There’s some evidence that cannabis can help reduce symptoms in people with Crohn’s disease, including nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, cramping, and joint pain. But it’s not clear that cannabis can treat or prevent the disease in the long term.
The best approach to treating Crohn’s is to use the medications recommended by your doctor. Some of those include drugs that suppress the immune system, such as methotrexate and adalimumab-atto (Amjevita).
What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the digestive tract. It can occur in any part of the gastrointestinal system from the mouth to the end of your rectum (anus).
Although the cause is not known, it appears to be an autoimmune disorder, meaning that your body’s immune system mistakes the healthy tissues and cells in your digestive tract for dangerous viruses or bacteria. It also may be linked to heredity, which is why it’s more common in people who have a family history of the condition.
Treatment for Crohn’s disease involves medication, changes in your diet and sometimes surgery. It’s intended to relieve symptoms, prevent complications and help you heal the inflamed intestines.
Medicines for mild to moderate symptoms include oral 5-aminosalicylates and corticosteroids. These drugs are usually taken by mouth, but they can be given rectally, too.
These drugs may control diarrhea or suppress stomach pain and fever. They are often used with other medications to treat the inflammation caused by Crohn’s.
You should be careful not to overdo the amount of medications you take, since too many of them can lead to serious side effects like thinning bones and kidney damage. The right balance of medicines and a healthy diet is essential for good health and treatment.
Other ways to treat your Crohn’s symptoms include changing the food you eat and taking a supplement that can help your body absorb vitamins D, iron and calcium. A vitamin D deficiency can worsen symptoms of diarrhea and make it difficult for you to digest your food.
Aside from medication, some people with Crohn’s use alternative therapies like acupuncture and herbal supplements to relieve their symptoms. Studies are ongoing on these options, but they may be helpful in reducing the need for medications and avoiding certain side effects.
Some people with Crohn’s have a higher risk of developing bowel obstruction, which can be life-threatening. This happens when scar tissue builds up in the intestines, preventing food from flowing through the digestive tract properly.
If you have severe symptoms, you may need to undergo an ileostomy, which connects your small intestine to your stomach, creating an opening in the skin for waste to pass through. The procedure is not common, but it may be the best choice if you have severe disease.
Some of the more common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramping. Your doctor may give you medication to control your symptoms and prevent flares.
The condition can also cause severe complications, called systemic inflammation, that affect your whole body. These complications can happen in your skin (erythema nodosum), lungs, eyes, kidneys, heart valves, and joints.
You can get skin tags, which are small flaps of skin that itch or burn. They may appear on your shins, ankles, and arms. You can also develop pyoderma gangrenosum, which are pus-filled sores that form after an injury or other trauma to your skin.
A bacterial infection in your intestines can also create ulcers and fistulas. These can be painful and can lead to other health problems, including bladder infections and a perianal fistula, which is a connection between your anus and your perineum.
Other bowel complications that you may have with Crohn’s include a bowel obstruction and strictures, which can narrow your bowel wall so it can’t move properly. Strictures may need surgery to widen or remove them.
Kidney stones are another complication of Crohn’s that can lead to kidney failure and require treatment. They occur when a salt, called oxalate, is absorbed into your kidneys and forms stone deposits. This can be caused by a medication that you take for your Crohn’s, such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium.
Some people with Crohn’s have a higher risk of getting an intestinal infection from bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi, which can make your symptoms worse and lead to complications. You also have a higher risk of developing malnutrition due to chronic diarrhea and stomach cramping that makes it hard for your intestines to absorb enough nutrients.
A blood test can help your doctor see if you have high numbers of white blood cells and low red blood cells, which can indicate anemia. Approximately one in three people with Crohn’s have anemia.
Your doctor may recommend imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans, to look at the inside of your gastrointestinal tract. These images give your doctor a better view of the area where your Crohn’s is located.
There are a number of different treatment options for Crohn’s disease. These include medications, such as glucocorticoids (cortisone) and aminosalicylates (a class of pain relievers that decrease inflammation). Calcium and vitamin D supplements can also help to reduce inflammation in your bones.
Some people with Crohn’s disease also try cannabis to help control their symptoms. This is called “medical marijuana” and may be legally purchased in many states. Marijuana is a plant that contains different cannabinoids and other compounds.
Cannabis can be taken orally, or smoked. If smoked, the THC in marijuana gets into your bloodstream through your lungs, and it can cause the “high” effect that you get from other drugs.
Medical cannabis has been used for centuries to treat a variety of illnesses, including some forms of cancer and glaucoma. It can help reduce pain, nausea and appetite.
The role of cannabis in treating Crohn’s disease hasn’t been fully explored, but several small studies have suggested that it may be helpful for some patients with the disease. Some of these studies have shown that the use of cannabis has improved pain, appetite and diarrhea in IBD patients.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that cannabis can have some negative side effects as well. These can include addiction, decreased mental ability in children who start using it as adolescents, and difficulty breathing.
In addition, long-term use of cannabis can cause problems called “cannabis hyperemesis syndrome,” which causes nausea and vomiting. This can make it difficult to continue taking the medicine.
Currently, there are no clinical trials to study the effectiveness of cannabis in treating Crohn’s disease. The main reason for this is that there aren’t enough patients with the disease to conduct well-designed trials.
But there are some research projects that are trying to find out more about the role of cannabis in treating Crohn’s. Some of these studies are looking at how it affects the immune system in your body, which may help to treat the disease and prevent it from getting worse.
Another study is testing a combination of CBD and THC to see how it works in people with Crohn’s disease. This is a promising study that will help add to the evidence for the potential benefits of medical cannabis in the treatment of this condition.
The role of cannabis in treating Crohn’s disease is controversial, but there are some promising results from a small number of studies. It can help relieve symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and bloating. It can also reduce the amount of medications required to manage the condition.
It is not an FDA-approved medication, so it must be carefully considered in light of potential side effects. Patients should speak with their doctor about using it before starting it.
There are many types of cannabis products, including edibles (cookies, candy), tinctures, capsules, and oils. There is some evidence that the THC in cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties. However, this is not enough to support its use as a treatment for IBD.
Currently, there are no FDA-approved drugs for IBD. This makes the role of cannabis in treating Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis unclear at this time.
Research suggests that the THC in marijuana may be able to decrease inflammation in the gut and reduce the need for anti-inflammatory medications. This is based on preclinical data that shows that the THC in marijuana can have anti-inflammatory effects by downregulating cytokine production, upregulating T-regulatory cells, and preventing the formation of chemokines.
Another way that THC can affect the gut is by increasing bowel movements. People with Crohn’s can have difficulty getting a bowel movement because of bleeding or other complications. It is a good idea to have regular bowel movements so that the body can clear out waste.
If you have trouble getting a bowel movement, talk to your doctor about getting tested for a bacterial infection, like the coronavirus, which causes an outbreak of stomach flu-like symptoms in some people with Crohn’s. The test can help doctors find the right treatment for you.
A recent study found that cannabis was effective at reducing the need for pain medication in people with Crohn’s. It also helped to relieve bloating and nausea.
This research is still ongoing and requires larger, well-designed drug trials. While this may be a long road, it does suggest that it is worth considering marijuana in the treatment of Crohn’s disease.