Medical Cannabis for Crohn’s Disease04 November 2022
Enjoy this article by Lyphe and speak to a patient coordinator if you wish to learn more about ways to get a medical cannabis prescription for Crohn’s disease in the UK.
- Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder and is one of the most common forms of IBD. The disease causes inflammation in the digestive tract.
- Medical cannabis is a term to describe cannabis and cannabinoids prescribed by physicians for patients to assist with numerous symptoms.
- Certain cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, are argued to enhance the impact of Crohn’s disease by helping to reduce inflammation and tissue damage.
- While studies into Crohn’s disease and medical cannabis are still in their early stages, the evidence so far demonstrates promise.
- It is critical that you seek out professional help when considering using medical cannabis. Book a consultation call with Lyphe, the biggest clinic in the UK and Jersey that specialises in medical cannabis treatment.
What is Crohn’s Disease (IBD)?
Inflammatory bowel disease— or IBD — is an umbrella term for chronic inflammatory conditions. Crohn’s disease is one of the most common types of IBD. These conditions affect the digestive tract (including both the small and large intestines, stomach, oesophagus, and mouth). It is still unclear what causes IBD, although it is argued to be associated with genetic and environmental factors, such as antibiotics and infections, that cause the body’s immune system to incorrectly attack food and microorganisms in the gut, leading to inflammation within the digestive tract. Essentially, the immune system attacks itself, making Crohn’s an autoimmune disorder. Generally, IBD shifts between periods of relapse and remission. Scans, stool samples, and blood tests can all help to make a diagnosis of the disease.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease can vary depending on which part of the gut is affected and how severe it is. However, some of the most common symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Shaking or tremors
- Dry mouth
- Stomach pain
- Weight loss
- Heart palpitations and/or chest pain
- Certain patients may develop symptoms caused by complications of the disease, such as bowel leak and obstruction and irregular connections between the gut and itself or the gut and other organs.
- Certain patients may develop symptoms in other areas, such as eye inflammation, kidney stones, joint pain, and skin rashes.
To this day, there is no known cure for IBD, including for Crohn’s disease. Current treatments typically aim to subdue the immune system and decrease inflammation to help people remain in remission. However, many of these medications are associated with severe side effects, such as liver problems, non-melanoma skin cancers, and lymphoma. Medical cannabis is one popular alternative treatment option for IBD conditions such as Crohn’s disease. But, what is medical cannabis, and what does the evidence say about medical cannabis for Crohn’s?
What is Medical Cannabis?
Medical cannabis is a term to describe cannabis medicines prescribed by physicians for patients. It is used to assist with numerous symptoms caused by particular medical conditions. You can get an official prescription for medical cannabis at licensed medical cannabis practices. Medical cannabis has been considered a legal cannabis medication in the UK since 2018. However, it is illegal to smoke it, so it is provided in the form of a flower that can be vaped or an oil which is taken sublingually. The substance is grown, produced, and packaged under stringent conditions to qualify as a medical-grade product.
The cannabis plant is composed of over one hundred different compounds or cannabinoids. Two of the most well-known are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Different forms of medical cannabis will have varying levels of THC and CBD, depending on the symptoms it is being used for.
The Endocannabinoid System and IBD
To gain a clearer understanding of how medical cannabis is believed to help the body, and IBD specifically, it is important to have a basic knowledge of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a system that helps our bodies to regulate many components, including emotions, mood, memory, pain, appetite, gastrointestinal (GI) motility, inflammation, and immune function. It is a complicated combination of endocannabinoids (which our bodies produce organically) that stimulate cannabinoid receptors. These are found in numerous parts of the body, such as the muscles, the whole GI tract, and the brain. THC and CBD have similar molecular shapes to endocannabinoids, so when these cannabinoids are consumed, they fit into the same receptors and cause a range of effects on the mind and body. They can modulate physiological functions exactly as endocannabinoids do. This is significant because modern research is increasingly suggesting that the function (or lack thereof) of the ECS is related to the anatomy of IBD. Indeed, studies indicate that the ECS is a significant factor of inflammatory activity in IBD and that the use of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, can enhance the impact of the disease by helping to reduce tissue damage and inflammation.
What Are the Potential Side Effects of Cannabis?
Research into the long-term side effects of cannabis is limited, and much of it is of low quality or has conflicting results. However, there are several potential side effects that have been associated with cannabis use, including:
- Lack of concentration
- Increased appetite
- If used during breastfeeding or pregnancy, there may be an increased risk for foetuses and newborn babies.
- There is a misconception that cannabis can cause schizophrenia, but this has not been scientifically proven.
Using cannabis illegally is dangerous because you cannot guarantee it does not contain other and potentially ingredients, such as lead particles. Therefore, you should never buy cannabis illegally but should consult a medical cannabis clinic or specialist doctor to get it prescribed legally. This guarantees the safety of the product and a channel for you to voice any concerns or questions.
What Do the Studies Say About Medical Cannabis and Crohn’s Disease (IBD)?
More research is needed to have a more comprehensive view of the relationship between medical cannabis and Crohn’s disease. One main obstacle to drawing conclusions is that different studies use different varieties of cannabis in different forms. Plus, there are no objective measurements to illustrate improvements in symptoms. However, studies conducted so far show promise:
- In a 2011 observational study, researchers assessed 30 Crohn’s disease patients and cannabis use. The study found that all of the participants reported a positive effect on the severity of the disease, and 21 of these reported significant improvement in symptoms. Furthermore, the study found a reduction in medications needed to control symptoms of the disease. Many patients needed fewer prescription medications, and nine stopped using all other IBD medications altogether while using cannabis. The number of daily bowel movements also decreased for the patients.
- In a study released in 2013 on 11 patients with active Crohn’s disease, it was found that THC-rich cannabis produced significant steroid-free clinical benefits for 10 of the 11 patients. It concludes that further research is therefore warranted.
- Another recent study found that cannabis led to a decrease in disease activity, although there were some mild side effects noted, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and trouble concentrating. Cannabis oil was found to produce potentially significant increases in quality of life for Crohn’s patients.
- In 2019, a study was published that compared hundreds of cannabis users and non-users that had Crohn’s disease between 2012 and 2014. It concluded that cannabis users had a decreased likelihood of an intra-abdominal abscess or active fistulising disease, or needing a colectomy, parenteral nutrition, or blood product transfusion.
- In 2020, an overview was published on the use of cannabis-based treatment for Crohn’s disease. The report concedes that research is still in its preliminary stages but concludes that cannabis seems to have therapeutic potential for IBD.
The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s official stance on medical cannabis is that there is evidence that cannabis may assist with disease symptoms. Still, the use of it is limited by concerns regarding safety and side effects. Therefore, larger and more comprehensive studies are required to categorically conclude whether cannabis is a safe and viable treatment for Crohn’s disease, but the research so far shows much potential. It is important if you are considering using medical cannabis that you approach a medical cannabis clinic or specialist doctor, as the safety of the medical cannabis is assured, and professional assistance is available to advise and alleviate any concerns.
Book a Consultation Call About Medical Cannabis for Crohn’s
If you are considering using medical cannabis to assist with Crohn’s disease symptoms, it is imperative you seek out professional help. Laws in the UK are extremely strict regarding medical cannabis prescriptions, so it is crucial that you can substantiate whether you will be legally entitled to a medical ID card. To be eligible for medical cannabis treatment, you must have tried at least two other treatments that have failed to work. By consulting with an expert, they can help determine your individual situation, assess your options, and help decide if medical cannabis is feasible for your condition. Lyphe is the biggest clinic that specialises in medical cannabis treatment in the UK and Jersey. It has a team of doctors experienced in treating with medical cannabis, offers remote video appointments to remove the need for travel, and has patient coordinators to offer support every step of the way. The clinic aims to raise awareness of how medical cannabis can help with chronic diseases. Book a free consultation call with Lyphe today and see if medical cannabis is the right option for you.
Is Crohn’s disease considered a disability?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory and autoimmune condition. IBD is not officially viewed as a disability that can be registered in the UK with the government.
Does CBD help Crohn’s disease?
While more research is needed, the evidence so far indicates that cannabis, including CBD, may assist with the alleviation of Crohn’s symptoms.
What is the best treatment for Crohn’s disease?
While there is no cure for Crohn’s, there are numerous medications available. However, many are associated with severe side effects, which is why many people look to medical cannabis as an alternative option.
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