As of 2015, it was estimated that at least 3 million US citizens suffered from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), existing in the form of Crohn’s Disease or Colitis. As a chronic illness, forms IBD can have a profound impact on one’s life, making day to day activities difficult to complete and decreasing quality of life. Pharmaceuticals are often prescribed, but where one symptom is alleviated another pops up and takes its place.
If you are one of those 3 million, medical marijuana (MMJ) may help you manage your condition and help treat its symptoms.
How Medical Marijuana Helps IBD
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, but medical marijuana is truly a miracle drug. With our bodies’ built-in endocannabinoid system (ECS), cannabis can help ease many of the symptoms and pain associated with IBD-related conditions.
People suffering from Crohn’s Disease often experience weight loss, fever, abdominal pain, and fevers, along with diarrhea and rectal bleeding. What’s more, those with Crohn’s also report feelings of anxiety and depression, a byproduct of the ongoing pain and fatigue.
Proven to be anti-inflammatory, medical marijuana can reduce condition specific inflammation, which provides pain relief, as well as increase appetite, suppress vomiting and nausea, and decrease anxiety.
While research on medical marijuana for any condition can be limited due to marijuana’s federal status as a Schedule I drug, there are a few promising studies on how MMJ can be used for Crohn’s Disease:
- A 2013 clinical study published in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology Journal reported that when treated with cannabis, their patients Crohn’s symptoms went into remission. Versus those on the placebo medication, they also reported increased appetite.
- In 2011, “Treatment of Crohn’s Disease with Cannabis: An Observational Study,” conducted at Meir Hospital and Kupat Holim Clinic, was published in the Israel Medical Association Journal. The study examined 30 patients diagnosed with the condition who consumed cannabis. 100% of the patients reported that using cannabis resulted in a decrease in their disease activity, and 21 of the patients showed marked improvement, such as a reduction in symptoms and less frequent bowel movements.
- An early study published in 2004, “The Endogenous Cannabinoid System Protects Against Colonic Inflammation,” presented findings that medical marijuana has incredible anti-inflammatory effects. They wrote that cannabis, “represents a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of intestinal disease conditions characterized by excessive inflammatory responses.”
Is Cannabis Right for Your Symptoms?
As in all of our condition-specific articles, it’s important to note that while cannabis has great potential to help improve quality of life and decrease a wide-variety of symptoms, like any medication its effects will vary person to person.
In many of the studies conducted, researchers found that while cannabis sent patients symptoms into remission, other side effects were present, including sleepiness, memory loss, and confusion. However, they did note that the extent of the side effects were temporary and mild. Overall, patients reported a better quality of life.
If you’re suffering from IBD, like Crohn’s Disease or Colitis, and find yourself battling chronic pain, weight loss due to nonexistent appetite, and nausea, medical marijuana may be a viable course of treatment to help you gain a semblance of relief.