In the US, over 1.5 million people are affected by various gut disorders.
Crohn’s Disease is a chronic condition that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, while ulcerative colitis is restricted to the colon. Both of these diseases cause inflammation and a varying amount of pain and discomfort for the patient. Some common symptoms are rectal bleeding, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramps.
There is no cure for either of these inflammatory bowel diseases, and the symptoms can be so severe that patients may need to rely upon strong anti-inflammatory compounds, corticosteroids, immunomodulators, and other pharmaceuticals to find relief.
In recent years, many patients suffering from these diseases have been turning to medical cannabis to improve their quality of life. It is often said that a lack of research into the benefits of CBD and THC should cause patients to be wary of the hype around cannabis cures. However, in the case of using phytocannabinoids in the treatment of IBS, there is plenty of research to suggest it can be a safe and effective option.
Both THC and CBD are potent anti-inflammatories. CBD may help to protect the gastrointestinal tract from further inflammation and can allow the bowels to move smoother and easier. A 2011 Israeli study conducted on 30 patients with IBS noted that 21 of the participants showed significant improvements after being treated with cannabis.
An extensive 2016 report was also published in Gastroenterology & Hepatology, an independent peer-reviewed journal. Among the many findings, the article states that cannabis use helped to relieve many of the symptoms associated with IBS and that it improved appetite, and overall mood as well as a reduction in pain and nausea. Further, the article acknowledges that the current pharmaceutical treatments carry some risks of side effects like malignancy and infection. Given these risks, the report calls for more controlled trials of cannabis use for IBS.