Health, Pain, Women's Health

Gut Trouble? Try Marijuana, or Hot Peppers

Strange but true: both marijuana and chili peppers, not combined, appear to have a calming effect on our stomachs. A University of Connecticut news release reports that researchers at the school have found that both ingredients interact with the same receptors in our gastrointestinal tract. The researchers discovered that capsaicin, the chemical in hot peppers that binds to a receptor that triggers a nerve that fires off to your brain: hot! also binds to a receptor called TRPV1, which is found on specialized cells throughout the gastrointestinal tract.  Now it gets interesting. When capsaicin binds to it, TRPV1 causes cells to make anandamide. What’s that? Anandamide is a compound chemically akin to the cannabinoids in marijuana. It was the anandamide that caused the immune system to calm down. And yes, the researchers found that they could get the same gut-calming results by feeding the mice used in their experiment anandamide directly. The problem, or perhaps the bonus, is that the brain also has receptors for anandamide, and it’s these receptors that react with the cannabinoids in marijuana to get people high. The researchers can’t say, at this point, if chili peppers and marijuana will chill out a jumpy gut, but their research suggests that it may.

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