A lot of people struggle with the painful symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) on a daily basis, which is a term that covers inflammatory bowel conditions like colitis, Chron’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
As of August 2017, about 3 million adult Americans diagnosed with IBD, so the number can be much higher in reality.
Crohn’s disease is the most common of these, and its cause is still unknown. Doctors believe it is an autoimmune disease, triggered by the immune system, which attacks harmless bacteria or food in the gut and thus irritates and damages the bowel.
This disease affects the joints, mouth, skin, and eyes as well, despite the bowels.
In March 2016, the findings of a survey conducted by the Health Union in March 2016 found that:
“[It] was not uncommon for patients to see multiple healthcare professionals (HCPs), have numerous office visits, and endure multiple diagnostic tests before receiving a [Crohn’s disease] diagnosis.
Results demonstrate an impact on such things as the ability to work or exercise, but also on the overall quality of life and social activities. Respondents wished more people understood the disease and its impact.”
These are the most common symptoms:
- Cramping and bloating
- Chronic diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain and tenderness
IBDs can affect various different parts of the gastrointestinal tract, so findings the most effective way to treat Crohn’s disease is far from easy.
According to the Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Edward V. Loftus, “not everyone has the same symptoms,” so IBD patients should take various medications to fight inflammation, strengthen bones and destroy harmful intestinal bacteria, like:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs (corticosteroids and oral 5-aminosalicylates)
- Antibiotics (ciprofloxacin and metronidazole)
- Immune system suppressors (mercaptopurine, infliximab, azathioprine, methotrexate, and natalizumab)
- Other medications (anti-diarrheals, iron, pain relievers, calcium, vitamins D and B12)
Yet, scientists have found another way to treat Crohn’s disease and IBD!
Namely, the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology published a 10-week study in October 2013 which estimated the effects the marijuana plant Cannabis sativa on patients’ symptoms of Crohn’s disease and other IBDs.
It involved 21 Crohn’s disease patients (13 men and 8 women) at the average age of 40, who have previously tried treating their IBD with steroidal therapy, immunomodulators, or anti-tumor agents, but experienced no improvements.
Participants were divided into two groups, and 11 of them rolled cannabis to smoke containing 115mg of THC, twice daily, and the rest were also given rolled cannabis to smoke, but without THC.
These are their findings:
- 5 of 11 participants in the cannabis THC group experienced complete remission
- They observed clinical responses in 10 of 11 subjects in the cannabis THC group
- The sleeping patterns and appetite was improved in all subjects in the cannabis THC group
- 3 of 11 subjects in the cannabis THC group were weaned from steroid dependency
Their biggest dilemma is whether the effectiveness of cannabis just masks the root cause of the condition or not.
Yet, the reason for its beneficial effect is the reduced production of endocannabinoids in the case of Crohn’s disease, which are the natural THC of the body. Therefore, cannabinoids dampen the inflammation due to the symptoms of the disease.
Therefore, if you or someone you know suffers from Crohn’s disease, you should visit your doctor, explain the symptoms, and discuss the potential treatment with cannabis. If the doctor believes it will help, and medical marijuana is legal in your state, get a prescription for it.
Yet, even though you cannot reverse it, try to make some lifestyle and dietary changes, as it will help you to benefit and reduce the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.