Apr 28, 2016 4:35 PM

Medical Uses of Cannabis: Crohn's Disease

More and more patients suffering from Crohn's disease claim that medical marijuana products bring them the desired relief better than other medications. Though there are many other medical uses of cannabis, it seems to work wonders for this disease—it can ease inflammation, nausea, and pain-related symptoms. If you do not believe consumers' reports blindly, take a look at the scientific evidence discovered by cannabis researchers.

According to official statistics of the Centers for Disease Control, about 700,000 Americans face problems related to Crohn's disease annually. Conventional treatment includes narcotic painkillers and anti-inflammatories, but preventing and treating bowel ailments remains the biggest challenge of gastroenterology. However, the latest studies have revealed that medical marijuana can be very helpful in bowel problems control.

Animal Studies

Laboratory tests conducted by Austrian researchers showed that the cannabinoids contained in weed could interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors of the brain and digestive tract. During the placebo-controlled investigation, it was proven that marijuana led to significant improvements in patients suffering from Crohn's disease. Although the mechanisms involved in this process have not been investigated completely yet, the scientists suppose that cannabis also influences the central actions on cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2.

Moreover, in 2004, German scientists discovered that synthetic cannabinoids and endocannabinoids could interact with the cannabinoid system and reduce inflammation of the colon in laboratory rats.

An earlier study carried out in 2002 discovered that THC regulated the immune response of T lymphocytes to lower pro-inflammatory reactions common for arthritis, Crohn's disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Further investigation conducted in 2013 helped the researchers find out that marijuana's cannabidiol, or CBD, protected the bowel from runaway inflammation thanks to its ability to suppress the Th17 phenotype in the inflamed intestinal mucosa.

Human Studies

Though the mentioned studies seem to be convincing, research on medical uses of cannabis conducted on humans is more vital for cannabis patients suffering from Crohn's disease and other bowel ailments.

In 2011, Israeli scientists carried out a survey regarding medical marijuana use for people with inflammatory bowel disorders. Their findings showed that cannabis relieved symptoms of chronic abdominal pain, diarrhea, and lack of appetite in 33 percent of people with colitis ulcerous and 50 percent of patients struggling with Crohn’s disease.

A medical marijuana trial conducted by Israeli doctors in 2011 resulted in the first report about the influence of weed on humans with Crohn's disease. 21 of 30 participants of this study felt significant improvement after taking cannabis, and 22 patients could refuse from corticosteroids after the weed therapy. These results allowed the authors to conclude that medical marijuana could positively influence the disease activity and significantly reduce the need for medication treatment.

In 2013, cannabis science received proof of a “complete remission” of Crohn’s disease. A placebo-controlled study investigated 21 people with this ailment during eight weeks of treatment with THC-rich marijuana strains. The findings showed that 10 of 11 participants had been cured of Crohn's disease without any side effects typical for steroids.

There are many safe ways of taking medical cannabis such as dabbing, vaping, using suppositories, or consuming weed-infused edibles. Even smoking cannabis, which had been previously considered dangerous for health, did not prove its side effect in scientific studies. For example, the 2013 trial did not reveal any significant downsides associated with marijuana inhalation. Instead, the results showed that weed patients experienced improvement in sleep and appetite compared to placebo patients.

Though marijuana's effect on Crohn's disease has not been studied completely yet, the obtained findings are enough to claim that cannabis may be helpful for patients with bowel ailments. If you have already used medical marijuana to maintain your bowel health, let us know about your experience in the comments below.

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