What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is one of a number of inflammatory conditions that affect every individual it strikes differently. It attacks the digestive system in either the small intestine or colon (large intestine) by causing severe inflammation throughout the tract, leading into the rectum.
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease that can impact the digestive system include the following:
- Persistent diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Urgent need to have a bowel movement
Patients may also experience general symptoms that include:
- Weight loss
- Nausea or appetite loss
- Menstrual cycle disruption in women
Other symptoms that can affect other parts of the body include:
- Painful and sore joints
- Red, itchy painful eyes
- Bumpy, red, tender skin
Although Crohn’s is often misinterpreted as an autoimmune disease, it’s a disease caused by an immune deficiency. While there is no cure for Crohn’s, there are a number of methods that can be enlisted to ease the pain, inflammation, and flare ups that go along with the disease.
Crohn’s Disease & Support of Medicinal Cannabis
In Israel, scientists at the Meir Medical Center engaged in a study to examine the effects of using Cannabis sativa on patients with severe Crohn’s disease, relying on the herb’s anti-inflammatory qualities in treating arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
In a statement by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) Patient Education Committee, which appeared in a January, 2012 “CCFA Medical Position Statement on Medical Marijuana” email to ProCon.org from March 4, 2013:
“Experimental evidence suggests that endocannabanoids, molecules found in the body that closely resemble compounds found in the cannabis (marijuana) plant, may play a role in limiting intestinal inflammation. Several small studies have shown that a significant proportion of patients with IBD [Inflammatory Bowel Disease] report smoking marijuana to relieve IBD-related symptoms, particularly those patients with a history of abdominal surgery, chronic abdominal pain, and/or a low quality of life index. However, the medicinal use of marijuana is limited by potential side effects, the risk of smoking, and the lack of direct scientific evidence of clinical effectiveness for intestinal inflammation…”
Although the CCFA has not endorsed the use of medicinal marijuana as a viable treatment option for certain conditions of Crohn’s disease, it has acknowledged that medical marijuana may temporarily reduce pain and nausea.
There is also some support for the use of medicinal cannabis as noted in a 2015 article from the journal Annals of Gastroenterology stating: “...herbal and plant remedies that have been shown in studies to reduce active Crohn’s disease include wormwood, cannabis, Boswellia serrata, and Tripterygium wilfordii.”
More controlled studies are needed on the benefits of medical cannabis to treat some symptoms from Crohn’s disease. And there has been more and more evidence over the years of success from patient use of the marijuana herb.
Crohn’s Disease & Measures of Success
Patients who’ve endured the painful conditions associated with Crohn’s disease are often torn between whether to try an alternative method of treatment, follow traditional treatment methods—including taking strong immune system suppressant medications for relief, or just living and enduring the crippling abdominal pain and all-too-frequent visits to the restroom. But, with just a few bites of a hash brownie, a patient experiencing debilitating symptoms like these can find relief to get through the day.
In another example, a young patient who had been living with Crohn’s since childhood had grown into a teenager suffering with symptoms that would leave him with little to no appetite, chronic fatigue, and weakness preventing him from standing for long periods of time and relegating him to a wheelchair. With the treatment of cannabis brownies, within a few weeks he was walking and hiking freely through the mountains of Colorado. The patient’s Crohn’s symptoms went into remission.
And finally, another patient with Crohn’s conditions that had progressed to terminal stages found that the benefits of cannabis oil in treating her symptoms would ultimately save her life. After multiple surgeries, extensive pharmaceuticals drug treatments, and drastic weight loss from her body losing its ability to absorb any nutrition from food, she began experimenting with cannabis oil. The results were life transforming. The medicinal value of what a simple herb could do is still what this story is all about.
Crohn’s Disease & The Future of Medicinal Cannabis
Legalized marijuana in the U.S. is growing in acceptance and availability in a number of states, which have allowed dispensaries to open expressly to treat patients with medical cannabis to provide relief for a number of medically approved conditions. Though state laws vary, if you feel that you might benefit from medicinal cannabis, check your state’s regulations.
If you’re experiencing uncomfortable symptoms or side effects from traditional medical treatments, talk with your doctor about all of the options available to you. Your condition just might benefit from treatment with medicinal cannabis.