If you or someone you love struggles with Crohn’s disease, you know how painful and inconvenient the condition can be. Most patients would do just about anything to improve their quality of life. Could cannabis help patients with Crohn’s disease?
Let’s find out.
What Is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with symptoms similar to ulcerative colitis, including diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal bloating, severe cramping, and blood in the stool. Crohn’s tends to affect the small intestine, while ulcerative colitis forms in the large intestine near the rectum.
Traditional treatments for these types of digestive disorders include dietary changes, anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids, immunosuppressive agents, and biologics.
How Cannabis Can Help With Crohn’s Disease
Although researchers still have a lot of work to do to understand the impact of cannabinoids on inflammatory bowel disorders, preliminary studies show that cannabis use may help improve some of the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, including:
- Increasing appetite
- Improving sleep
- Uplifting moods
- Lowering inflammation
- Soothing abdominal pain
- Reducing dependence on opioid painkillers
Cannabinoids work by interacting with a network of receptors in our endocannabinoid system (ECS). All organisms on the planet except insects possess an endocannabinoid system to help regulate essential bodily functions and keep them in balance despite external factors.
One primary theory supporting the effectiveness of cannabis in treating human illness is that some people are born with Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD). A lack of sufficient endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-AG can make it more difficult for the body to regulate vital functions like inflammation. Researchers have linked CECD with treatment-resistant syndromes, such as migraine, fibromyalgia, and inflammatory bowel disorders like Crohn’s.
A 2018 clinical review found that combining CBD with THC helped diminish symptoms and improve the quality of life for participants struggling with Crohn’s. However, the results were mixed. While cannabis and CBD products may reduce the symptoms of IBD, there is no conclusive evidence that cannabis use can induce remission of these disorders.
However, another study published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences found that cannabis use may help mitigate the typical complications of hospitalized Crohn’s disease patients.
Another study published in the peer-reviewed journal Expert Review of Gastroenterology and Hepatology concluded that cannabinoids could help with certain symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases. The study asserts that more research is needed, but the FDA has approved two synthetic cannabinoid medications, Dronabinol and Nabilone, for treating IBS illnesses.
Most preliminary studies recommend a starting dosage of around 40-50 milligrams of CBD/THC for inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s. However, much more research needs to be completed to fully understand the effects of cannabinoids on these types of disorders.
This article is meant for educational purposes only. We recommend that you begin a dialogue with your doctor about using cannabis products in conjunction with traditional treatments for Crohn’s, IBD, and ulcerative colitis. CBD may interact with specific pharmaceutical drugs, so it’s crucial that you speak with your physician before adding cannabis products to your treatment routine.