Crohn’s Disease: How and Why Cannabis Helps

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Crohn’s disease is a condition that hosts a myriad of unpleasant symptoms. Generally presenting in the late adolescent years and early twenties, the inflammatory response it causes in the colon tends to result in abdominal pain, cramping as well as diarrhea and even bloody stool.

Normally, the treatment of Crohn’s disease would involve the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, immune suppressing drugs and steroid treatments. However, because Crohn’s disease is inflammatory in nature, cannabidiol oil can be used to treat many of the symptoms secondary to inflammation. Many of the other symptoms such as nausea, pain and weight loss can be treated with THC products as THC improves appetite and regulates gastric emptying. THC is also a powerful analgesic, meaning that it will drastically decrease the perception of pain.

Outside of the gastrointestinal tract, we can see many associated conditions that can manifest secondary to Crohn’s disease, namely arthritic issues. Swelling and stiffness of the joints is a frequent complaint in Crohn’s patients.  In a similar fashion to the colon, CBD can be used for the inflammation and joint mobility.

One of the most neglected areas that cannabis can help in Crohn’s disease is regarding stress and anxiety. A consistent cause of Crohn’s flare-ups is acute stress. Many patients find that if they are using cannabis products (namely THC)  prophylactically the incidence of flare ups tends to decrease over time. THC (and even CBD) are powerful anxiolytics meaning they decrease anxiety. Less anxiety means fewer flare ups. Fewer flare ups means a better quality of life.

The most serious risk with Crohn’s is the intestinal fistulas which can lead to colonic resections. Here a large segment of the colon is removed. With so much as stake how can we trust cannabis? Is there any hard evidence done in a scientific setting to show that cannabis has a statistically significant impact?

In 2011, Naftali, et al. from the Institute of Gastroenterology at Meir Medical Center in Tel Aviv found that of the 30 patients involved 21 had improved significantly after treatment with cannabis. Furthermore, before using cannabis 15 of the patients underwent 19 surgeries. After the use of cannabis, only two required surgical intervention for the treatment of Crohn’s disease. Additionally, Naftali did a follow up study in 2013 that found almost half (5 out of 11) of the subjects went into complete remission. Cannabinoids can not only manage inflammatory bowel diseases but may make them a thing of the past for a subsection of patients.

Cannabis as an alternative to steroid treatments have been shown to be effective without the plethora of unpleasant drug induced side-effects.

The 420 Clinic works with doctors and clinicians who understand the pathogenesis and symptoms of Crohn’s disease. If you or anyone you know sufferers from Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis or any inflammatory bowel disease, give the 420 clinic a call.


Dr. Ifeoluwa Abiola, B.Sc, MD.
Medical Director – 420 Clinic Ltd.

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