The new research conducted at the University of Connecticut showed that cannabis and chili peppers had similar properties that would allow them to be used in the treatment of colitis, diabetes, and a range of other ailments of the digestive tract.
The study has been recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A group of scientists demonstrated that marijuana and peppers interacted with the same receptor in the stomach. The researchers investigated the chemical capsaicin, which provides the hot sensation of eating a chili pepper. When being fed by capsaicin, laboratory mice demonstrated a lower level of inflammation in their guts. After that, the researchers learned that the chemical connected to the receptor known as TRPV1, which is present in the cells of the gastrointestinal tract. When capsaicin interacted with TRPV1, it made cells generate anandamide—a compound that is chemically similar to cannabinoids in weed. Therefore, it was anandamide that positively affected the immune system of mice.
The human brain also has anandamide receptors, which means the brain and the immune system may be able to communicate through the common language of anandamide, according to Pramod Srivastava, one of the study’s leading scientists.
The researchers also discovered that higher levels of anandamide led to a larger number of macrophages, the immune cells that fight inflammation. Scientists also successfully treated mice that had type 1 diabetes with chili peppers. When the researchers applied anandamide directly, they reached a similar gut-calming effect.
In a press release, Srivastava shared that they wanted to launch a study in Colorado, where pot is already legal, to study the effects of ingesting cannabis on anandamide in the body. The results of the research could have implications for multiple conditions that damage the intestines, stomach, colon, and pancreas.