Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease that is triggered when sufferers eat gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. When the body of someone with celiac disease detects gluten in their digestive tract it results in damage to the villi. When the villi, small finger like projections in the lining of the small intestine, become damaged the absorption of key nutrients is limited, which can lead to weight loss and other nutrient deficiency related problems. The symptoms of celiac disease include stomach pain, problems with digestion, migraines, weight loss, and many more. Though the symptoms can be mostly controlled by avoiding gluten, celiac patients can experience flare-ups when there is cross-contamination of gluten into their food.
A 2013 study by the National Institute of Health found that cannabis may help treat celiac disease by activating the endocannabinoid system in the body. The research was conducted by the University of Teramo in Italy and it looked at the expression of cannabinoid receptors in the body by observing their transcriptional and transitional levels in the duodenal mucosa, the lining of the portion of the small intestine that leads to the stomach. The researchers looked at these levels in untreated celiac patients, celiac patients who have not had gluten for twelve months, and a control group of patients without celiac disease. The study found that cannabis has a high therapeutic potential for targeting the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the stomach, showing that cannabis can have a direct effect on the overall well-being of the intestinal tract, rather than just help with general pain relief for celiac patients.
There are large amounts of anecdotal evidence to support the findings of the study conducted by the National Institute of Health. Cannabis has a long history of being used to treat gastrointestinal disorders because it can act as an antiemetic and an analgesic. Medical marijuana can help decrease nausea, promote appetite, and ease abdominal cramping, all which are common symptoms of celiac sufferers when they encounter gluten. The [Institute of Medicine reported](http://www.safeaccessnow.org/gastrointestinal_disorders_booklet# research) that for patients, “who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad spectrum relief not found in any other single medication.” Cannabis can work on the endocannabinoid receptors found in the stomach lining to ease pain and reduce inflammation in patients with celiac disease.
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