Cannabis has been making big news ever since it was legalized in numerous states across the country. And people are now using everything from tinctures and creams to capsules and gummies featuring the compounds from the marijuana plant, known as cannabinoids, to feel and live better.
In fact, CBD from cannabis is now playing a role in relieving achy joints and helping patients with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. It’s even been shown in studies to affect more than 70 percent of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s entry points.
And now, according to a new study, cannabis and its derivatives may even be your best defense against pathogenic gut bacteria that cause infection.
Your endocannabinoid system
You see, what many people don’t realize is that your body has what’s known as an endocannabinoid system. This system helps control the level of pain you feel, regulate your hunger, alter your mood, affect your immunity, and basically keep your body in balance.
And a part of this system is signaling molecules call endocannabinoids.
They tell the system what to do and when to do it. They’re also super similar to the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, and therefore CBD.
And studies have shown if your body’s endocannabinoid system is out of whack, it can lead to intestinal inflammation and change the makeup of your gut microbiota — the population of bacteria that inhabit your digestive tract.
Because of this, cannabis and its derivatives have long been used to relieve chronic GI problems, like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
Beyond inflammation to infection
This got researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center wondering…
If cannabinoids can block inflammation in the gut, could they also block infectious bacteria that often start the inflammation cascade in the first place?
So they tested their theory.
The scientists genetically altered one group of mice to overproduce one of the body’s endocannabinoids, called 2-AG. Then, they infected the mice, along with a control group, who lacked the amped-up cannabinoid protection with a big-time bacterial danger — Citrobacter rodentium, a pathogen that attacks the colon and causes marked inflammation and diarrhea.
And guess what…
It’s cannabinoids for the win!
That’s right, the mice whose body’s had more endocannabinoids to rely on developed only mild symptoms compared with the more extreme gastrointestinal distress of the control group. They also benefited from far lower gut inflammation and cleared out the infection days earlier!
The team then decided to test it out with another, even more dangerous bacteria, which also infects humans — Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli.
And once again, mice with higher levels of endocannabinoids had protection that the endocannabinoid-poor group just didn’t.
After analyzing all of their data, the researchers say that it all comes down to the fact that the endocannabinoids were capable of blocking a bacterial receptor in the gut to prevent the virulence (infection potential) of the bacteria from activating.
They also say that based on their findings, it’s possible that cannabis compounds could eventually help patients kick intestinal bacterial infections without antibiotics.
As study leader Vanessa Sperandio, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and biochemistry at UTSW puts it, “By harnessing the power of natural compounds produced in the body and in plants,” she says, “we may eventually treat infections in a whole new way.”
Keeping your gut healthy
So if you’re looking to keep your gut healthy, or if you’re already living with gut issues, leveraging the power of your body’s endocannabinoid system could be the answer you’re looking for.
You can try a CBD supplement or try upping your intake of cannabimimetic foods that support your endocannabinoid system and mimic the action of cannabinoids, like:
- Cacao — Packed with anandamide (an endocannabinoid produced in your brain)
- Omega-3s — Good fats found in fatty fish, walnuts and spinach which are converted by your body into endocannabinoids
- Holy basil — Also known as tulsi, and an excellent herbal tea that delivers β-caryophyllene, a cannabis mimicking powerhouse to reduce inflammation and pain
- Echinacea — An immunity booster that binds to cannabinoid receptors
Editor’s note: Have you heard of the entourage effect? Dozens of studies show it is now the most effective way to get the most out of a CBD supplement. If full-spectrum, doctor-approved, highly bioavailable CBD oil is for you, click here!
Why cannabis is a better pain-reliever than aspirin — Easy Health Options
CBD may have potential to block coronavirus entry points — Easy Health Options
What cannabis can do for Crohn’s and colitis — Easy Health Options
How to support your body’s cannabinoid system without going up in smoke — Easy Health Options
Sport and memory go hand in hand — EurekAlert!