Can Weed Cause Ulcers (or Will It Help Alleviate Symptoms)?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

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Ulcers, more specifically peptic ulcers, are open sores that form in the stomach and first part of the small intestine. Ulcers are relatively common. Roughly 10% of people will develop an ulcer at some point in their lives. 

For most people, ulcers are mild, causing manageable stomach pain and discomfort. Some people don’t even experience symptoms. In severe cases, though, ulcers can cause painful and harmful symptoms that can become unbearable. If left untreated, ulcers can also lead to serious complications that may require hospitalization.

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What Causes Ulcers?

Ulcers are most commonly caused by an infection or overuse of certain medications. Ulcers are frequently caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. They also frequently arise due to overuse of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Advil, Aleve, and Motrin. 

The most common causes of ulcers are:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Overuse of NSAID pain relievers
  • A side-effect of other medications

There are also a few risk factors that, while they can’t cause ulcers on their own, can increase the risk of ulcers developing and make them worse once they do. These factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Eating spicy food
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Stress

Signs & Symptoms of Ulcers

The most common symptom of ulcers is stomach pain and discomfort, but that’s not the only way ulcers can present. Ulcers also frequently cause heartburn, bloating, and nausea. In rare cases, the symptoms can be much more severe.

The complete list of symptoms of ulcers includes:

  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Difficulty when eating fatty foods
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn

In extreme cases: 

  • Black or dark colored stool
  • Vomiting or vomiting blood
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in appetite
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling lightheaded or faint

When ulcers go untreated, they can lead to serious complications which require medical intervention. Those complications include:

  • Perforation of the stomach wall
  • Internal bleeding
  • Gastric cancer
  • Obstruction of the GI tract

Can Cannabis Help Alleviate Ulcer Symptoms?

weed smoking with an ulcer

Cannabis cannot heal the ulcers themselves, but it is used to treat common symptoms like pain,1 inflammation,2 and nausea.3 Though there isn’t much research specifically addressing using cannabis to treat ulcers, there is plenty addressing their symptoms.

Cannabis does tackle several issues more specific to ulcers. One study found that cannabis use was associated with a lower risk4 of having the bacteria responsible for commonly causing ulcers. However, further research would be needed to verify these findings. And, at present, cannabis is used to treat symptoms, rather than the causes, of ulcers.

Another study on the effects of cannabis on the gastrointestinal tract found that cannabis has a multifaceted relationship with the GI tract which seems to calm and modulate the entirety of its processes.5 Evidence indicates that cannabis can suppress gastric acid secretion and slow down the motility within the digestive tract. Another study focused specifically on cannabis and the inhibition of acid secretion and arrived at a similar conclusion. The researchers also found that cannabis may also help preserve the protective mucus layer within the stomach.6

More research into the ways cannabis can treat ulcers is necessary, but the body of research that currently exists is certainly promising.

Legality and Doctor’s Recommendation

To determine if your state considers ulcers to be a qualifying condition for medical marijuana, check out our Laws & Regulations section for the medical cannabis rules for your state.

If you find that your state recognizes ulcers as a qualifying medical condition, you can seek a doctor’s recommendation to register for your state’s medical marijuana program. 

How NuggMD Can Help

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NuggMD is the nation's leading medical marijuana technology platform, serving patients in 22 states and growing. We’ve connected over 1,000,000 patients with their new medical marijuana doctors face-to-face via our state-of-the-art telemedicine platform. 

We believe that every human being has the right to explore the benefits of medical cannabis and are fully committed to helping each patient explore all of their options in their journey to wellness. For further information on whether you qualify for medical cannabis, select your state.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Cannabis & Ulcers

Do edibles help with ulcers?

Possibly. While there hasn’t been research into edibles specifically for treating ulcers, the effects of cannabis come as a result of cannabinoids entering the bloodstream and binding to endocannabinoid receptors. This is something that happens whether the cannabis is inhaled or ingested.

What symptoms of ulcers can cannabis help with?

Research suggests that cannabis can help with pain, inflammation, and nausea from ulcers. It also has the potential to reduce the acid associated with increased damage, pain, and heartburn. 

Which is better for ulcers: sativa or indica?

There isn’t any research on the subject, but patients seem to agree that strains that are effective at fighting pain and strains high in CBD seem to work best.


1. McDonagh, Marian S., et al. “Cannabis-Based Products for Chronic Pain : A Systematic Review.” Annals of Internal Medicine, 7 June 2022,, 10.7326/M21-4520.

2. Graczyk, Michał, et al. “The Therapeutic Potential of Cannabis in Counteracting Oxidative Stress and Inflammation.” Molecules, vol. 26, no. 15, 28 July 2021, p. 4551, 10.3390/molecules26154551. Accessed 6 Aug. 2021.

3. Parker, Linda A, et al. “Regulation of Nausea and Vomiting by Cannabinoids.” British Journal of Pharmacology, vol. 163, no. 7, 12 July 2011, pp. 1411–1422,, 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01176.x.

4. Adejumo, Adeyinka Charles, and Terence Ndonyi Bukong. “3445 Cannabis Use and Risk of H. Pylori Infection; Analysis of Inpatients and Residents of the US.” Journal of Clinical and Translational Science, vol. 3, no. s1, Mar. 2019, pp. 36–37,, 10.1017/cts.2019.89. Accessed 25 Dec. 2022.

5. Pertwee, R G. “Cannabinoids and the Gastrointestinal Tract.” Gut, vol. 48, no. 6, 2001, pp. 859–67,, 10.1136/gut.48.6.859. Accessed 6 Dec. 2019.

6. Abdel-Salam, Omar. “Gastric Acid Inhibitory and Gastric Protective Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, vol. 9, no. 5, 1 May 2016, pp. 413–419,, 10.1016/j.apjtm.2016.04.021. Accessed 25 Dec. 2022.

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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