Does CBD Oil Work For Gastroparesis? 3 Clinical Studies Say Yes!

Does CBD Oil Work For Gastroparesis? 3 Clinical Studies Say Yes!

Today’s article seeks to answer a simple query. Does CBD oil work for Gastroparesis? In order to successfully answer this query and determine the effectiveness of CBD oil and cannabis-based treatment, we first need to understand what Gastroparesis is.


What Is Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis is a condition that affects the normal movement of muscles in your stomach. This results in food staying in your stomach longer than it should. Doctors refer to this as delayed gastric emptying. Strong muscle contractions move food through your digestive tract. In gastroparesis, your stomach’s ability to move food through your digestive tract is slowed down significantly or stops working. This prevents your stomach from emptying itself properly causing a number of complications such as:

  • Heartburn
  • Acid reflux
  • Bloating
  • Stomach pain
  • An upset stomach
  • Vomiting undigested food
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Feeling full quickly when you eat
  • Lack of appetite and weight loss
  • Trouble controlling blood sugar

What Causes Gastroparesis?

According to the medical community, the cause of gastroparesis is unknown. For most people, it’s unclear as to what brought on their gastroparesis as doctors cannot determine its cause. However, the medical community has identified that gastroparesis affects more women than men.

Though unclear, the medical community believes that gastroparesis is caused by damage to a nerve called the Vagus Nerve. Your vagus nerve helps manage the complex processes in your digestive tract. One such process is the signaling of your stomach muscles to contract and push food into your small intestine.

A damaged vagus nerve cannot send signals to your stomach muscles. This prevents your stomach muscles from functioning properly. This causes food to remain in your stomach longer than necessary instead of moving into your small intestine for digestion. Your vagus nerve can be damaged by diseases such as diabetes, for example, or by surgery to your stomach or small intestine.

Diabetes is the most common attributed cause of gastroparesis. It damages nerves including your vagus nerve and specific cells in your stomach. Medications such as opioid pain relievers, antidepressants, high blood pressure meds, and allergy meds can lead to slow gastric emptying causing symptoms similar to gastroparesis. If you already have gastroparesis, these meds could actually make your condition worse. Other attributed causes of gastroparesis include:

  • Hypothyroidism (i.e. a lack of thyroid hormone)
  • Gastroenteritis (i.e. viral stomach infection/s)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Amyloidosis (i.e. deposit of protein fibers in tissues and organs)
  • Scleroderma (i.e. a connective tissue disorder that affects your skin, blood vessels, skeletal muscles, and internal organs)

What Are The Symptoms Of Gastroparesis?

The medical community states that gastroparesis patients do not display noticeable signs and symptoms. However, what we know is that gastroparesis interferes with the regular digestive process. The interference of the digestive process is known to cause the following symptoms:

  • Complications with blood sugar levels and nutrition
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling full after eating a few bites of food
  • Vomiting undigested food eaten a few hours earlier
  • Acid reflux
  • Abdominal bloating and pain
  • Lack of appetite and weight loss
  • Malnutrition

What Are Treatment Options For Gastroparesis?

According to the medical community, there’s no cure for gastroparesis. Depending on the attributed cause, gastroparesis can potentially be chronic. This means it can last a long time. Yet, there are steps you can take to manage and control it in order to gain some form of relief.

One of the best ways to control gastroparesis is to change your eating habits. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian. Your dietitian may recommend having 6 small meals a day instead of 3 big ones. Having more fluids and low-residue foods such as applesauce, low-fat broths, soups, juices, water, and sports drinks. And, if you have diabetes, controlling your blood sugar levels will prevent you from having serious issues. This will reduce the amount of food in your stomach and stop you from feeling too full.

Your dietitian may recommend avoiding high-fat foods and high-fiber foods. High-fat foods slow down digestion and high-fiber foods are generally hard to digest. Your dietitian will help you find other enjoyable foods that are easy for you to digest. Gravity can help with digestion as well as keep food and stomach acid from traveling up into your throat. It’s generally recommended not to lie down in the 2 – 3 hour window after eating but to go for a walk instead to assist the digestive process.

Depending on the attributed cause, your doctor may recommend prescription drugs. One example is Metoclopramide (Reglan), which you take before having a meal. It causes your stomach muscles to contract and move food along. It also helps with an upset stomach and vomiting. Its side effects include diarrhea, drowsiness, anxiety, and, on rare occasions, a serious neurological disorder.

Another example is a drug called Erythromycin. It’s an antibiotic that also causes stomach contractions to help move food along. Its side effects include diarrhea and the development of treatment-resistant bacteria if you take it for too long. You may also be prescribed Antiemetics, which helps keep nausea under control.

Your doctor may recommend injecting a botulinum toxin (aka Botox) into your pylorus. Your pylorus is the valve between your stomach and small intestine. Injecting botox into your pylorus relaxes it to keep it open for longer so your stomach can empty.

Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may be required to give you a feeding tube (jejunostomy tube). A feeding tube bypasses your stomach to get nutrients directly into your small intestine. This enables you to get nutrients into your bloodstream faster without food being held up in your stomach.

Another form of treatment your doctor may recommend is electrical stimulation. This is where electrodes are attached to your stomach wall to trigger digestive contractions. If your condition is severe enough, your doctor may recommend POP surgery, where POP stands for Per-Oral-Pyloromyotomy. This is where your doctor cuts your pylorus so food can empty into your small intestine easier.

Surgery is attributed to causing gastroparesis, yet, patients with obesity and diabetes tend to be elected for gastric bypass surgery. This is where surgeons create a small pouch at the top end of your stomach and attach it to the lower section of your small intestine. This procedure limits the amount of food you eat. If your case is severe enough, you may require intravenous (parenteral) nutrition. This is where nutrients are sent straight into your bloodstream via a catheter in a vein in your chest. This specific procedure is used for a very short time by doctors.

Does CBD Oil Work For Gastroparesis Treatment?

Yes, CBD oil does work for treating Gastritis. More specifically, CBD oil will help treat any inflammatory and pain symptoms associated with Gastroparesis. Cannabis-based treatment has been demonstrated in a scientific setting to improve the symptoms of gastroparesis dramatically, reduce gastric acid secretion, and increase gastric mucosal protective effects in your stomach.

How Effective Is CBD Oil For Treating Pain In Gastroparesis?

To answer this question, we need to look at the results of a 2019 refractory gastroparesis study. The results from this study will help you understand how effective cannabis-based treatment is for treating pain in Gastroparesis.

The aim of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of cannabinoids on gastroparesis symptoms. The study selected 24 patients with gastroparesis and refractory symptoms. This means their symptoms were resistant to treatment prior to the study.

To assess the effects of cannabis, the researchers used the Gastroparesis Cardinal Symptom Index (GCSI) and a 1 – 5 rating scale for abdominal pain. Patients rated their abdominal pain and completed a GCSI form before and after cannabis treatment. There was a minimum time window of 60 days of cannabis treatment between reporting intervals.

The patients were prescribed either dronabinol, medical marijuana (from a dispensary), or both. Dronabinol is a synthetic cannabinoid used to treat appetite loss, nausea, and vomiting to prevent weight loss in AIDS and cancer patients. The patients that received both cannabis treatments in the study received them sequentially. If dronabinol did not provide adequate symptom relief, then patients were administered herbal cannabis from a dispensary.

Results from the study revealed a significant improvement in the GCSI total symptom score and a statistically significant improvement in every GCSI symptom subgroup. The study also reported a significant improvement in the patient’s abdominal pain score after treatment. The patients reported a significant improvement in nausea, vomiting, fullness (after eating), bloating, and abdominal pain.

Fig. 1

cbd oil for gastroparesis
Comparison of Gastroparesis Cardinal Symptom Index (GCSI) composite symptom score and GCSI symptom subgroup scores before and after either cannabinoid treatment

Fig. 2

cbd oil for gastroparesis
Comparison of abdominal pain scores before and after either cannabinoid treatment, marijuana treatment alone, and dronabinol treatment alone

According to the researchers, cannabis represents a new treatment for this difficult-to-treat and burdensome condition. Cannabis clearly benefits patients suffering from gastroparesis because results from the study show a dramatic and significant improvement in symptoms.

Pain control is important in gastroparesis because up to 90 percent of gastroparetics report abdominal pain. Abdominal pain was significantly improved with cannabis treatment and this role in pain management represents a breakthrough for gastroparesis-associated abdominal pain treatment.

This study represents one of the first studies analyzing cannabis for the treatment of unyielding gastroparesis symptoms. Other therapies have rarely shown such beneficial results and cannabis represents a major treatment breakthrough for this condition.

The researchers observed that…

… when both cannabinoid treatments are analyzed individually, both therapies resulted in an improvement in the GCSI composite symptom score, all GCSI symptom subset scores, and abdominal pain scores, though ‘bloating/distention’ with dronabinol treatment did not reach a statistical significance. When compared directly, marijuana was superior in improving overall symptoms, though this seems mainly driven by significant superiority in improving abdominal pain.

The researchers concluded the study by stating that…

… cannabinoids dramatically improve refractory gastroparesis symptoms, including abdominal pain. Marijuana may be superior to dronabinol in improving these symptoms, though both cannabinoids seem to be promising as novel therapeutic options in gastroparesis.

In addition to this study is an anecdotal patient story published on the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation website. The story documents Joanne’s medical journey from being diagnosed with Gastroparesis, Hypothyroid, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, GERD, Acid Reflux, Fibromyalgia (FM), Osteoarthritis (OA), and Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) to using cannabis to successfully manager her symptoms. I encourage you to read her story in full, however, what I’d like to highlight is how medical cannabis had a positive impact on her life.

When Joanne started her cannabis treatment under medical supervision, she began on an Indica strain high in CBD and THC in dried flower form. She now utilizes CBD oil, THC oil, vape flowers, and edibles, and she even makes her own cannabis-infused lotions. Joanne states that she takes her CBD oil twice a day in the morning and afternoon, and she takes her THC oil at night. She vapes during the day to combat her severe nausea as vaping has fast-acting effects. She uses edibles because they have a longer-lasting effect and are more affordable for her. And lastly, her cannabis lotions help her with OA and DDD flare-ups.

Joanne states that cannabis saved her from getting a feeding tube and without cannabis she actually feels full 24/7 coupled with severe nausea. She recommends that anyone battling with gastroparesis should try cannabis therapy, especially where other medications have failed.

Joanne highlights that we all have a unique endocannabinoid system. And for many people battling with chronic pain and long-term incurable illnesses, their endocannabinoid system is imbalanced. Cannabis therapy along with diet and exercise can lead to a better quality of life.

How Effective Is CBD Oil For Treating Inflammation In Gastroparesis?

It’s safe to presume that where there is a pain in the human body there is inflammation. The two go hand in hand. Though this question may have been indirectly answered in the previous section, it does no harm to provide more support to drive the point home. Thus, to answer this question, we need to look at the results of a 2015 rodent model study and a 2018 alcoholic gastritis patient study. The results from these studies will help you understand how effective cannabis therapy is for providing anti-inflammatory effects in Gastroparesis.

In 2015, researchers set out to investigate the effect of cannabis on gastric acid secretion, gastric ulcers, oxidative stress, and inflammatory markers in the gastric mucosa of pylorus-ligated rats. Pylorus ligation is the surgical procedure of tying the pylorus tightly. A pylorus is a valve between the stomach and small intestine that opens and closes during digestion. Cannabis was administered daily for 4 weeks to the rats prior to pylorus ligation in divisions of 5, 10, and 20 mg/kg.

The study found that when cannabis is administered a month before pylorus ligation in a dose dependant manner produced the following results:

  • Decreased development of gastric mucosal damage
  • Reduced gastric acid output
  • Reduced gastric mucosal oxidative stress and inflammation

These results suggested to the researchers that:

… cannabis administered systemically exerts gastric mucosal protective effects against mucosal damage evoked by stimulation of gastric acid secretion, acidified aspirin or ethanol. These effects of cannabis are likely to involve inhibition of gastric acid and pepsin secretion, increased mucus, decreased oxidative stress and inflammation in gastric mucosa.

In 2018, researchers set out to investigate the impact of cannabis use on alcoholic gastritis among individuals with abusive alcohol use. The researchers were aware of the results of the previous rodent study where cannabis hampered gastritis and reduced gastric acidity. Gastritis is a general term used to describe a group of conditions that cause the inflammation of the protective lining of your stomach.

The researchers extracted hospital records from the 2014 Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) of adults 18 years and older who were diagnosed with abusive alcohol use. They used a tendency-based matching algorithm to match 30,738 groups of abusive cannabis users to an equal number of non-users. Using regression models and equations, the researchers measured the relative risk of alcoholic gastritis with cannabis use, and then with increasing levels of cannabis use.

The results from the study revealed that cannabis co-use with alcohol decreased the occurrence of alcoholic gastritis when compared to non-users of cannabis. The researchers found that there’s a 25% decreased probability of alcoholic gastritis in cannabis co-users. They also found that there’s a lower occurrence of alcoholic gastritis in cannabis-dependent users compared to both non-dependent cannabis users and non-cannabis users.

The researchers conclude the publication by stating that their…

…results demonstrate that when abusive alcohol users co-use cannabis, they were less likely to develop alcohol-associated gastritis. With the rising popularity of cannabis use and cannabis-infused alcoholic beverages, more studies might reveal the optimal composition of the cannabinoid contents of these beverages, to provide maximal protection from alcoholic gastritis.

In Closing…

CBD oil and cannabis therapy are effective and useful for the treatment of Gastroparesis. Specifically in regards to providing effective pain relief, anti-inflammatory effects, and gastric mucosal protective effects in your stomach. The studies highlighted in today’s article clearly show how effective cannabis therapy is for treating the major symptoms of Gastroparesis.

Moving forward, there should NOT be a doubt in your mind that you will be able to achieve effective treatment results from CBD oil use for inflammation, pain, and stomach lining protection. However, please keep in mind that you will need to pay attention to what you put in your body. Just because cannabis therapy works scientifically to treat gastroparesis does not mean you can be careless with your alcohol and food consumption.

Your challenge now lies in finding a suitable CBD oil solution that will assist you in getting positive results. Regarding inflammation, CBD alone has been scientifically proven to provide anti-inflammatory effects. However, regarding pain, the best scientifically proven solution is CBD and THC in a 1:1 ratio. This will be challenging to find commercially as current regulation limits the amount of THC availability to either 0.3% or 0.2% in a given CBD oil product based on your location.

However, some researchers have stated that high enough doses of CBD-dominant solutions can provide pain relief effects. Yet, what those dose levels look like is unknown at the moment. Hence, it is best to work with a pro-cannabis medical professional to guide you through the process of finding your optimal dosage levels so you can achieve your desired results.

If a pro-cannabis medical professional is inaccessible to you in your area, then you may need to consider micro-dosing as your next option. As an example, micro-dosing marijuana is the practice of taking small amounts in order to reap the medical benefits of THC while avoiding its psychoactive effects. However, instead of micro-dosing marijuana, you may look into micro-dosing CBD oil to find your optimal dosage that produces the desired effects.

You would need to keep an active journal on hand to take note of a few variants such as:

  • The type of cannabis product purchased (oil, vape, flower, edibles, etc)
  • The CBD and/or THC concentration levels (number of mg’s per bottle)
  • The date of treatment commencement (start date)
  • The times of treatment administration (times of day, AM and PM)
  • The frequency of treatment administration per day (number of times per day)
  • The dosage amounts per administration (number of milligrams or drops per dose)
  • The noticeable effects after administration (positive, negative, or neutral)



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