CBD and Crohn’s
CBD and Crohn's Disease: Symptom Relief
I'm writing this blog post for my lovely Grandmother Rose. Even though she passed a few years ago, I'm sure she had undiagnosed IBD. As she aged, she became afraid to leave the house. And when we did get to go out to restaurants, we had to pick a table very close to the restroom. It saddens me to think of how she suffered, especially in last years before I was educated enough to help her with nutrition, stress management and introduce CBD to her. Maybe she is inspiring me from above and beyond. Hello Grandma! I miss you!
Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus. Signs and symptoms often include abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is severe), fever, and weight loss.
Crohn’s disease is so debilitating and life-threatening and so difficult to manage with conventional medications it is
very encouraging to find that cannabis is proving to be an effective treatment for it right now.
An Ancient Remedy
In ancient medicine, Cannabis was widely used to cure disturbances and inflammation of the bowel. The cannabis plant originated in central Asia, where people first discovered it at least 12,000 years ago, during the early days of agriculture. Initially, they would use cannabis by eating the nutritious seeds and creating rope and textiles from the hemp stalks. However, the first written record of medical cannabis use in China was nearly 5,000 years ago.
Studies Are Showing Benefits
Reports from cannabis users that the plant reduces the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Now clinical studies are showing that endocannabinoids help control and prevent intestinal inflammation.
A recent clinical study now shows that the medicinal plant Cannabis sativa has kept its expectancies proving to be highly efficient in cases of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Researchers have shown that Cannabis produces significant clinical benefits in patients with Crohn’s disease. The study showed that cannabinoids may provide anti-inflammatory effects and symptomatic benefits!
THC and CBD
For thousands of years, people have been cultivating numerous strains of the cannabis plant with different purposes in mind. When the plant is cultivated to grow tall and strong with thick fibrous stalks and a very small amount of cannabinoids (the active compounds in the plant), it's called hemp; people mostly use hemp seeds for food and its fibers for industrial purposes.
When bred to have lush leaves and flowers that are high in cannabinoids, cannabis is used for medicinal or recreational purposes. Plant breeders have created innumerable different strains of cannabis, each of which has a different combination of cannabinoids, with variable potency results. Two common cannabinoids have been the subject of most research for IBD:
- Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most recognized cannabinoid, is associated with reduced nausea and pain, increased appetite (the munchies), and psychological effects such as relaxation, euphoria, and altered sensory perception, which are responsible for making users feel high or intoxicated. THC is also associated with negative psychological effects, such as irritability, anxiousness, and paranoia.
- Cannabidiol (CBD) does not produce intoxicating effects (non-psychotropic) but it is responsible for the sedative effects sometimes experienced when smoking or ingesting cannabis. CBD is associated with reduced convulsions, nausea, and inflammation. CBD lessens some of the negative symptoms associated with THC. (Note: Hemp has less than 0.3% THC (the psychoactive form that gets people "high") but is high in other rich cannabinoids, CBD being one of the major ones.)
Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System
Cannabinoids work by interacting with a complex system in the body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Our bodies naturally produce a family of neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids, which interact with receptors located in the brain, muscles, fat, and digestive tract. These receptors are called cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2).
Scientists only recently found evidence of the ECS when they discovered CB1 in 1988, so research is still ongoing into exactly how it functions. We are finding that our ECS helps our bodies regulate pain, mood, appetite, gastrointestinal motility, memory, emotions, stress response, immune function, and more.
When a person ingests, inhales or applies cannabis topically, the plant-based cannabinoids in cannabis, which are similar molecular shapes to endocannabinoids, fit into the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our body. This triggers reactions that result in either very high or very low levels of specific neurotransmitters, which the cells of the nervous system, as well as other systems in the body, use to communicate with each other.
ECS and Gut Health
ECS plays a significant role in gut health, particularly, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Researchers are discovering that our gastrointestinal system is affected by changes in inflammatory responses from our ECS.
Our bodies naturally make endocannabinoids, however many people suffer with endocannabinoid deficiency. Research shows that levels of anandamide, a endocannabinoid already present in our body, is much lower in the inflamed gut mucosa of those with IBD than in healthy gut tissue. Early research on the effects of cannabis on IBD is quite promising!
Another study in Israel asked 30 patients with Crohn’s disease about their disease severity before and after using cannabis and found great improvements. They found that 70% of the patients experienced a decrease in Crohn’s disease symptom severity when using cannabis, and that many were able to reduce or eliminate the medications that they were using. For example, before using cannabis, each individual took some sort of prescription medication to treat their disease. When using cannabis, nine individuals were able to cease all prescription medication use. They also reported a drop in daily bowel movements from eight to five per person, as well as a slight decrease in the number of surgeries required.
In other studies, individuals experienced significant improvement in pain, health perception, depression, social functioning, and ability to work. They also had an average weight gain of 4.3 kg over the three months (a health improvement), and a reduction in average number of daily liquid stools from 5.54 to 3.18.
These researchers support the idea that the benefits were the result of cannabinoids having anti-inflammatory, anti-motility, and analgesic effects. With only 13 participants, this study is too small to come to generalizations about most people, but it does show that cannabis might be effective for some individuals with IBD.
At this point, much research shows a possible benefit for individuals with IBD taking cannabis. It might be limited only to pain relief and increased appetite, but it might also help by reducing inflammation. Very promising!
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Cannabinoid Education Sessions
CBD is popular for many reasons. The research is promising for common ailments like inflammation and anxiety, one CBD drug is approved by the FDA, and when it’s found in hemp it’s legal across all 50 states.
If you would like to learn more about hemp-derived CBD, how to get started, clinical contraindications and my top-rated products meeting all of the strictest criteria, schedule a Cannabinoid Education Session. This is a health coaching session that will help you decide what is right for you. If you are in the Seattle area, I do stock CBD products that you can purchase off the shelf. In this session, you will:
- get support and assistance with cannabinoid product selection
- learn anecdotes and the experience of other clients
- learn the risks and benefits of administration methods
- obtain instruction on proper use
- learn how the endocannabinoid system works
- learn the contraindications for phytocannabinoids
- develop a plan for and monitoring of consumption
- obtain preferred client pricing for a range of CBD products
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