Crohn’s disease is a severe gastrointestinal (GI) disorder called inflammatory bowel disease. Another common form of inflammatory bowel disease is ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease symptoms can range from abdominal pain to loss of appetite to fatigue, diarrhea, or constipation, which are caused by chronic inflammation of the GI tract.
Crohn’s Disease currently has no cure, but physicians and patients are hopeful that cannabis can help control the severe symptoms that accompany the debilitating condition. Medical marijuana is reported to help with nausea, diarrhea, appetite, and quality of life diminished by a patient’s daily living limitations with gastrointestinal issues.
Recent evidence shows that cannabinoids like CBD and CBG can help reduce inflammation, suggesting why users say they can relieve pain. For Crohn’s disease patients, these anti-inflammatory effects could help reduce symptoms. Although more research is needed on cannabis use for people living with Crohn’s disease, individual reports claim their personal use of the plant has been effective at reducing some of their chronic symptoms. In addition to a decrease in pain, it may also bring back appetite and help control weight fluctuations.
Medicinal Cannabis for Crohn’s Patients
There has not been much progress toward significant research regarding Crohn’s disease and medical cannabis. Despite the lack of extensive studies available for review, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation has reported on the positive therapeutic benefits of cannabis for relieving inflammation, stomach pain, nausea, and increasing appetite.
Current research shows that more studies are warranted on inflammatory bowel syndrome and the therapeutic benefits of marijuana for modulating pain, controlling nausea, and slowing the intestinal digestion process. Small-scale human and animal studies continue to show promise, and the potential benefits are being researched further.
Timna Naftali conducted the first study in 2011 on Crohn’s Disease and medicinal cannabis. The study followed thirty patients with Crohn’s and recorded their disease severity before and after cannabis use. Researchers found that many users were able to decrease inflammation medications, including steroids. Approximately three-fourths of participants said they experienced a decrease in symptoms and a reduction in daily bowel movements.
Another study discusses the cannabis plant’s potential for helping to relieve digestive inflammation and its anti-inflammatory properties by activating the endocannabinoid system, a fat-based system of self-made neurotransmitters. When CB2 receptors line the intestinal tissue, a P-glycoprotein transmitter will help decrease the body’s inflammatory and autoimmune responses.
MMJ Patients with Crohn’s Disease may see the following benefits:
- Pain management improvement
- Decreased anxiety and depression
- Appetite Increase and regulation
- Reduced need for regular steroid use
- Decrease in diarrhea
The potential risks of using cannabis for Crohn’s Disease include the following:
- Adverse drug interactions with other medications
- Many health insurance companies don’t cover MMJ
- Increased risk of anxiety with prolonged use
- Mild side effects of THC include: dry mouth, drowsiness, psychoactive effects, nausea, and paranoia
If you have been looking for a new way to manage common symptoms of Crohn’s disease, or if you need additional relief on top of other prescribed medications, using medicinal cannabis may be a good option. Finding the correct type of cannabis product and dose may take some time and experimentation.
While there are potential therapeutic benefits, there is little information about the health risks associated with long-term cannabis consumption. We recommend caution and consulting with your healthcare provider before starting a new Crohn’s disease symptom relief treatment.
Last Updated: February 16, 2023
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