Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory condition related to the family of illnesses known as inflammatory bowel disease or IBD. Although associated with the entire gastrointestinal tract, it most often affects the small and large intestines. Symptoms are unpredictable; you may be completely asymptomatic one day, and then have a significant flareup the next, with no real warning. Some, unfortunately, experience symptoms almost continuously.
There is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease, although symptoms have typically been managed through medications, especially biologics.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease are varied, which sometimes makes it hard to associate them with the disease. These may include:
- Abdominal tenderness, pain, “full” feeling
- Fatigue, nausea, weight loss
- Diarrhea sometimes mixed with blood, rectal bleeding
- Fever and inflammation of the joints
- Inflammation of the eyes and mouth
Causes of Crohn’s Disease
Experts are not entirely sure why this condition manifests, although there are some determining factors that seem to be involved.
- Family history or genetics: Up to 20% of people who have Crohn’s disease also have a relative with the condition. In fact, the risk of getting Crohn’s is 10x higher if a close relative suffers from it. Several genes have been associated with Crohn’s. But not all individuals with these genes will develop the illness. There is some thought that ethnicity also plays a role, as Caucasians and those with Jewish lineage seem more at risk.
- Immunity Issues: Medical experts believe that when invading substances (antigens) are present in the intestines, the immune system attacks, which causes temporary inflammation. With Crohn’s, the attacks and inflammation continue long after the “invading substance” is dealt with – putting healthy tissue is under siege.
- Environmental factors: Crohn’s can be triggered by bacteria and microorganisms in the GI tract. Cigarette smoke and pollution are often present, and the condition is more prevalent in northern climates.
How Medical Cannabis Treats Crohn’s Disease and IBS
These illnesses are listed as qualifying conditions under Florida law, allowable for treatment with medical cannabis. How is marijuana helpful with these conditions?
First off, the current pharmaceutical medications that are used to treat Crohn’s cause serious side effects, such as headaches, fever, and dizziness.
* The leading cause of IBS symptoms is inflammation, a condition which cannabis is well suited to treat. Both CBD and THC present anti-inflammatory properties in the digestive tract, which can have a significant effect on the suffering of Crohn’s patients. Many Crohn’s patients have achieved full remission while using cannabis.
* Medical marijuana is a potent analgesic, used to reduce pain of all types by blocking pain receptors. Therefore cannabis can be used effectively to help with cramping and stomach pain.
* One of the most effective answers to nausea is medical marijuana, across a wide range of conditions. Cannabis soothes gastrointestinal flareups and, in most cases, will notably reduce nausea. It is also useful in stimulating the appetite in someone usually plagued with stomach issues.
* When a person is dealing with unpredictable symptoms, especially those which can make it challenging to be out in public, stress and anxiety can be the result. Medical cannabis helps to reduce these feelings in Crohn’s patients, allowing them to relax and enjoy a healthier life.
If you have Crohn’s disease and are dissatisfied with the results of your medications, perhaps it is time to consider medical cannabis. Call Dr. Daniel P. Stein of Neurology of Cannabis for a consultation and to learn more about how you may be able to finally gain relief from your symptoms.