There is an alarming number of people who suffer from Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease is defined as an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. It affects the body by causing inflammation in the digestive tract. This leads to severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, and severe fatigue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of August 2017, about three million adults in the United States suffer from IBD. Scientists believe that cannabis can be used to treat Crohn’s disease.
There is a lot of speculation in regards to the medical use of cannabis. Its social use has overshadowed its medical use over the years. But with laws being passed that will eventually legalize it; it’s now starting to get recognition.
The root causes of Crohn’s disease are still debated. But according to WebMD, it could likely be caused by an abnormal response to the immune system. While there are many treatments available for the disease, scientists are now hoping that cannabis can be used as yet another viable option for patients.
Before I get into the study that illustrates how cannabis can treat Crohn’s disease, let me give you some background on the actual disease. As I mentioned, the cause is still under heavy debate. But research shows that the immune system is what triggers the disease. It attacks good bacteria and food in the gut, which causes it to become inflamed, WebMD mentions.
Crohn’s disease severely impacts the everyday lives of people who suffer from it. People take numerous trips to the doctor’s office. If someone is extremely active, that will change if they are diagnosed with Crohn’s. Working will also be extremely difficult, especially if Crohn’s is triggered during work hours.
The signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease can range from mild to severe. In some cases, the symptoms will develop gradually. In other cases, the symptoms will suddenly appear. When Crohn’s is active, you may experience fatigue, fever, blood in the stool, sores on your mouth, loss of appetite and weight loss, and pain around the anus, says WebMD.
In more severe cases, you may experience inflammation of the eyes, joints, and skin. You may also experience inflammation in your bile ducts or liver.
Researchers, scientists, and doctors have different ways of treating Crohn’s disease. Different treatments work for different people. The reason is that an IBD affects people in different ways because it attacks different parts of the body. So patients are taking all sorts of anti-inflammatory drugs to try and reduce the symptoms.
Researchers published a study in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. The study illustrates the effects cannabis has on patients suffering from Crohn’s disease.
The study included 21 patients suffering from Crohn’s disease. There were 13 men and 8 women. The average age of the patients was 40. Each patient had previously tried treating their disease with anti-tumour agents, steroidal therapy, and immunomodulators. No one was successful with any of these treatments. Researchers split the patients into two groups. They began a 10-week study which included eight weeks of treatment and a follow-up two weeks later. One group was given rolled-up cannabis containing 115mg of THC and they were instructed to smoke it twice a day. The placebo group was given the same instructions, but their cannabis contained no THC.
The results of the study are astonishing. In the THC group, 5 of 11 patients saw complete remission. In the THC group, 10 of 11 patients saw their Crohn’s Disease Activity Index drop from 200 to 100. Each patient from the THC group reported that they were sleeping better and they regained their appetite. The main reason researchers believe cannabis may help is because of the THC. Our bodies naturally produce THC, it’s called endocannabinoids. People suffering from Crohn’s have low levels of endocannabinoids. But cannabis seems to provide cannabinoids which help reduce inflammation which triggers any one of the Crohn’s diseases symptoms. This is only one study done on the effects of cannabis on people with Chron’s disease, and although the data is small, this study provides some very interesting results that should be taken into consideration.