The anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis have proven to be beneficial during studies into cannabis treatment for Crohn’s disease and Colitis.
A 2011 study found that 51% of ulcerative colitis and 48% of Crohn’s disease patients are lifetime cannabis users.
Both Crohn’s disease and Colitis are gastrointestinal disorders that belong to a family of disorders known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
A recent article in the medical journal, Pharmacology noted: ‘The wall of the gastrointestinal tract houses all components of the endocannabinoid system’.
Studies have shown that the endocannabinoid system is involved in virtually all major immune system functions. IBD patients tend to have more cannabinoid receptors in the tissue of the colon and are more likely to respond positively to the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis treatment for Crohn’s disease and Colitis, especially within the gut.
Crohn’s disease causes chronic inflammation throughout the gastrointestinal tract and can cause painful swelling from the oesophagus to the rectum.
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease
These can include rectal bleeding, severe abdominal pain and cramping, constipation, persistent diarrhoea and/or a persistent bloated feeling.
Crohn’s is a potentially fatal condition of the gastrointestinal tract involving inflammation, pain, nausea, and often extreme weight loss (the type experienced by sufferers of wasting syndromes like HIV/AIDS).
Scientists believe that Crohn’s is caused by a combination of factors, including malfunction of the immune system, one’s environment, and inherited genetics. It may also be triggered by extreme anxiety.
This is similar to Crohn’s disease but only affects the inner layer of the colon. The symptoms can include fever, decreased appetite, weight loss, fatigue and amenorrhoea (loss of menstrual periods in a woman of reproductive age).
Limited treatment is available through diet and prescription medication, however, people suffering often have to manage the condition on their own.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Researchers at the Spire Manchester Hospital in the U.K. recently published a study that found that IBS patients who used the same cannabis treatment for Crohn’s disease and Colitis reported improved diarrhea symptoms and a significant decrease in pain.
In a 2011 retrospective observational study of patients with Crohn’s disease, Naftali et al. found that after beginning medical cannabis use, 21 of the 30 participants had symptoms which had significantly improved and other medications were needed less.
Additionally, 15 of the 30 patients who had needed a total of 19 surgeries between them in a span of approximately 9 years before trying medical cannabis, needed only 2 total surgeries between them in a span of approximately 3 years after treatment with cannabis.
Patients in the medical cannabis group claimed to have improved sleep and appetite without significant harmful side effects.
Additionally, 3 of the 11 patients in the active treatment group were able to reduce or eliminate use of their steroid medications
Subjects had previously failed to respond to standard drug therapy, including steroids, immunomodulators, and drugs such as anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha agents.
Participants in the study were randomly assigned two cannabis cigarettes daily. Some patients received a measured concentration of THC.
The rest received a placebo from which the THC had been removed. The experiment lasted for two months, followed by two weeks of subsequent assessment.
Forty-five percent of the THC subjects achieved complete remission.
Only 10% of the subjects in the placebo group entered remission during the study. A clinical response, defined as a drop in the Crohn’s Disease Activity Index (CDAI) score of more than 100, was achieved in 90 percent of THC subjects.
In contrast, only 40 percent of placebo subjects experienced this level of disease symptom improvement. Furthermore, three patients in the THC group were able to be weaned off steroids.
The test subjects who took THC-rich cannabis twice daily reported improved appetite and sleep, and no significant side effects.
When using cannabis treatment for Crohn’s disease and Colitis the compounds found in the marijuana plant have been shown to play an important part in decreasing gastrointestinal inflammation.
Patients with IBD suffer bouts of vomiting and diarrhea that can result in malnutrition and weight loss
Studies have also found cannabis treatment for Crohn’s disease and Colitis can stimulate the appetite in affected patients, resulting in healthy weight gain and an overall improvement in symptoms.
Results of a survey published in ‘Digestion’ confirmed previous studies that after three months of cannabis treatment for Crohn’s disease and Colitis patients resulted in reports of weight gain and BMI.
They also reported improved general health perception, social functioning, ability to work, physical pain, and depression, and a reduced disease activity index (signalling improvement in the condition).
A study conducted in Israel in 2013 and published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology revealed that 45% of human study subjects experienced complete remission of their Crohn’s after eight weeks of 115 mg of smoked THC per day.
The Israeli study revealed no negative side effects of smoked marijuana. If a patient doesn’t wish to smoke cannabis, othermethods of administration consumption avenues such as edibles or vaporization work just as well.
Cannabis treatment for Crohn’s disease and Colitis has been shown to offer a better quality of life, increased ability to perform daily tasks and maintain a social life, with a drastic decrease in pain reduction and anxiety without accompanying side effects.
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