Crohn’s Disease and CBD Oil


What is Crohn's Disease?

Crohn’s disease is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) that can affect any area of the gastrointestinal tract, from the anus up to the mouth. However, it most commonly affects the lower part of the small bowel (ileum). 

The condition causes inflammation within the digestive system. The areas affected can often be patchy, with sections of normal gut in between. An inflamed patch can range in size, from a few centimetres through to a large section of the gut. It may also affect the lining of the bowel and develop deeper into the bowel wall. 

Crohn's Disease vs Ulcerative Colitis

Another inflammatory bowel disease similar to Crohn’s disease is ulcerative colitis. The main differences between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis is 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 Crohn’s Disease?

The exact cause of Crohn’s disease isn’t known. However, it’s thought 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:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Antigens

More recent studies on inflammatory bowel disease show that a combination of hereditary, genetic, and/or environmental factors may result in the development of Crohn’s disease.

Another explanation is that it could be that the body's own tissue causing an autoimmune response. Whatever causes it, if the reaction continues without control and damages the intestinal wall, this can lead to a number of symptoms that can be hard to live with.

Signs and Symptoms

Without treatment, symptoms of Crohn's disease can be constant or may come and go every few weeks or months.

Common sign and symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Blood in faeces
  • Mouth sores
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Weight loss
  • Pain near or around the anus 
  • Leaking fluid from anus

Other signs and symptoms

For people suffering with a more severe form of Crohn's disease may also experience:

  • Inflammation of skin, eyes and joints
  • Inflammation of the liver or bile ducts
  • Delayed growth or sexual development, in children

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Treatment

As Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition, this means that it is ongoing and a life-long condition. 

People that suffer from Crohn’s 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 Crohn’s 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. Crohn’s 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

CBD Oil and Crohn’s disease

Many sufferers of Crohn’s disease have turned their heads towards medical cannabis or CBD Oil in order to relieve symptoms and make the condition more manageable.

Currently, there's limited amount of solid research on Cannabis for Crohn’s disease. 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 Crohn’s, it’s important to understand how Cannabis oil works for the body as a whole.

Related article: Main Benefits of CBD Oil

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

Each person has something called an endocannabinoid system (ECS), this system is responsible for keeping all of our bodily systems in balance with one another.

An example of how this works is that when our bodies detect a threat, they release stress chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline to help us stay alert, focused, and also to help us protect ourselves better.

Furthermore, our muscles can tense up to help us defend ourselves. We may also breathe faster and harder in order to pump oxygen through our bodies, and our heart rate rises. Once the threat is gone, your body has to rebalance itself and this is where the endocannabinoid system comes into play.

The ECS controls and regulates how quickly neurotransmitters are released. It slows them down or speeds them up as necessary in order to return to and maintain internal homeostasis after you’ve handled a threat.

The ECS is the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. It’s made up of receptors embedded all over your body. When cannabinoids stimulate the receptors, scientists believe our bodies communicate more effectively with themselves.

Our endocannabinoid systems promote homeostasis affecting everything from sleep, appetite, pain, inflammation, memory, mood, and even reproduction. To sum up, the ECS helps modulate the regulation of homeostasis across all major body systems ensuring that all systems work in sync with one another.

Related article: CBD vs CBN - what's the difference?

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and Disease

Studies on the ECS have found that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in many diseases. As the ECS helps bring balance to the body, it’s no surprise that scientists have observed changes in ECS activity in a number of diseases.

Everything from neurodegenerative disorders to rheumatoid arthritis and cancer have shown changes in endocannabinoid levels and greater receptor expression. This suggests that the ECS may be an effective target for restoring balance in the body and promoting good health.

Research into cannabis decades ago first led scientists to the discovery of the ECS. As a result of this initial research, it also led to its name ‘cannabinoid’.

CBD and the Endocannabinoid System

One thing many people don’t know is that our bodies naturally produce its own cannabinoids; these are endocannabinoids (endo meaning ‘inside’). As with any other nutrient, sometimes we can become a little deficient and need some extra help.

This is where cannabis can help, as the cannabis plant also produces cannabinoids, these are phytocannabinoids (Phyto meaning ‘plant’). These phytocannabinoids interact and aid/ restore the endocannabinoid system in our bodies.

Learn more about CBD and the Endocannabinoid system here.

How does CBD oil help with Crohn’s disease?

Various research has revealed that small doses of natural cannabinoids help support the ECS and enhance its signalling. This suggests that small, regular doses of naturally occurring cannabinoids from hemp and other plants 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 Crohn’s disease

Research on the effects of cannabis for Crohn’s suggest that CBD oil works to ultimately:

  • Balance the immune system
  • Calm/ reduce inflammation
  • Support healthy neurological function
  • Promote mood support
  • Reduce Pain

You can shop high quality CBD oil here.

*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).

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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.

Read next: CBD Oil vs Hemp Oil - what's the difference?

Studies

Therapeutic Use of Cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: :https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5193087/

Patient Stories

14 year old and Crohn’s disease: https://medium.com/@cfrei/the-benefits-of-hemp-oil-for-ibd-74cd27c12f84

Image by: https://www.freepik.com/vectors/infographic'>Infographic vector created by brgfx - www.freepik.com

Also see: Broad Spectrum vs Full Spectrum CBD