Medical Cannabis for IBD: How Does It Work? - March 31, 2022

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) is a broad term used to describe medical conditions where the intestines or the gut of the patient gets inflated often. These disorders adversely affect the digestive tracts, further disrupting the working of the digestive system as a whole in the body of suffering patients.

With the way cannabis is being increasingly used in the treatment of numerous health problems, people are trying to explore its potential for the treatment of IBD as well. So, what are the findings? Is it in actuality an effective alternative to the traditional form of treatment of IBD? Can it help in the reduction of the severe symptoms with the right dosage?

Let’s read about all this and much more in the blog given below. We will break everything down here.

What Is IBD?

IBD or Inflammatory Bowel Diseases as the name suggests are diseases that cause chronic inflammation in the bowels of the afflicted patients. It is as painful and problematic as it sounds. Majorly there are three types of IBDs that are most commonly observable in patients.

  • Ulcerative Colitis: This condition occurs when the intestines of the patients get affected by intense pain and sores (more commonly referred to as ulcers). These symptoms start from the gut and sometimes spread to the long intestine and the rectum too.
  • Microscopic Colitis: It is more or less like a common colitis disorder but it’s only detectable with a microscope. Things get a little complex when the detection is not as easy, which is why this disease is quite dangerous.
  • Crohn’s Disease: A major inflammatory bowel disorder that has been troubling patients from time immemorial is Crohn’s disease. This disease causes extreme pain and inflammation in the lining of the intestines affecting deeper layers of the digestive system.

These diseases have certain characteristic symptoms which make them easily identifiable. Some of the most common ones include nausea, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, suppressed appetite, fatigue and extreme weight loss.

Did You Know: An estimate of 1.3 percent of US adults, which is about 3 million people, were diagnosed with IBD in 2015. Prevalence of IBD significantly increased from 2001 to 2018 among all medical beneficiaries, but particularly in the non-Hispanic Black adults.

What Are the Causes of IBD?

Since these diseases are primarily related to the digestive tract, there are many reasons that are credited for instigating IBD in the body of the patients. Some of the most recognizable ones include:

  • Geographical Location/Environmental Factors
  • Bad Eating Habits
  • Genetics or Heredity
  • Immune System Malfunction

These are only some of the recognizable causes of such bowel-related disorders, however more research needs to be done to accurately discover all other possible causes that are amiss. When one finds out all causes, only then can the best treatment for the disorder be found.

How Is IBD Treated With Traditional Medicines?

Before we start to deliberate further on the issue of using medical marijuana for IBD, we need to first be aware of the traditional medicines that were till date the only options for the treatment of this disorder. The list of medical drugs is given below.

  • Antibiotics: Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) & Metronidazole (Flagyl)
  • Immunity Improving Drugs: Azathioprine (Azasan, Imuran), Mercaptopurine (Purinethol, Purixan) & Methotrexate (Trexall)
  • Biologics: Golimumab (Simponi), Certolizumab (Cimzia), Infliximab (Remicade), Vedolizumab (Entyvio), Adalimumab (Humira) & Ustekinumab (Stelara)
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medication: Corticosteroids & Aminosalicylates

Apart from these medicines, what aids in the full recovery of patients from such severe diseases is the aspect of eating healthy and only consuming clean and stomach friendly food. In extreme cases, there are no other options for the IBD patients except to undergo severe drug therapy or even surgery.

Medical Marijuana for IBD: Is It a Valid Form of Treatment?

Medical Marijuana for IBD

Yes, cannabis is a valid alternative form of treatment for IBD. For the past few years, the medical industry has seen a huge boost in the consumption of cannabis for the treatment of many severe ailments such as cancer, chronic pain, anxiety, etc. When a natural form of therapy is working so effectively for so many problems, it makes sense for people to experiment it’s effectiveness for IBD as well.

What makes cannabis a valid option for IBD patients? The simple answer to this query is the way cannabis effects the body.

There are 100+ identified phytocannabinoids that can be extracted from the cannabis plants. These cannabinoids have a lot of potential in treating different symptoms of various disorders. Which means that depending on the situation at hand, people can make use of cannabis in the most accurate way possible.

Let us then cover all the symptoms of IBD that can be treated with the help of medical cannabis.

How Can Cannabis Help Manage Symptoms of IBD?

Cannabis has special therapeutic properties that work towards relieving some recognizable symptoms of severe disorders. Let us tick off the particular symptoms of IBD that cannabis especially works its magic on.

Reduces Abdominal Pain

Possibly the most recognizable benefit of consuming cannabis is pain relief. CBD and THC, the two major cannabinoids that people use more than any others, are both recognized for their pain relieving properties. Where THC binds with the endocannabinoid receptors inside the body to deliver such effects, CBD leads to a few secretive reactions in the user’s body ridding them of all painful symptoms.

For IBD patients, this particular effect of cannabis is most beneficial. Since the guts are known to swell in these disorders, it is pretty obvious how they will definitely cause the patients to suffer from intense and almost unbearable pain. There are many cannabis strains like the OG Skywalker, that could be particularly helpful for the patients.

Lowers Inflammation

The major symptom of IBD, which happens to be inflammation can also be sufficiently treated with the help of cannabis. A particular reaction called neutrophil influx is responsible for sending white blood cells to the site of outside invasion of bacteria and viruses in the body, helping the patient deal with many health problems. However, for patients with IBD, these same helpful cells malfunction and start attacking the protective lining of the intestines.

In order to stop this reaction from taking place, our bodies release special endocannabinoids. Cannabinoids from the cannabis plants bring about the same reactions that these endocannabinoids do. Which directly means that cannabinoids are quite worthy of being used as medications for the treatment of bowel disorders like Ulcerative Colitis, Microscopic Colitis and Crohn’s Disease to perform the same endocannabinoid-like functions.

Boosts Appetite

Another major symptom of IBD that can be rectified with a regular consumption of marijuana is appetite loss. What leads to an appetite disorder in people is when they are unable to digest whatever they’re eating. This results in an overall reduced appetite, giving birth to quite severe eating orders.
Cannabis is recognized for causing the ‘munchies effect’ in patients who are particularly suffering from debilitating conditions. And since IBD is one, allotting the right dosage of marijuana could be particularly helpful.

Curbs Nausea

Marijuana is also particularly helpful in getting rid of nauseous symptoms. Nausea is a problem which makes the patient feel the need to puke frequently. This constant sick feeling can lead to appetite suppression and diarrhea in the long term for severe cases.

If the patient isn’t willing to smoke or consume a cannabis flower, there are other cannabis infused products in the market like gummies, capsules, edibles, shots, etc. which can be used as per convenience and personal choice.

Relieves Stress or Anxiety

The most commonly recognized and revered benefit that the use of marijuana brings about in cannabis users is stress relief. IBD patients are known to be anxious at all times because of the stress that prevails and remains due to their medical condition. If they’re not eating right, they’re stressed, if they are not sleeping right, again a lot of stress. This level of anxiety then becomes a huge obstacle to get over for these IBD patients.

Such patients can then again choose to consume cannabis in their preferred method, be it inhalation, ingestion or even sublingual. Apart from this what is important for the patients to do is practice meditation and relaxation.

Related article
Medical Marijuana for Anxiety

Fights Fatigue

When the patient is suffering from such tiring symptoms day in and day out and is constantly stressed, he or she will then obviously have no energy left to carry out their routine tasks. Fatigue is quite common in IBD patients which can be solved with the help of marijuana.

THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is a cannabinoid that reacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors inside the brain and brings invigorating effects in the body of the patients. They experience a ‘high-like’ or euphoric feeling which immediately either relaxes them or infuses them with renewed vigor and energy.

Best Medical Strain for IBD – Which One Is Best for You?

best medical strain for IBD

As we’ve already fueled the conversation of cannabis strains working quite effectively in the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, it becomes imperative to then list a few of such strains so that the patient knows which one to try out when they’re especially suffering and want instant relief. Smoking strains is usually considered to be the fastest and most effective method of cannabis consumption, which makes this step highly important.

Pineapple Express

The main effects of smoking the Pineapple Express strain are both appetite stimulating and pain relief which can further help get rid of the severe abdominal pain that affects the IBD patients. On top of that, this strain is a rather refreshing one and patients particularly enjoy indulging in it. The combination of delicious aroma and the long lasting energetic effects are truly one in a million, which makes this strain really special for all patients alike.

Willie Nelson

Named after the famous singer, this sativa dominant strain is used popularly for the energetic effects that it brings about in the body of the patients. As one of the symptoms of IBD happens to be extreme fatigue, there is nothing better to smoke than Willie Nelson!

Critical Mass

Critical Mass is a hybrid strain made by crossing the Skunk#1 and Afghani strains, which both happen to be quite famous among patients and stoners alike. IBD patients can notice a significant reduction in both pain as well as inflammation symptoms that are assaulting their gut. A few puffs of this strain will infuse them with a lot of energy which will then fizzle out and give them peaceful sleep at night.

OG Skywalker

We’ve remarked on the wondrous effects of experiencing the all powerful force of the OG Skywalker strain to dispel painful symptoms of IBD. It needed a reiteration due to the sheer potent effects that it sparks in the user’s body. Feeling down and not particularly active? Rolling the beautiful flowers of this bud into the best looking joint will take you to the top of the world where no symptoms will be felt by you.

Charlotte’s Web

Nothing is as simple as using a high quality Charlotte’s Web strain for reducing the inflammation that lines the walls of your intestines. Which is why it is also used in a number of formulations to maximize the effect of the use of this strain by people who don’t prefer smoking. Patients who have never used this strain before must make sure to start with quite a low dosage so that the effects do not overpower them.

Super Lemon Haze

As the name itself suggests this strain comes with a fruity and lemony aroma and taste. Which makes the practice of smoking it particularly fun and interesting. The effects are also what you would generally expect from something that is so refreshing and citrusy. Since the THC content of this strain lies between 15 to 20%, it means that it will uplift the mood and also bring about a feeling of general wellness in the IBD patients.

Final Thoughts

We have successfully expanded on the topic of medical cannabis for the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases like Ulcerative Colitis, Microscopic Colitis and Crohn’s Disease in this blog. Since there exists a strong possibility for the patients suffering from IBD to find deep relief with the regular consumption of cannabis, it would be a mistake to not try them out.

However, before you go ahead and consider using medical marijuana for IBD, you must get a recommendation from a licensed doctor. They can guide you through the proper use of cannabis and write a recommendation to use cannabis legally. You can visit Online Medical Card to have a consultation online or visit a clinic near you.

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