MARIJUANA AND IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS)
My name is Christine, and Im thirty-four years old. I live in the San Francisco Bay area and work as director of information systems for a large labor union. I have a college education and Im a single mother of two lovely and bright children. I used marijuana recreationally in high school, stopped using it completely when I was 20, and began to use it again on rare occasions recreationally about a year ago. I dont smoke, drink, or take any other non-prescription drugs.
In 1994 I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). My bouts with the disease normally come within thirty minutes of eating. I experience severe cramping, nausea, and diarrhea. Whenever I eat I have to keep track of where the nearest bathroom is just in case. The diagnosis is very frustrating because it basically means that my gastroenterologist cannot find anything to account for my symptoms. I have had a regular workup including a physical exam, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, upper GI with small bowel follow-through, and a month-long bland diet with a phase-in of different foods. None of these tests has turned up any physiological problem that would explain my symptoms. I had as many bouts with IBS on a bland diet as I had eating any other foods.
I was given a prescription for Bentyl (dicyclomine), which slows down the digestive tract so that food doesnt process through so quickly. The problem is that my bouts with IBS appear to be random, and by the time the Bentyl is in my system Im already suffering greatly. I found Bentyl to be ineffective unless I took it regularly, which I wasnt willing to do because it wasnt that helpful to me and I didnt like the side effects.
I first tried using marijuana for my IBS about six months ago and found that a few puffs on a joint would give me immediate relief from both the urgent diarrhea and the nausea. I got the idea when my mom was dying of cancer and I was trying to get her to use it for her nausea. I have been trying to find a way to use marijuana immediately at the onset of nausea and cramps, but since it is illegal without a doctors recommendation [in California], the situation is difficult. I dont want to be arrested for using it in public.
I usually pay $80 to $200 an ounce for marijuana. Normally I smoke it in a joint, a pipe, or a water pipe. A water pipe delivers the most cool smoke, so there is less coughing. Ice in the water makes a big difference. I have also tried to eat marijuana when I can get good and fresh buds. To me it tastes like dried basil. Because of my IBS symptoms, eating it isnt all that appetizing.
Ive never been arrested for marijuana use or had any problems from using it either recreationally or medicinally.
I hope this information is helpful to somebody. Please let me know if there is any further information you think would be helpful. I would like my last name to be kept private. My first name and e-mail address (Ms_Christine@compuserve.com) are fine to put on your web site.
Shortly after we posted the above clinical account, Christine received the following e-mail from Sammy:
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