According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, nearly 60 to 70 million people in the United States are affected by digestive diseases. Digestive diseases can cause a range of symptoms including: diarrhea, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, constipation and more. One of the most common digestive diseases is Crohn's disease, which affects an estimated 3 million Americans.
What is Crohn's Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a persistent inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract and can sometimes cause life threatening complications. The following are some of the common conditions associated with Crohn’s:
Loss of appetite
Nausea and vomiting
Typical treatment options for gastrointestinal disorders include supplements, medications and lifestyle changes – such as regulating diet and avoiding specific foods. However, medical cannabis has become a promising treatment option for Crohn’s disease.
Benefits of Medical Marijuana for Crohn’s Disease
Crohn's disease is a result of inflammation, and both THC and CBD anti-inflammatory properties. Medical marijuana interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS’s main responsibility is to help balance and regulate various functions within the body, including: pain, GI motility, appetite and more. Cannabinoid receptors are found throughout nerves in the gut and when THC or CBD interacts with these receptors, it can help provide relief.
For example, CB1 receptors play a role in bridging the gap between the digestive system to the brain through the nervous system. CB2 receptors are typically scarce in a healthy gut.
When cannabis interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the digestive tract, it can help relieve spasms, improve motility and ease pain. Marijuana has also been shown to contain anti-inflammatory properties that can alleviate multiple symptoms at once and recent research has even suggested that cannabis can either enhance or suppress immune response.
As more research continues to develop in relation to gastrointestinal disorders and medical cannabis, more awareness around the disease and treatment will become available.