INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE
WHAT IS INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE?
IBD is described as a group of disorders that cause inflammation of the intestines. Although it was previously considered an autoimmune disease, research now suggests that it’s not your immune system attacking your body that causes the chronic inflammation, but rather it’s your immune system attacking bacteria, viruses or food in your gut that causes inflammation leading to bowel injury.
There are two main types of IBD. These are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Crohn’s disease involves any area of your gastrointestinal tract, from your mouth to your anus.
- Ulcerative colitis is limited to your large intestine or colon. It affects your colon or the last section of your small intestine, or sometimes both.
SYMPTOMS OF INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE
Typically, the instance of IBD depends on what part of your intestinal tract is involved. The IBD symptoms you experience mimic many other conditions. They include:
- Weight loss
- Abdominal cramping
- Fatigue and malaise
- Irregular bowel habits
- Fever, sweats
- Passage of mucus without pus or blood
- Failed or delayed sexual maturation in children
- Growth retardation
- Grossly bloody stools, sometimes with cramping rectal pain (in UC typically)
- Extraintestinal manifestations: uveitis, arthritis or liver disease
- Perianal disease (i.e. abscesses, fistulas)
HOW MEDICAL MARIJUANA HELPS WITH INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE
Although there have only been a few high-quality studies that researchers have conducted for marijuana and inflammatory bowel disease and its impact on patients, there is compelling evidence on its safety and effectiveness as an IBD treatment.
To further understand why medical pot is beneficial for patients with inflammatory bowel disease, it’s useful for you to have knowledge of your endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system helps your body regulate:
- Immune function
- Gastrointestinal (GI) motility
- Stress response
Your ECS is a complex combination of endocannabinoids. These are the cannabinoids that your body naturally produces.These endocannabinoids stimulate the cannabinoid receptors of your body, which are located in various areas of your body like your GI tract, brain, fat and muscles.
The use of medical marijuana is directly associated with a reduction in Crohn’s disease activity and the lessening of symptoms related to other gastrointestinal conditions. IBD patients have been found to have higher levels of cannabinoid receptors in their colonic tissues. Due to this, patients who suffer from this condition and choose to use this alternative treatment method are usually presented with the reducing of symptoms and alleviating any inflammation in the body. Intestinal inflammation is directly affected and lessens in a timely manner.
When you ingest THC and CBD, they fit into these same receptors, since they’re similar to endocannabinoids. They trigger reactions that lead to either very low or high levels of specific molecules that your cells of your brain use to communicate to each other (neurotransmitters).
If you’re interested in trying medical marijuana to ease your IBD symptoms, continue taking your current medication, but consult with your doctor about the benefits (and risks) of medical marijuana for inflammatory bowel disease for your unique situation.