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Crohn’s Disease and Medical Marijuana

Crohn’s disease is classified as an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and causes inflammation of the lining and wall of the large and/or small intestine. The causes are not known, but there are indications that the disease has a genetic component, in addition, the immune system changes that accompany Crohn’s suggest that it may be an immune disorder.

Cannabis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease Government-Sponsored Reviews

The effectiveness of cannabis and its derivatives for treating Crohn’s and other gastrointestinal disorders has been known for centuries. Recently, its value in treating nausea and pain has been proven in numerous studies and has been acknowledged by several comprehensive, government-sponsored reviews. In one, the Australian International Institute of Medicine concluded, “For patients who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication.”

Additional government-sponsored reviews on Cannabis use for Crohn’s patients have been conducted by the U.K. House of Lords Science and Technology Committee and the Australian National Task Force on Cannabis.

Crohn’s symptoms and complications

The most common symptoms of Crohn’s Disease are pain in the abdomen, diarrhea, and weight loss. There may also be rectal bleeding and fever. The most common complications of Crohn’s Disease are blockage of the intestine and ulceration that breaks through into surrounding tissues. Surgery is sometimes required.


Crohn’s and Cannabinoid Receptors

Research demonstrates that cannabis and cannabinoids are effective in treating the symptoms of these GI disorders in part because it interacts with the endogenous cannabinoid receptors in the digestive tract, which can result in calming spasms, assuaging pain, and improving motility. Cannabis has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and recent research has demonstrated that cannabinoids are immune system modulators, either enhancing or suppressing immune response.

There is now extensive anecdotal evidence from patients with IBS, Crohn’s disease and other painful GI disorders that cannabis eases cramping and helps modulate diarrhea, constipation and acid reflux. Recent laboratory research on the endogenous cannabinoid system in humans has identified that there are many cannabinoid receptors located in both the large and small intestine.


Crohn’s and Medical Marijuana: What To Know About Symptoms and Treatment

Cannabinoids for treating inflammatory bowel diseases: where are we and where do we go?

National Institutes of Health

The Cannabinoid 1 Receptor (CNR1) 1359 G/A Polymorphism Modulates Susceptibility to Ulcerative Colitis and the Phenotype in Crohn’s Disease

National Institutes of Health

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