- Colitis is referred to as the inflammation of the colon or the gut.
- Scientists have found that eating spicy food with chilli peppers and marijuana could help in calming down the inflamed gut.
- Anandamide present in chilli peppers and marijuana would help to chill out the gut inflammation.
New avenues for diabetes and colitis (inflammation in the gut) therapy could be opened up by chilli peppers and marijuana, finds a new study from the University of Connecticut.
The research findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Eating weed and spicy foods with chilli pepper were found to interact with the same receptor in our stomachs.
‘Calm your inflamed gut by eating chilli peppers in spicy food and smoking marijuana.’
Capsaicin in Chilli Pepper
Biochemically, the presence of capsaicin chemical in chilli pepper could bind to a receptor and trigger a nerve that fires off your brain. These receptors are found all throughout the gastrointestinal tract and the reason behind this was unknown.
The research team fed capsaicin to mice and found that the spice had less inflammation in their guts. Chilli pepper also cured type 1 diabetes in mice.
The study findings revealed that capsaicin is capable of binding to a receptor called TRPV1, that is present on the specialized cells in the gastrointestinal tract.
Capsaicin binds to the TRPV1 receptor and causes cells to make anandamide. This compound is similar to cannabinoids in marijuana. Anandamide is a chemical that causes the immune system to calm down.
The research team also found that anandamide in mice could get the gut-calming results.
The receptors for anandamide are present in the brain. These receptors react with cannabinoids in marijuana. The researchers even wonder why there is a necessity to have receptors for cannabinoids in the brain. This way they don't seem to interact with body functions like opiate receptors.
Pramod Srivastava, Professor of Immunology and Medicine at UConn Health School of Medicine, said, "This allows you to imagine ways the immune system and the brain might talk to each other. They share a common language."
"And one word of that common language is anandamide."
How Anandamide Heals the Gut
The research team did not know how or why anandamide relays the messages between the immune system and the brain. However, they found out how it would heal the gut.
Anandamide reacts with the TRPV1 receptor and another receptor that would call a type of macrophage, immune cells which could reduce inflammation.
When anandamide levels increase the macrophage population and activity level would also increase. The effects may pervade the upper gut, including the esophagus, stomach and pancreas.
Further research is therefore required to find out if it would affect the disorders in the bowel like that of colitis. There may also be other questions that are to be explored, the exact molecular pathway, the receptors that react with anandamide, and how ingesting the weed would affect gut and the brain.
Testing the Effects of Cannabinoids
It is often difficult to obtain a license and experiment people with marijuana. However, legalization in certain states would require a different way to see if regular ingestion of cannabinoids could affect the gut inflammation in humans.
Srivastava, said, "I'm hoping to work with the public health authority in Colorado to see if there has been an effect on the severity of colitis among regular users of edible weed." as cannabis has become legal there in 2012.
And if the data proves to show a significant change, then it would be effective to test the case that anandamide or cannabinoids could be used as therapeutic drugs for treating certain disorders of the stomach, pancreas, intestines and colon.
What is Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis or colitis is the inflammation and ulceration of the rectum and the colon. Symptoms of colitis may include diarrhea, cramping pain, tiredness and fatigue, loss of appetite and anemia.
- Ulcerative Colitis - (https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/about-inflammatory-bowel-disease/ulcerative-colitis)