The truth is that Crohn’s Disease is simply awful. It intrudes into people’s daily lives with sudden and extreme pain, often accompanied by an unpleasant trip to the restroom. Unfortunately, many patients suffering from Crohn’s Disease do not obtain substantial relief from conventional medical treatments. In addition, the immunosuppressive drugs given to patients often have negative side effects that can be very difficult for these patients to manage. Medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana, is a natural and non-invasive solution for those suffering from Crohn’s Disease. Medical cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties which can alleviate the unpleasant symptoms of the disease, help combat the nasty side effects of pharmaceuticals, and in some cases even help patients to reach total remission.
Crohn’s Disease affects up to 780,000 Americans and there is currently no known pharmaceutical cure. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, the symptoms are persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgent need to move bowels, abdominal cramping and pains, constipation which can lead to bowel obstruction, fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, and, in women, irregular menstrual cycles (ccfa.org). Although it is often mislabeled as an autoimmune disease, Crohn’s Disease is actually a chronic state of immunodeficiency which manifests itself as an inflammatory disorder that attacks a person’s gastrointestinal tract. According to Mayo Clinic, the most common area of the digestive tract affected by Crohn’s disease is at the end of the small bowel, also known as the ileum, and the beginning of the colon (mayoclinic.org). Treatments, much like the disease itself, can lie on a broad spectrum. Simple dietary change can provide relief for those suffering from minor symptoms. However, for those with more advanced symptoms, medications such as corticosteroids and even surgery may be prescribed.
When it comes to Crohn’s Disease, studies are showing that medical cannabis can take the place of strong steroid medications and invasive surgeries. The compounds in cannabis known as cannabinoids have been found to have immunomodulatory effects. These cannabinoids prevent the body’s immune system from releasing pro-inflammatory proteins and instead release anti-inflammatory compounds. This release in inflammation will result in a decrease in pain. Researchers at the University of Bath determined that cannabinoids, “activate the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the gut lining, promoting it to heal the inflamed lining of the gastrointestinal tract” (Hergenrather, 2005). Symptoms such as depression, fatigue, gut pain, loss of appetite, and sleep disorders were also found to be helped by the marijuana compound known as Cannabidiol, or CBD (Fouad, et al). For the patients already taking strong pharmaceutical medications, studies show that medical cannabis can help to reduce the need for medication. In this same study, in which the patients were given medical cannabis containing delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, some of the patients with Crohn’s Disease experienced full remission of their symptoms (Naftali, et al).
Crohn’s Disease is a condition that many suffer through in pain and secrecy. When a patient attempts to treat Crohn’s Disease with conventional medicine they are met with the grim reality that there is no cure and the treatment options available to them only mask the symptoms and often do not provide any long-term solutions. Fortunately, studies are showing that medical cannabis helps to relieve the symptoms that are associated with Crohn’s Disease and the symptoms that stem as a result of pharmaceutical medication side effects. What’s more, recent research shows that medical cannabis can provide the light at the end of the tunnel for so many people suffering from Crohn’s Disease: complete remission.
What Are Crohn’s & Colitis? (n.d.). Crohn’s & Colitis. Retrieved from http://www.ccfa.org/what-are-crohns-and-colitis/what-is-crohns-disease/.
Crohn’s disease. (2014, August 13). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/crohns-disease/basics/definition/con-20032061.
Hergenrather, J. (2005, Autumn). Cannabis alleviates symptoms of Crohn’s disease. O’Shaughnessy’s. Retrieved from http://cannabisclinicians.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Cannabis-for-Crohns-Disease.pdf.
Fouad, A.A., and Jresat, I. (2011, November 16). Therapeutic potential of cannabidiol against ischemia/reperfusion liver injury in rats. European Journal of Pharmacology, 670(1), 216-23. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014299911009599.
Naftali, T., Bar-Lev Schleider, L., Dotan, I., Lansky, E.P. Sklerovsky Benjaminov, F. and Konikoff, FM. (2013, October). Cannabis induces a clinical response in patients with Crohn’s disease: a prospective placebo-controlled study. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 11(10), 1276-1280. Retrieved from http://www.cghjournal.org/article/S1542-3565(13)00604-6/fulltext.