Crohn’s Disease | Can Medical Cannabis Help?

According to a report from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, approximately 1.6 million people in the US have an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Though there are several inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s disease and Colitis are the most common ones.

Crohn’s disease, which can cause abdominal pains, among other symptoms, is caused when the immune system responds abnormally, causing the digestive tract to develop chronic inflammation. Unfortunately, the condition has no cure. As such, the only solution for patients is to treat the symptoms.

More so, there is no blanket treatment for Crohn’s disease as the symptoms may vary in intensity from one patient to the next. Also, patients respond differently to various treatment methods. Since Crohn’s disease can cause severe pain and discomfort and is a relapsing-remitting condition, it can significantly affect a person’s quality of life during flare-ups.

This is why patients must identify the treatment method that their body best responds to. In this regard, medical cannabis has become a popular option among patients, and even doctors are now prescribing it. Since medical use of cannabis has been legalized in many states, including Maryland, patients with Crohn’s disease can use it to alleviate symptoms.

This article explores the symptoms of Crohn’s disease as well as the properties of medical cannabis to determine whether it is suitable for alleviating symptoms.

Who Can Get Crohn’s Disease?

Though anyone can develop inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn, they are more common in young adults aged between 15 and 35. Such conditions are also more common in boys than girls. However, females are diagnosed with Crohn’s disease more often than males.

What Causes Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease usually affects the beginning of the colon and the end of the ileum. It can also affect other parts of the gastrointestinal tract starting from the mouth to the anus. It is caused when the immune system attacks healthy bacteria in the GI tract.

When this happens, it causes chronic inflammation, which thickens intestinal walls, thus triggering the symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease?

Though there may be variations in the symptoms of Crohn’s disease among patients, they often include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite and nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Malnutrition

Does Cannabis Have any Medical Properties?

Medical cannabis is derived from the parts of Cannabis sativa, a hemp plant. Though it is popularly known for its recreational use, it has also been used to treat various medical conditions by different cultures across the globe for centuries.

Medical Cannabis for Crohn’s Disease

Cannabis contains over 70 active compounds known as cannabinoids. The two most common ones are delt-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).  THC is known for its effects on the users’ mental state and can improve appetite and alleviate chronic pain and nausea.

Cannabidiol contains immune and anti-inflammatory properties. Along with reducing inflammation, it can also be used to treat pain, spasticity, sleep apnea, and insomnia.

When it comes to Crohn’s disease, medical cannabis helps with:

  • Alleviating pain through analgesic effects
  • Reduces inflammation in the affected areas
  • Increases appetite
  • Reduces feelings of nausea and vomiting
  • Lowers anxiety

Medical cannabis is not a cure for Crohn’s disease, but it can help alleviate a number of symptoms. Though research on its effects on the condition is still ongoing, preliminary results and patient testimonies suggest it can be an effective primary or complementary treatment option.

What Does Science Have to Say?

Cannabis has been used for medical purposes for centuries. However, that fact alone is not sufficient evidence of its effectiveness as a method of treatment.  Fortunately, advancements in medical technology allow scientists to explore cannabis and its properties in detail, to ascertain the validity of such claims, and whether it can help patients with Crohn’s disease.

1.  Journal of Clinical Investigation

A study titled ‘The Endogenous Cannabinoid System Protects Against Colonic Inflammation’ was published by the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2004. The research determined that medical cannabis has strong anti-inflammatory properties that have promising effects on excessive inflammation caused by intestinal conditions.

2. Cannabis Alleviates Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease Study

The purpose of this study, conducted in 2005 by O’Shaughnessy’s, a scientific journal, was to determine whether medical cannabis can alleviate Crohn’s disease symptoms. For the study, 12 Crohn’s patients filled out questionnaires on their experience using medical cannabis.

For each symptom, they rated its effectiveness on a scale from one to zero. From the results, patients indicated that using medical cannabis help considerably with pain, appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, depression, and activity levels.

3. Treatment of Crohn’s Disease With Cannabis Study

In 2011, an observational study on the treatment of Crohn’s disease was conducted at the Meir Hospital and Kupat Holim Clinic by the Israel Medical Association Journal. The research was centered on 30 Crohn’s patients who consumed cannabis, all of which indicated a decrease in disease activity.

For twenty-one of the patients, the results were exemplary. A significant decrease in disease activity, along with reduced bowel movements and improvement of other symptoms was noted.

How to Use Medical Cannabis?

The use of medical cannabis in Maryland is legal. However, qualifying patients must first register with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC). Once you are approved, you can purchase medical cannabis from registered outlets.

Some of the methods of ingesting medical cannabis include smoking, food add-ons, smoking, extracts, topicals, etc.

Is Medical Cannabis Worth a Try?

If you are a Crohn’s patient or have had first-hand experience of someone living with the condition, you know how much it can affect the quality of life. Living with Crohn’s means you always have to be aware of where the closest bathroom is. When symptoms flare up, patients are often forced to miss school, work, or other activities.

One of the best ways of reducing its impact on your life is knowing the signs of a flare-up and managing the symptoms. With the latter, medical cannabis can help significantly. To get the best results, it’s best to seek medical cannabis from licensed doctors.

Euphoria Wellness is a medical facility that helps patients deal with symptoms of various conditions by using medical cannabis. Contact us today to get advice on medical cannabis from our highly skilled staff.