Ulcerative Colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), causes inflammation and ulceration of the inner lining of the rectum and colon (the large bowel).
There are two types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. However, while these two diseases have similarities, they are not the same condition.
The main differences between ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease 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.
What causes Ulcerative Colitis?
The cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown. However, it’s believed 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:
- – Viruses
- – Antigens
- – Bacteria
Signs and symptoms
The severity of the symptoms will vary depending on how much inflammation is in the rectum and colon and how severe it is. For some people, the condition can have a significant impact on their everyday lives.
- The main symptoms of ulcerative colitis are:
- – Recurring diarrhoea
- – Blood, mucus or pus in faeces
- – Abdominal pain and cramps
- – Emptying the bowels frequently
- – Fatigue (tiredness)
- – Loss of appetite
- – Weight loss
Occasionally other symptoms can occur. These may include reddening of the eyes, joint pain, skin lesions, loss of appetite, irritability and depression.
Studies on inflammatory bowel disease have also highlighted that a combination of hereditary, genetic, and/or environmental factors may also result in the development of ulcerative colitis. Another explanation is that the body’s own tissue is causing an autoimmune response.
It’s important to get the inflammation under control as it can cause damage to the intestinal wall. This can then lead to a number of symptoms that can be harder to live with and manage.
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Ulcerative Colitis Treatment
As this is a chronic condition, it means that it is ongoing and a life-long condition.
People that suffer from ulcerative colitis 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 ulcerative colitis 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. 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. (Links to page)
CBD Oil for Ulcerative Colitis
Sufferers of ulcerative colitis have started turning their heads towards medical cannabis or CBD Oil in order to relieve the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and make the condition more manageable. Currently, there’s a limited amount of solid research on Cannabis for ulcerative colitis. 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 ulcerative colitis, 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.
How can CBD oil help with ulcerative colitis?
Various research has revealed that small doses of natural cannabinoids help support the endocannabinoid system and enhance its signalling. This suggests that small, regular doses of naturally occurring cannabinoids 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 ulcerative colitis disease.
Research on the effects of cannabis for ulcerative colitis 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).