Cannabis vs Crohn’s Disease


Treatments for Crohn’s Disease and Colitis have been limited until recently, as they have now been included in some states as qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

Christopher Teague
May 24, 2016
Crohn's Disease

Crohn’s Disease and Colitis are painful, chronic conditions that can ruin someone’s quality of life, even when they aren’t acting up. When they are, these conditions can leave one writhing in pain, unable to function. Treatments for these conditions have been limited until recently, as they have now been included in some states as qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

What are the conditions of Crohn’s Disease

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Crohn’s disease causes chronic pain and inflammation throughout the gastrointestinal tract, causing swelling, constipation, persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, severe abdominal pain, cramping, and the sensation that bowels aren’t fully evacuated.

Ulcerative Colitis belongs to the same family of disorders, known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBS, but only affects the innermost layer of the colon. Symptoms are the same as Crohn’s but also include fever, decreased appetite, fatigue, unhealthy weight loss, and amenorrhea in women.

How does cannabis help?

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Cannabis has been used for centuries to treat the symptoms of IBS related diseases and was widely prescribed for these conditions until its legal status was changed almost 85 years ago. It wasn’t until 1942 that it was removed from the medical pharmacopeia.

More recently, The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America issued a statement in 2012 saying that the compounds found in the marijuana plant have been shown to play an important part in decreasing gastrointestinal inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids are well established, but it turns out that IBS patients have more receptors for these compounds in their colon and intestines that those without the condition, meaning that for them, the relief is even more profound.

Other researchers agree

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Researchers at the Institute of Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases at Chaim Sheba Medical Center performed a study that found people affected by the diseases showed significantly improved quality of life using inhaled medical cannabis, as well as increased appetite, healthy weight gain, and a decrease in symptoms severity and frequency. This led to a more normal life, greater ability to perform both professionally and socially, and decreased mental stress and depression.

Researchers at the Sire Manchester Hospital in England also published a study reporting that medical marijuana decreased pain and diarrhea in IBS patients.

Strains to try

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From both researchers and patients, there are several strains recommended for the symptoms of Crohn’s and Colitis.

  • Sour Grap : An indica to help lift spirits and decrease depression
  • Bubblegum:  An indica with up to 20% CBD for pain relief, anxiety relief, and decreased fatigue
  • American Beauty:  A sativa for all-day pain relief and freedom from depression
  • Sour Diesel: A family member of mine with Crohn’s personally recommends this strain, which is an invigorating sativa that banishes stress, pain, and depression for ling lasting relief while leaving them energized and able to accomplish day-to-day tasks

There are many more strains available, and by talking to your dispensary budtender, or looking up desired effects and strain types on websites like Leafly, you can find the right combination for you. The image above lists strains that Leafly recommends for gastrointestinal disorder.

Have you tried cannabis for your Crohn’s or Colitis? Does it help you manage pain and keep on weight? Share you story on social media or in the comments below.

Christopher Teague
May 24, 2016