CBD for Crohn’s Disease [Why it Works]
Medical marijuana is quickly making a big move into the mainstream world. The public support for the legalization of cannabis is increasing at a rapid rate and for very good reason. People are beginning to wake up to the fact that cannabis could be the answer to many serious health issues. In fact, a recent study found that a staggering 89% of Americans are supporters of medical cannabis.
People often talk about cannabis as a “magical product,” giving health benefits and cures that can only be thought of as miraculous by those who are familiar with its various medicinal properties. But the truth is, there’s a lot of science behind the cannabinoids in marijuana plants.
There’s extensive new research that is tapping into the medical properties of the marijuana plant, with the intention to help us better understand the conditions that cannabis can treat.
Crohn’s disease is just one of the many ailments that cannabis can help alleviate the symptoms of. Both science and firsthand experiences are indicating exactly how CBD helps with Crohn’s disease. In this article, we will cover what Crohn’s disease is, who suffers from it, and how CBD can help. We will also look at ways you can consume CBD for maximum therapeutic relief.
Crohn’s Disease 101
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Simply put, it is a condition that causes inflammation of the gut or digestive system. Although Crohn’s can affect any part of the gut, two of the most common areas are the ileum (which is the last part of the small intestine) and the colon. Those who have Crohn’s disease suffer from long-term swelling and irritation in the gastrointestinal tract, which leads to very painful stomach cramps and diarrhea.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three million people in North America suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Unfortunately, western medication offers no known cure for it, although there are some treatments.
Crohn’s is a condition that can result in abdominal pain, severe vomiting (although this is less common), diarrhea and bloody stool, extreme weight loss and even skin and eye conditions. Anyone who suffers from Crohn’s disease will tell you that it’s a debilitating ailment that causes extreme pain and disruption in day to day life.
Also, Crohn’s is considered a chronic condition which means that it is ongoing and likely to be life-long. It’s very possible that those who suffer from the condition will experience periods of good health, and then times when symptoms are more active or flare up.
The symptoms will vary between individuals and they often depend on where in the gut the disease is active. These symptoms will range from mild to severe and may change over time. Some of the most common symptoms (along with those we already mentioned above) are the following:
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Anemia (a reduced level of red blood cells)
- Mouth ulcers
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Feeling generally unwell or feverish
- Abdominal pain and diarrhea
Who Suffers from Crohn’s Disease?
Affecting as many as 780,000 Americans, it’s important to understand who is at risk of developing this disease. Crohn’s can occur at any age, but it tends to onset in adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 35. It can affect both men and women, but women are more likely to have Crohn’s disease.
While we do not fully understand the exact causes of Crohn’s, diet and stress appear to be major factors that can aggravate it. Also, the latest research suggests that genetics and a combination of hereditary and environmental factors may contribute to the development of the condition.
The immune system also plays a major role, but it is unclear exactly how. Researchers don’t consider Crohn’s disease to be an autoimmune disease (in which the body’s immune system attacks itself). Instead, the immune system may be attacking something else, like a virus, in the intestines.
At present, there is no medical cure for Crohn’s disease in mainstream medicine, but surgery and medication can give long periods of release from symptoms. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical treatments for Crohn’s may have adverse side effects such as headaches, vomiting, night sweats, skin diseases, infections, and nausea, just to name a few.
This is where cannabis comes in, and more specifically, CBD. For those who suffer from this debilitating disease, there is hope. This is because CBD is a natural remedy that could provide incredible relief for many dozens of medical ailments, including Crohn’s disease.
How CBD Can Help with Crohn’s Disease
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical found in cannabis, and although it comes from the same plant as THC, it doesn’t contain any psychoactive effects, meaning it won’t get you high.CBD also has very mild side effects in comparison to almost all other medications, and it poses no risk of addiction. Thus, it is a great option for patients looking for pain relief – especially those who want to avoid opioids and their adverse effects.
Pharmaceutical medications can help in treating the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, but some people may feel like the side effects (such as those mentioned above) are simply too distressing. As research into cannabis intensifies, scientists are discovering how cannabinoids may be a less risky way to treat Crohn’s disease.
In their observational study, researchers in Israel monitored and assessed the effects of cannabis use on patients with IBD. One hundred twenty-seven licensed medicinal cannabis patients took part in the study. The researchers closely monitored these participants using several evaluative measures. These included methods of consumption and monthly consumption rate, the use of other medications, adverse effects, as well as the long-term effects of medicinal cannabis use. The authors also measured the exact THC and CBD concentrations these patients consumed.
After undergoing treatment for forty-four months, the researchers used the Harvey-Bradshaw Index to evaluate the effects of medicinal cannabis use on patient outcomes. The Harvey-Bradshaw Index score decreased from 11 to 5 (a lower score is indicative of an improvement in the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease). Average daily bowel movements decreased from 7.0 to 3.4. Patients also reported experiencing a significant reduction in pain.
Encouragingly, 78% of participating patients reported that they experienced no harmful side effects. Some patients experienced minor side effects, such as dry mouth and memory decline. However, these patients also stated that the improvement in their symptoms outweighed these side effects.
Naftali et al., who carried out the study, concluded that cannabis use can induce clinical improvement in patients with IBD and that it is associated with reduced medication use and weight gain. The researchers also noted that these patients responded well to a dose of 30g per month, or 21mg THC, and 170mg CBD per day.
Ways to consume CBD for Crohn’s Disease
If you decide to try CBD for Crohn’s disease it is important to remember is that you should continue taking all the medications that your doctor prescribes. Additionally, discuss any other treatments you are interested in trying (including CBD) with your doctor. If you do end up trying CBD, here are a few of the ways you can take it:
This is possibly the easiest and most precise way to get your daily CBD supplement. It’s a fast and simple answer, and perfect for people who don’t particularly like the taste of cannabis, the act of vaping, or the process of ingesting raw oils. Basically, CBD pills are the #1 choice for those who have busy schedules as they only take seconds to consume.
CBD e-liquid can be heated and inhaled through an e-cigarette, vape pen or vaporizer. CBD e-liquid is also known as vape juice and is specifically made to be vaped. This is an important distinction to be made from raw CBD oil, which you are meant to ingest by placing under the tongue and then swallowing. Make sure if you choose to vape that your product is free of PG, PEG and vegetable glycerin and is not an off-market brand that may contain the very dangerous Vitamin E acetate.
While CBD edibles take a while to take effect (usually about 30 minutes but possibly up to 2 hours), they present the benefit of longer lasting effects. CBD edibles can be very easy to make, and many of the best ones out there are delicious. This is a great choice for anyone wanting to combine CBD with their daily diet and nutritional intake. However, as the goal is to decrease inflammation, avoid edibles with inflammatory additives like sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or vegetable oils.
There are a number of other ways to consume CBD (include dabbing which allows for intense potency), but these are by far the most common and most popular. What matters most is that if you are wanting to give CBD for Crohn’s disease a try, there is no need to worry about having to smoke it. There are many CBD products available on the market, and it’s all about discovering which one works best for you.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Crohn’s Disease
More research still needs to be done in order to determine the efficiency and long-term effects of the cannabis-based therapy.
However, with the growing support of medical cannabis, it’s highly likely that more funds and effort will be put behind conducting additional studies and additional clinical research.
We hope that this post has been informative, educational, and hopefully cleared up any uncertainties that you may have had surrounding CBD and Crohn’s disease.
Roughly 24 million Americans suffer from a type of inflammatory disease. If you are one of them, then find out how CBD works for Crohn's Disease.
What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is a long-term condition that results in inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, occurring anywhere from the mouth to the anus. Common symptoms include fever, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and weight loss. Crohn’s disease is characterized by periods of relapse when people are actively experiencing symptoms and periods of remission when the symptoms stop.
What are Cannabis and Cannabinoids?
Cannabis is a widely used drug which acts on the endocannabinoid system. Cannabis contains multiple components called cannabinoids. The use of cannabis and cannabis oil containing specific cannabinoids produces mental and physical effects such as altered sensory perception and euphoria when consumed. Some cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, do not have a psychoactive effect. Cannabis and cannabidiol have some anti-inflammatory properties that might help people with Crohn’s disease.
What did the researchers investigate?
The researchers studied whether cannabis is better than placebo (e.g. a sugar pill) therapy for treating adults with active Crohn’s disease or Crohn’s disease that is in remission.
What did the researchers find?
The researchers extensively searched the literature up to 17 October 2018 and found three studies (93 participants) that met the inclusion criteria. One ongoing study was also identified. All of the studies were small in size and had some quality issues. One small study (21 participants) compared eight weeks of treatment with cannabis cigarettes containing 115 mg of D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to placebo cigarettes containing cannabis with the THC removed in participants with active Crohn’s disease who had failed at least one medical treatment. Although no difference in clinical remission rates was observed, more participants in the cannabis group had improvement in their Crohn’s disease symptoms than participants in the placebo group. More side effects were observed in the cannabis cigarette group compared to placebo. These side effects were considered to be mild in nature and included sleepiness, nausea, difficulty with concentration, memory loss, confusion and dizziness. Participants in the cannabis cigarette group reported improvements in pain, appetite and satisfaction with treatment.
One small study (22 participants) compared cannabis oil (10 mg of cannabidiol twice daily) to placebo oil (i.e. olive oil) in participants with active Crohn’s disease who had failed at least one medical treatment. No difference in clinical remission rates was observed. There was no difference in serious side effects. Serious side effects included worsening Crohn’s disease in one participant in each group.
One small study (50 participants) compared cannabis oil (composed of 15% cannabidiol and 4% THC) to placebo oil in participants with active Crohn’s disease. Positive differences in quality of life and the Crohn’s disease activity index were observed.
The effects of cannabis and cannabis oil on Crohn’s disease are uncertain. No firm conclusions regarding the benefits and harms (e.g. side effects) of cannabis and cannabis oil in adults with Crohn’s disease can be drawn. The effects of cannabis and cannabis oil in people with Crohn’s disease in remission have not been investigated. Further studies with larger numbers of participants are required to assess the potential benefits and harms of cannabis in Crohn’s disease. Future studies should assess the effects of cannabis in people with active and inactive Crohn’s disease. Different doses of cannabis and formulations (e.g. cannabis oil or pills) should be investigated.
The effects of cannabis and cannabis oil on Crohn’s disease are uncertain. Thus no firm conclusions regarding the efficacy and safety of cannabis and cannabis oil in adults with active Crohn’s disease can be drawn. The effects of cannabis or cannabis oil in quiescent Crohn’s disease have not been investigated. Further studies with larger numbers of participants are required to assess the potential benefits and harms of cannabis in Crohn’s disease. Future studies should assess the effects of cannabis in people with active and quiescent Crohn’s disease. Different doses of cannabis and delivery modalities should be investigated.
Crohn’s disease (CD) is a chronic immune-mediated condition of transmural inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, associated with significant morbidity and decreased quality of life. The endocannabinoid system provides a potential therapeutic target for cannabis and cannabinoids and animal models have shown benefit in decreasing inflammation. However, there is also evidence to suggest transient adverse events such as weakness, dizziness and diarrhea, and an increased risk of surgery in people with CD who use cannabis.
The objectives were to assess the efficacy and safety of cannabis and cannabinoids for induction and maintenance of remission in people with CD.
We searched MEDLINE, Embase, AMED, PsychINFO, the Cochrane IBD Group Specialized Register, CENTRAL, ClinicalTrials.Gov, and the European Clinical Trials Register up to 17 October 2018. We searched conference abstracts, references and we also contacted researchers in this field for upcoming publications.
Randomized controlled trials comparing any form of cannabis or its cannabinoid derivatives (natural or synthetic) to placebo or an active therapy for adults with Crohn’s disease were included.
Two authors independently screened search results, extracted data and assessed bias using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. The primary outcomes were clinical remission and relapse. Remission is commonly defined as a Crohn’s disease activity index (CDAI) of 150. Secondary outcomes included clinical response, endoscopic remission, endoscopic improvement, histological improvement, quality of life, C-reactive protein (CRP) and fecal calprotectin measurements, adverse events (AEs), serious AEs, withdrawal due to AEs, and cannabis dependence and withdrawal effects. We calculated the risk ratio (RR) and corresponding 95% confidence interval (95% CI) for dichotomous outcomes. For continuous outcomes, we calculated the mean difference (MD) and 95% CI. Data were combined for analysis when the interventions, patient groups and outcomes were sufficiently similar (determined by consensus). Data were analyzed on an intention-to-treat basis and the overall certainty of the evidence supporting the outcomes was evaluated using the GRADE criteria.
Three studies (93 participants) that assessed cannabis in people with active CD met the inclusion criteria. One ongoing study was also identified. Participants in two of the studies were adults with active Crohn’s disease who had failed at least one medical treatment. The inclusion criteria for the third study were unclear. No studies that assessed cannabis therapy in quiescent CD were identified. The studies were not pooled due to differences in the interventional drug.
One small study (N = 21) compared eight weeks of treatment with cannabis cigarettes containing 115 mg of D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to placebo cigarettes containing cannabis with the THC removed in participants with active CD. This study was rated as high risk of bias for blinding and other bias (cannabis participants were older than placebo). The effects of cannabis on clinical remission were unclear. Forty-five per cent (5/11) of the cannabis group achieved clinical remission compared with 10% (1/10) of the placebo group (RR 4.55, 95% CI 0.63 to 32.56; very low certainty evidence). A difference was observed in clinical response (decrease in CDAI score of >100 points) rates. Ninety-one per cent (10/11) of the cannabis group achieved a clinical response compared to 40% (4/10) of the placebo group (RR 2.27, 95% CI 1.04 to 4.97; very low certainty evidence). More AEs were observed in the cannabis cigarette group compared to placebo (RR 4.09, 95% CI 1.15 to 14.57; very low certainty evidence). These AEs were considered to be mild in nature and included sleepiness, nausea, difficulty with concentration, memory loss, confusion and dizziness. This study did not report on serious AEs or withdrawal due to AEs.
One small study (N = 22) compared cannabis oil (5% cannabidiol) to placebo oil in people with active CD. This study was rated as high risk of bias for other bias (cannabis participants were more likely than placebo participants to be smokers). There was no difference in clinical remission rates. Forty per cent (4/10) of cannabis oil participants achieved remission at 8 weeks compared to 33% (3/9) of the placebo participants (RR 1.20, 95% CI 0.36 to 3.97; very low certainty evidence). There was no difference in the proportion of participants who had a serious adverse event. Ten per cent (1/10) of participants in the cannabis oil group had a serious adverse event compared to 11% (1/9) of placebo participants (RR 0.90, 95% CI 0.07 to 12.38, very low certainty evidence). Both serious AEs were worsening Crohn’s disease that required rescue intervention. This study did not report on clinical response, CRP, quality of life or withdrawal due to AEs.
One small study (N= 50) compared cannabis oil (15% cannabidiol and 4% THC) to placebo in participants with active CD. This study was rated as low risk of bias. Differences in CDAI and quality of life scores measured by the SF-36 instrument were observed. The mean quality of life score after 8 weeks of treatment was 96.3 in the cannabis oil group compared to 79.9 in the placebo group (MD 16.40, 95% CI 5.72 to 27.08, low certainty evidence). After 8 weeks of treatment, the mean CDAI score was118.6 in the cannabis oil group compared to 212.6 in the placebo group (MD -94.00, 95%CI -148.86 to -39.14, low certainty evidence). This study did not report on clinical remission, clinical response, CRP or AEs.
Cochrane What is Crohn’s disease? Crohn’s disease is a long-term condition that results in inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, occurring anywhere from the mouth to the anus. Common