Medical Marijuana and Crohn’s Disease
Anyone who has ever suffered from this inflammatory bowel disease will tell you how excruciatingly painful it can be. This disease affects millions of people across the globe and it is characterized by inflammation of the digestive tract. The result is nausea, vomiting, more than the usual number of bowel movements, bad stomach pains among other discomforts.
While medication exists to combat the disease, most of it does more harm than good. This is where medical cannabis wins where medication fails. Besides alleviating the inflammation that is inherent to the disease, it can also reduce most of the painful systems that aggravate it.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Before understanding how medical marijuana can alleviate this disease, we need to understand how Crohn’s Disease actually works. Unlike other types of Irritable Bowel Syndromes, Crohn’s Disease affects the entire digestive tract and can penetrate deep into the tissue. It is usually caused when the immune system stops working as it should and starts attacking healthy tissue in the tract.
This leads to painful inflammation and a lack of healthy tissue. The cause of this is unclear but most researchers believe that environmental and genetic factors are to blame. Both can trigger a bacterial imbalance in the gut which can result in the disease.
No two patients of Crohn’s Disease are the same since their symptoms might be entirely different. I depends on how severe the disease is but some of the common symptoms they can experience include:
- Painful bowel movements
- Rapid weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Severe abdominal pain
Some patients who suffer from this disease may also report symptoms that are akin to the flu such as a high fever and excessive sweating. In case of a severe infection, patients can also suffer flare-ups.
What makes the disease unique from other IBDs is that it leads to patchy inflammation across the entire digestive tract. The result is the formation of thick ulcers along the walls of the intestines which can make digestion impossible thus the painful bowel movements. In severe cases, the ulcers can get big enough to burst through the walls of the intestine leading to life-threatening circumstances.
Most of the aforementioned symptoms are triggered by the inflammation that is part and parcel of this disease. The effects can lead to a number of long and short term health issues if the inflammation is not controlled in a timely manner. Since the disease keeps attacking the gut, the treatment should also be continuous.
How medical cannabis helps
Most researchers believe that medical cannabis can help reduce that inflammation and bring patients of Crohn’s Disease some much needed relief. Certain compounds in the plant called cannabinoids can reduce the inflammation and prevent the immune system from releasing proteins that can re-trigger this. It does this by release anti-inflammatory compounds that can work against those proteins.
Cannabis is capable of this healing effect since it engages directly with our endocannabinoid system or ECS. These contain cell receptors along with their molecules and the proteins that break them down. These receptors are present through the intestinal tract and in the immune cells that our immune system depends on to function.
Patients who suffer from Crohn’s Disease usually have lower levels of endocannabinoids which is the body’s natural THC. In addition, in certain cases, some of those receptors work overtime which is the intestinal tract signaling that it needs more cannabinoids.
Here is how medical cannabis benefits those who suffer from Crohn’s Disease:
- It reduces the need for surgery significantly by reducing inflammation.
- Reduces the need for steroids.
- Reduces the number of bowel movements that can lead to malnourishment.
- Reduces the need for medication that treat the immune system.
- Helps patients gain weight as it stimulates the appetite.
- Decreases number of flare-ups thus allowing the digestive tract to heal.
- Improves appetite and decreases nausea.
- Can eliminate remission of the disease by eliminating cramping, nausea, pain and inflammation together.
- Medical marijuana can be used as a substitute for opiates for Crohn’s. Since it is not addictive, it can be used as a suitable and healthier alternative.
- The intestinal tract comprises of CB1 and CB2 receptors which respond well to medical cannabis leading to healing.
- Cannabinoids work to prevent inflammation in the colon which leads to a healthier bowel movement.
- Cannabinoids reduce bowel mucus which can otherwise cause inflammation.
- Cannabis based medication is very low in toxicity compared to traditional medication meant to treat Crohn’s Disease
Popular marijuana strains for Crohn’s Disease
Medicine Man – This strain of cannabis is known for its high number of cannabinoids and the powerful Indica effect it induces when consumed. The result is a euphoric feeling which leaves consumers feeling happy and content but only if they are experienced users. The first dose might be a bit too much for inexperienced users and the sedating effects can be quite powerful.
Willie Nelson – This strain of marijuana is named after the singer Garth Brooks and it is pure Sativa. The effects of this strain include a focused feeling and a sense of euphoria. Willie Nelson is typically used to treat depression and anxiety besides Crohn’s Disease.
Bubble Gum – This strain of medical marijuana is known to give a slight high that relaxes and induces a happy feeling. The effect is owed to the Indica strain which is dominant and which is known for increasing focus. Besides treating Crohn’s Disease, this strain is known to help people suffering from eating disorders and chronic nausea. By alleviating those symptoms, this marijuana strain brings down inflammation in the bowel leading to relief.
The bottom line is that medical marijuana is a miracle in the medical field which has to have its day in the sun. It is miraculous in the way it treats Crohn’s Disease and brings relief to so many suffering from this debilitating condition.
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