Crohn’s Disease and CBD

Overview

Crohn’s disease is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) that can affect any area of the gastrointestinal tract, from the anus up to the mouth. However, it most commonly affects the lower part of the small bowel (ileum).

The condition causes inflammation within the digestive system. The areas affected can often be patchy, with sections of the normal gut in between. An inflamed patch can range in size, from a few centimetres through to a large section of the gut. It may also affect the lining of the bowel and develop deeper into the bowel wall.

Another inflammatory bowel disease similar to Crohn’s disease is ulcerative colitis. The main differences between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are that Crohn’s disease inflammation can affect any part of the digestive tract and extend into the muscle wall, whereas ulcerative colitis only occurs in the surface of the colon lining.

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What causes Crohn’s Disease?

The exact cause of Crohn’s disease isn’t known. However, it’s thought that one agent or a combination of agents can trigger the body’s immune system to produce an inflammatory reaction in the intestinal tract.

These triggers can include:

  • – Bacteria
  • – Viruses
  • – Antigens

More recent studies on inflammatory bowel disease show that a combination of hereditary, genetic, and/or environmental factors may result in the development of Crohn’s disease.

Another explanation is that it could be that the body’s own tissue causing an autoimmune response. Whatever causes it, if the reaction continues without control and damages the intestinal wall, this can lead to a number of symptoms that can be hard to live with.

Signs and Symptoms

Without treatment, symptoms of Crohn’s disease can be constant or may come and go every few weeks or months.
Common sign and symptoms include:

  • – Diarrhoea
  • – Fever
  • – Fatigue (tiredness)
  • – Abdominal pain and cramping
  • – Blood in faeces
  • – Mouth sores
  • – Reduced appetite
  • – Weight loss
  • – Pain near or around the anus
  • – Leaking fluid from anus

 

For people suffering from a more severe form of Crohn’s disease may also experience:

  • – Inflammation of skin, eyes and joints
  • – Inflammation of the liver or bile ducts
  • – Delayed growth or sexual development, in children
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Crohn’s Disease Treatment

As Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition, this means that it is ongoing and a life-long condition.

People that suffer from Crohn’s will often find that they can have periods of good health known as ‘remission’. There will also be times when symptoms are more active; this is a ‘relapse’ or a ‘flare-up’.

The main goal of treatment for Crohn’s is to reduce the inflammation that triggers the signs and symptoms. In some cases, treatment may lead not only to symptom relief but also to long-term remission and reduced risks of complications. Crohn’s treatment usually involves either drug therapy or surgery.

Treatment can include one or a combination of the following:

  • – Immune system suppressors
  • – Antibiotics
  • – Anti-diarrheal medications
  • – Pain Reliever
  • – Calcium and Vitamin D supplements
  • – Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • – Iron Supplements
  • – Surgery
  • – Clinical Trials

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Although IBS has a similar name, it’s important to note that Inflammatory Bowel Disease isn’t the same as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a common condition that causes symptoms such as:

  • – Bloating
  • – Stomach pain
  • – Constipation
  • – Diarrhoea

The other type of inflammatory bowel disease is ulcerative colitis.

CBD Oil for Crohn’s disease

Many sufferers of Crohn’s disease have turned their heads towards medical cannabis or CBD Oil in order to relieve symptoms and make the condition more manageable.Currently, there’s a limited amount of solid research on Cannabis for Crohn’s disease. As a result, we are unable to make any medical claims about cannabis whatsoever, only describe it as a ‘food supplement’.However, in order to understand how Cannabis can help Crohn’s, it’s important to understand how Cannabis oil works for the body as a whole.

The Endocannabinoid system (ECS)

The human body has its own system for creating and processing its own cannabinoids. This system is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)

The ECS helps to fine-tune most of our vital physiological functions. Simply, the ECS helps to regulate and harmonise all the major body systems making sure all or vital organs work well with one another. The ECS involves functions like appetite, pain modulation, digestion, reproduction, motor learning, stress and memory.

A good way to explain ECS is that if you imagine the body like a machine, each system works together to keep the machine moving. The immune system is a like a filtration system, the brain is like the motherboard, and endocannabinoids help to maintain these systems.

As with any machine, whether it be a result of poor maintenance, damage, or natural ageing our body parts and systems can deteriorate and malfunction. When this happens, it affects the entire body and can lead to various health problems.

CBD and the Endocannabinoid System

One thing many people don’t know is that our bodies naturally produce its own cannabinoids; these are endocannabinoids (endo meaning ‘inside’). As with any other nutrient, sometimes we can become a little deficient and need some extra help.

This is where cannabis can help, as the cannabis plant also produces cannabinoids, these are phytocannabinoids (Phyto meaning ‘plant’). These phytocannabinoids interact and aid/ restore the endocannabinoid system in our bodies.

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How can CBD oil help with Crohn’s disease?

Various research has revealed that small doses of natural cannabinoids help support the ECS and enhance its signalling. This suggests that small, regular doses of naturally occurring cannabinoids from hemp and other plants might act as a tonic to our most central physiologic healing system.

The cannabis plant has been commonly used in a variety of ways for thousands of years for a wide range of ailments and conditions worldwide. In more recent times, cannabis and its derivatives are now receiving more research as a potential therapy for Crohn’s disease

Research on the effects of cannabis for Crohn’s suggest that CBD oil works to ultimately:

  • – Balance the immune system
  • – Calm/ reduce inflammation
  • – Support healthy neurological function
  • – Promote mood support
  • – Reduce Pain

*One study on cannabis and IBD stated: “studies show different levels of elements of the ECS in murine and human IBD models. Further delineation of mechanism of action is needed to determine whether these results are pathologic or reactive effects to inflammation. However, cannabinoids appear to have a clear role in gut pathology and offer a potential target for drug intervention in the treatment of IBD.” (NCBI: Therapeutic Use of Cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease).

Medical Studies