Crohn’s Disease and Colitis

What are Crohn’s Disease and Colitis?

Crohn’s disease is a chronic, lifelong, gastroenterological condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed. It’s a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects roughly 300,000 people in the UK. Although Crohn’s disease can affect people of all ages, the symptoms usually start in childhood or early adulthood.

Colitis is a chronic, gastroenterological condition where the colon and rectum become inflamed. Small ulcers can develop on the colon’s lining, where they often bleed and produce pus. It’s believed that one in every 420 people live with colitis in the UK.

Although the exact cause of Crohn’s Disease and Colitis is unknown, experts believe that several things can be linked to the conditions. These include:

  • Genetic predilection
  • Problems with the immune system that causes it to attack the digestive system
  • Smoking
  • A previous stomach bug
  • An abnormal balance of gut bacteria
  • An autoimmune condition
  • Genetic predilection
  • Environmental factors, such as exposure to certain bacteria, air pollution, medication, and certain diets

Some people claim that certain diets could contribute, but experts emphasise that there’s no evidence to suggest this is true.

During flare-ups, behavioural and lifestyle changes may also be necessary, such as eating plain, often liquid foods, resting a lot, and avoiding stressful or exerting situations. This can cause significant disruption to daily life and make it difficult to keep up with work, school, or other responsibilities.

How can medical cannabis help treat Crohn’s Disease and Colitis?

Researchers Timna Naftali, Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider, Iris Dotan, Ephraim Philip Lansky, Fabiana Sklerovsky Benjaminov, and Fred Meir Konikoff worked together on a study, ‘Cannabis induces a clinical response in patients with Crohn’s disease: a prospective placebo-controlled study’. They found that medical cannabis achieved complete remission in 45% of patients and reduction of symptoms in 90% of patients. 

On top of that, the use of medical cannabis was also shown to be useful in weaning patients off the use of steroids to manage symptoms, reducing the side effects from these stronger medications as well.

This study from 2016,’Therapeutic Use of Cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease’, researchers Waseem Ahmed and Seymour Katz found that the majority of patients with Colitis experienced relief from “symptoms of pain, nausea, and appetite” and that it helped “to improve their overall mood”.

As colitis is a form of IBD that presents many of the same symptoms, it stands to reason that medical cannabis will also prove useful for patients suffering from Colitis.

You can read more about treating Crohn’s Disease with medical cannabis here. There is also more information available on treating Colitis with medical cannabis here.