointestinal Issues

  • Coconut Oil: Often used in cannabis edibles, especially in CBD products. While it can act as a remedy for constipation by accelerating the digestive tract, in some people, it may lead to digestive discomfort.
  • MCT Oil: Another popular carrier for CBD, MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil is known to cause digestive problems, particularly diarrhea, especially in individuals with existing GI disorders. This is attributed to its rapid absorption by the body, coupled with its tendency to draw water from the colon.
  • Lecithin: To make certain edibles like gummies, the ingredients often need to include both oil and water. Since these two don’t naturally mix, emulsifiers like lecithin are added. This addition ensures an even distribution of THC throughout the product and extends its shelf life. On top of that, lecithin can accelerate the absorption of cannabis, leading to faster and more potent effects.Known side effects include bloating, nausea, and, notably, diarrhea. Yet, it’s essential to understand that not everyone will experience these side effects, with many consuming lecithin-containing edibles without any digestive complications.

If you suspect your edible cannabis products are leading to unwanted gastrointestinal effects, a good starting point is to check the ingredients. If there’s a noticeable improvement in your symptoms after eliminating a particular ingredient, it’s likely the cause.


Conclusion Diarrhea

The cases of severe adverse effects of marijuana are very rare. There are no reported deaths caused by weed, and all side effects usually pass with time. Problems with stool are not an exception. Diarrhea may occur, but often is a sign of chronic overuse. Talk to your doctor and follow their professional recommendations about dosing, try to change the strain, or another ingestible form of medical cannabis. It will help you avoid gastrointestinal upset and enjoy weed without any negative consequences.

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  • Adelyn 06/01/2023 20:32:38
    This is so interesting because I only recently in this last year have started experiencing stomach cramps daily, diarrhea daily, nausea etc. I think it really does relate to smoking weed because only in 2021-2022 I started smoking weed heavily on a daily basis. Never had this much issues with my stomach or bowels before.
  • Oliver 04/21/2023 05:51:41
    Wow, never thought about the link between smoking medical marijuana and diarrhea before! This article really opened my eyes to the possible side effects that aren't usually talked about. I wonder if this happens to a lot of people, or if it's just a rare occurrence? Also, are there any specific strains known for causing these issues more often? Anyway, thanks for the info, Dr. Weedy! Keep the interesting articles coming!
  • Oliver 04/21/2023 05:50:53
    Wow, never thought about the link between smoking medical marijuana and diarrhea before! This article really opened my eyes to the possible side effects that aren't usually talked about. I wonder if this happens to a lot of people, or if it's just a rare occurrence? Also, are there any specific strains known for causing these issues more often? Anyway, thanks for the info, Dr. Weedy! Keep the interesting articles coming!
  • George 04/21/2023 05:50:15
    Interesting read, Dr. Weedy! It's not often that we see discussions about potential side effects like diarrhea when it comes to medical marijuana use. Your article provides valuable insights into the possible connections between cannabis and digestive issues. I was wondering, though, if the method of consumption (e.g., smoking, vaping, or edibles) might have an impact on the likelihood of experiencing such side effects? It would be great to know if one method is potentially less likely to cause digestive issues than another. Keep up the informative work!
  • Denis 03/22/2023 01:15:31
    I have been smoking medical cannabis for a very long time and have only had diarrhea after marijuana once in my life. I went to a doctor online and he advised me to stop smoking for a while. A day later, I started to feel a little better, and a week later I continued to smoke cannabis. I don't know what it was, but since then I have not had diarrhea anymore
  • John K. 03/01/2023 01:14:30
    I don't know about y'all guys, but I don't think that smoking medical marijuana can cause diarrhea if you use it properly. I mean, do not overdose it and it'll be alright. Of course, the fact of personal intolerance to the components is not excluded, but at least neither I nor my friends have any problems with this
  • Rpm 01/27/2023 15:41:12
    Diarrhea starts apx 2 days after you attempt to kick the habit.. im finding out now ha its like the body is purging the build up of thc oil and resins inside of you
  • Katt 10/28/2022 03:26:31
    Great article. I've definitely experienced both good benefits and a possible "I'm not so sure" GI disruptions. Makes me wonder about how marijuana effects my GI issues I have been battling but also it's been helping to.
  • Alex 10/03/2022 09:02:16
    I don't think cbd can really cause diarrhea if not neglected... Even water, if you drink too much of it, can cause a lot of problems in the body. CBD itself is very useful. Neither I nor my friends have ever felt like this! Just smoke marijuana correctly and do not exceed the allowed dose.
  • Michel’le M 06/15/2021 08:18:02
    Thank you, I’ll just slow it down every now in then. Daily exercise and lots of water helps me as well.
  • David 05/31/2021 02:07:49
    Diarrhea was invented by the devil himself =) Thanks for the article - it was quite useful.
  • Jacqui 05/30/2021 15:17:38
    Wow, who knew my abdominal issues was because of my usage, when I took a good hard look at my consumption, I have been rather greedy lately. I'll back off a bit and see if my stomachs happier.
  • Girly Girl 10/30/2020 04:41:18
    What a greaty and insightful blog post! adding this to follow! straights ups

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