Inflammatory Bowel Disease abbreviated as IBD refers to a set of disorders of the digestive tract. This is a severe condition that affects about 1.6 million Americans. The common types of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) include Crohn’s disease (inflammation of digestive tract lining) and ulcerative colitis (inflammation and sores in the lining of the intestines or colon). Inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, usually in the small bowel and the colon leads to issues with digestion, retention of nutrients from food, and waste removal from the body.
IBD affects both sexes at any age, but it commonly affects individuals between the ages of 15 and 45. The main cause of IBD is yet to be known but many consider that it results from combining genetic predisposition, immune dysfunction, and ecological factors.
The primary symptoms of IBD include diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, fever, and loss of weight. Sufferers will also experience skin rashes, anemia, arthritis, vomiting, appetite loss, and tiredness. While stress and diet can worsen the symptoms of IBD, other factors including age, cigarette smoking, and genetics can make you more liable to acquire the disease.
The cure for IBD is unknown but scientists are researching some new treatments which may help alleviate the pain and other symptoms from the condition. Among these new treatments is medical marijuana which is known for its huge medicinal properties.
Medical cannabis can be used to treat symptoms of IBD such as chronic abdominal cramps and may also help reduce inflammation that someone with the condition may experience.
How can cannabis help IBD?
Cannabis can improve the daily lives of people living with IBD. This medicinal plant is popular for its potent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. But surprisingly, the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is also influential in gut homeostasis.
The ECS is responsible for regulating many essential body functions such as mood, sleep, and hunger. The body produces its natural cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, and these stimulate the cannabinoid receptors in different parts of the body. The primary cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, THC and CBD interact with our endocannabinoids to relieve pain and other conditions.
Since inflammation and gastrointestinal (GI) motility have a connection to the ECS system, it explains why many IBD sufferers considered cannabis as an alternative to pharmaceutical pills. In survey data involving Canada and the US, it was discovered that between 15-20% of IBD sufferers were currently using cannabis to relieve their symptoms, with most of them acknowledging that they had used cannabis in the past.
Research on cannabis and IBD
Currently, there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove that cannabinoids are beneficial for relieving IBD symptoms.
Some research studies show that some cannabinoids may lessen inflammation or pain. A study in people discovered a significant difference between patients receiving cannabis for Crohn’s disease against those receiving placebo for Crohn’s disease.
Medical marijuana can be a good remedy for patients suffering from pain from IBD. But there’s a need for more studies to prove this. Hopefully soon, there’ll be more studies and information on the benefits of cannabis for this condition.