The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation states that Crohn’s disease belongs to a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and that 700,000 Americans are affected by the disease. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s most commonly affects the end of the small bowel (the ileum) and the beginning of the colon, but it may affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus. People suffering from Crohn’s often experience loss of appetite and may lose weight as a result. A feeling of low energy and fatigue is also common.
Crohn’s is a chronic disease, so this means patients will likely experience periods when the disease flares up and causes symptoms, followed by periods of remission when patients may not notices symptoms at all. The causes of Crohn’s disease are not well understood. Diet and stress may aggravate Crohn’s Disease, but they do not cause the disease on their own. Recent research suggests hereditary, genetics, and/or environmental factors contribute to the development of Crohn’s Disease.
The American College of Gastroenterology reports that “symptoms of Crohn’s disease depend on the severity and location of the intestinal inflammation and can range from none or mild, to severe. Symptoms may develop gradually or come on suddenly, without warning. Abdominal pain and cramping, persistent diarrhea (loose, watery, numerous bowel movements), blood in the stool and fever are hallmark symptoms of CD. Ulcers of the mouth, a lack of appetite, fatigue, nausea and vomiting and unexplained weight loss may also develop. With severe diarrhea and the digestive tracks’ inability to absorb nutrients, nutritional deficiencies may occur over time (http://patients.gi.org/topics/inflammatory-bowel-disease/#basics_2).”
Symptoms related to inflammation of the GI tract:
- Persistent Diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Urgent need to move bowels
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Sensation of incomplete evacuation
- Constipation (can lead to bowel obstruction)
General symptoms that may also be associated with IBD:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight Loss
- Night sweats
- Loss of normal menstrual cycle
Cannabis is widely used for symptomatic relief of many gastrointestinal-related issues, as well as chronic pain, anorexia and nausea. One study reports that “a significant portion of [Crohn’s disease] patients, particularly those with severe disease, use cannabis to relieve symptoms of pain, nausea, and appetite and to improve their overall mood. When medical cannabis is introduced into a patient’s Crohn’s disease healthcare regime, the symptoms are decreased and some patients find there are fewer outbreaks. According to Michelle P. Vu of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Department of Digestive Diseases, University of California Los Angeles, in Los Angeles, California, there is anecdotal evidence has suggested possible benefit to inhalational cannabis in Crohn’s disease, and existing research supports a role for the endocannabinoid system in mediating colonic inflammation.
Cannabinoid Receptors, referred to as CB1 and CB2, are an essential part of the human body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors all over the body. This system enables a connection between body and mind, signaling to all other systems when something feels good or bad. When the body is defensive against trauma, this system begins to fail, resulting in physical, mental and/or neurological conditions. The compounds THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) found in cannabis signal the same cannabinoid receptors as anandamide. The cannabinoid receptor AEA is commonly referred to as the “bliss molecule” because of its ability to relieve pain and anxiety. When a patient consumes medical marijuana they are essentially supplementing their naturally-occurring endocannabinoid system. If this system consistently has a shortage in the endocannabinoid system, disease or illness could develop.
Patients may need to experiment with a variety of methods available for medical marijuana consumption. Each patient should consult their medical marijuana physician for a recommendation on the method and strain to meet each patient’s unique needs. Click here to find out if you qualify for Florida medical marijuana.