Crohn’s Disease and Medical Marijuana

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Crohn’s Disease is one of Pennsylvania’s qualifying conditions to receive a medical marijuana card. Though it can be categorized as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), it is a condition that is more specific and unique than IBD itself. However, like any chronic illness, Crohn’s disease can be disruptive or even debilitating to a patient’s day to day living, and medical marijuana is an option that may provide some relief.

What is Crohn’s Disease

As previously mentioned, Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that is sometimes caused by genetics, an individual’s immune system, or environmental factors. It causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, commonly targeting the small intestine and colon, as well as affecting the thickness of the bowel wall.  

Crohn’s disease causes a variety of symptoms, and they can vary in commonality and severity from patient to patient. The most common symptoms are persistent diarrhea, constipation and bowel obstruction, rectal bleeding and/or bloody stool, abdominal cramps and pain, vomiting,  and fevers. Some of the common complications from Crohn’s disease are lack of appetite and weight loss, mouth sores, fatigue, and inflammation of eyes, joints, and skin. Crohn’s disease can also cause severe complications like malnutrition, ulcers, fistulas, and fissures, as well as a possible increased risk of colon cancer (if the disease is affecting the patient’s colon).

Fortunately, there are a number of treatments available for patients with Crohn’s disease, medical marijuana being one of them.

How Medical Marijuana Can Help

There are currently ongoing studies on medical marijuana in relation to how it helps people with Crohn’s disease. So far, it appears that medical marijuana can best help people with Crohn’s disease by assisting in managing their symptoms. With this in mind, there is a lot to consider in which product may be best for you in treating these symptoms. 

Certain terpenes may be ideal for patients to consider when deciding on which strains they want to use in treatment. Terpinolene, though known for its antibacterial qualities, can also potentially be a digestive aid, which can help manage both constipation and diarrhea. Similarly, both myrcene and caryophyllene are heavy hitters in pain-relief and anti-inflammatory properties. These pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory qualities can potentially help relieve cramps and abdominal pain, as well as possibly reducing inflammation of the small intestine, and therefore ideally regulating digestion. Myrcene is also a sedative, which can be very helpful for patients who are experiencing fatigue as a side effect of their Crohn’s disease to find help sleeping but alternatively can increase feelings of sleepiness (depending on the strain) if taken during the day. Other terpenes to look for are linalool, for its pain-relieving qualities, bisabolol for its anti-inflammatory properties, and humulene, which can be good for both pain relief and anti-inflammation. Humulene, however, can also be an appetite suppressant, which may not be ideal for patients who are concerned about their lack of appetite. 

As far as cannabinoids go, THC is a great pain reliever and can stimulate appetite, which can be great for patients with Crohn’s. Similarly, CBD has an ability to reduce inflammation, as well as being an immune modulator that can help balance the gut’s endocannabinoid system. It is also important to note, that when THC and CBD are both present in a strain, they act synergistically (known as the entourage effect), and in doing so, they boost each other’s medical potential. This form of treatment can be more effective for patients with Crohn’s disease. Along with THC and CBD, CBG (cannabigerol) has shown to be effective in decreasing the inflammation characteristics associated with IBD and Crohn’s disease, as well as being a digestive aid. 

With all of this in mind, and all of the different combinations of terpenes and cannabinoids, there are a lot of different strains, forms of cannabis and extractions that can provide a number of options for patients with Crohn’s disease. While there aren’t any conclusive results in studies on using medical marijuana to treat Crohn’s, many patients have still been able to find relief from the symptoms of their Crohn’s disease through medical marijuana. Relieving these symptoms and helping you live a life that isn’t in anyway debilitated by Crohn’s disease is what’s important, and medical marijuana has the potential to do so.

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Katie

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