Cannabis and Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) which causes inflammation to the lining and wall of the large and/or small intestine. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, weight loss, and fever. Severe cases can lead to removal of affected bowel segments. Recently Crohn’s has received new attention in the media for the capabilities of using cannabis as a treatment for the disease.
The cannabinoids in marijuana interact with CB receptors in the colon, intestines, brain and nervous system in several ways that help Crohn’s patients.
- Epithelial Permeability – THC has a protective effect; cannabinoids can enhance wound closure in the colon.
- Leukocyte recruitment – Leukocytes (white blood cells) are involved in the defense of an organism and protect it from disease by promoting or inhibiting inflammatory responses.
- Brain – Cannabinoid receptors in the brain provide reduced pain sensation, relief of nausea and feelings of “unpleasantness.”
- Enteric Nervous System – Cannabinoid receptors control secretion and motility (the over-activity of the intestinal tract). THC has been found to relieve motility and inhibit secretion associated with inflammation of the gut providing relief from diarrhea.
Continuing research is key to providing all patients with the most effective therapy with the least amount of side effects. Cannabis is a gentle holistic approach to treatment as opposed to the steroid and immune suppressors often prescribed that are known to cause many additional complications and contribute to the debilitating effects of Crohn’s disease.