Endocannabinoid system in irritable bowel syndrome and cannabis as a therapy

Complement Ther Med. 2020 Jan;48:102242. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2019.102242. Epub 2019 Nov 13.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) global burden is underestimated despite its high prevalence. It's a gastrointestinal disease having obscure pathophysiology with multiple therapies yet unsatisfactory remedies. The Endocannabinoid system (ECS) of our body plays a key role in maintaining normal physiology of the gastrointestinal tract as well as involves abnormalities including functional diseases like IBS. This review highlights the importance of the Endocannabinoid system, its connections with the normal gastrointestinal functions and abnormalities like IBS. It also discusses the role of cannabis as medical therapy in IBS patients. A literature search for articles related to endocannabinoids in IBS and medical cannabis in PubMed and Google Scholar was conducted. The studies highlighted the significant participation of ECS in IBS. However, the breach in obtaining the promising therapeutic model for IBS needed further investigation in ECS and uncover other treatments for IBS. This review summarizes ECS, highlights the relationship of ECS with IBS and explores cannabis as a potential therapy to treat IBS.

Keywords: Cannabinoid receptors; Endocannabinoid system; Irritable bowel syndrome; Medical marijuana.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / metabolism
  • Cannabis*
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / therapy*
  • Medical Marijuana / therapeutic use*


  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Medical Marijuana