New research released just a few months ago confirms earlier studies and ancient evidence that Cannabis sativa is an effective therapy against Crohn’s disease.
Marijuana has been known for centuries as a treatment for gastrointestinal disorders. Because of marijuana’s status as a controlled substance, most studies have been small, but they have been increasingly common over the past 10 years.
In the journal Pharmacology, Researchers R.Schicho, Ph.D. and M. Storr published results of the first clinical trial on the effects of cannabis on IBD, Cannabis Finds Its Way into Treatment of 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.
Schicho and Storr found that cannabinoids in marijuana provide anti-inflammatory and symptom reduction in the vast majority of patients with IBD with very limited side effects.
“… an 8-week treatment with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-rich cannabis caused a decrease in the Crohn’s disease activity index in 90% of patients without producing significant side effects.”
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.
What makes this study even more interesting is that the patients were unresponsive or resistant to conventional IBD treatment, yet 90% found relief with medical marijuana. It is well-known that steroid and immune suppressors often cause many additional complications and contribute to the debilitating effects of Crohn’s disease. Continuing research is key to providing all patients with the most effective therapy with the least amount of side effects.