Cannabis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Can Marijuana Help?

Cannabis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Can Marijuana Help?

The moment Vital slept through the night, he knew that cannabis works for him. Vital is a patient who suffers from Crohn’s Disease a type of inflammatory bowel disease. He received conventional treatment for his gastrointestinal problems, but none gave him the same “magical” effects like cannabis did. While these effects may seem magical to a long-suffering patient, studies on cannabis and inflammatory bowel disease show that this herb has the key elements in controlling this autoimmune problem.

Cannabis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease – On Pain and Inflammation

Suffering from chron's disease cannabis
(image via The JAMA Network)

A growing number of studies on cannabis and inflammatory bowel disease show just how promising cannabis can be as a potential treatment for this disease. These studies reveal that cannabis can control several debilitating symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease.

Both THC and CBD act as powerful anti-inflammatory agents capable of inducing apoptosis or death of these rogue immune cells. THC activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the immune cells. This effect triggers a cascade of signals which ultimately leads to the abnormal cells’ death. CBD, on the other hand, exerts its anti-inflammatory effects through other non-cannabinoid receptors like the PPARs.

CBD and THC produce analgesic effects through a number of ways. THC activates the endocannabinoid system, and CBD activates non-cannabinoid receptors like the vanilloid receptor.

Another interesting way that cannabis controls pain is its effect on our body’s endogenous cannabinoids. Our endogenous cannabinoids produce analgesic effects. But these effects are short-lived since enzymes quickly break them down for cell reabsorption. Researchers found that both THC and CBD actually improve the levels of our endogenous cannabinoid by preventing its reabsorption.

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Cannabis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease – On Diarrhea and Appetite Loss

Research studies on cannabis and inflammatory bowel disease also found that cannabis can control diarrhea and improve appetite loss.

Cannabis’ anti-motility effects help the gastrointestinal system absorb the nutrients the body needs. At the same time, cannabis improves weight loss by stimulating the appetite of the patient.

Vital shared in his story that his frequent trips to the toilet prevented him from getting enough sleep. When he started his cannabis therapy, he was finally able to sleep through the night for the first time in years.

Human Clinical Studies on Cannabis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

weed for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Cannabis has shown promise in two, double-blind clinical studies for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

We found two noteworthy human clinical studies on cannabis and inflammatory bowel disease worth sharing.

One study involved 21 patients diagnosed with treatment-resistant Crohn’s Disease. Half of the group received cannabis therapy, while the other half received placebo. Those who received cannabis therapy reported marked improvement in their overall symptoms. Interestingly, three participants from the cannabis group were also able to gradually stop their intake of steroids.

The second study involved 13 patients with chronic inflammatory bowel disease. They received cannabis therapy for three months. At the end of their treatment session, all reported marked improvement in their quality of life. Cannabis significantly reduced their pain and depression.

The participants noted side effects. But these were well-tolerated.

We need more research on cannabis and inflammatory bowel disease. But these studies clearly show that cannabis has the potential to treat inflammatory bowel disease.

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