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Medical Marijuana and Colitis

What Is Colitis?

Colitis is simply swelling/inflammation of the colon. It has a number of possible causes, so it is essentially a symptom rather than an illness, though it causes distinct symptoms of its own. It can also be considered an illness if it is chronic and there is no known underlying cause. The causes of colitis include virus, bacteria, food poisoning and certain digestive disorders like Crohn's disease. It can also happen when the colon's blood supply is hindered or cut off completely. The types of colitis are characterized by their cause and result. For example, necrotizing enterocolitis results in parts of the intestine dying. What causes it is unclear.  Treatment of colitis must target the cause of the infection as infection or disease will need different treatment than lack of blood flow. Therefore, it cannot be said that medical marijuana is a treatment for all types of colitis as it is not an antibiotic nor can it restore blood flow after intestinal trauma. However, palliative treatment is sometimes also indicated. This is where medical marijuana can come in handy for patients suffering from colitis. In conjunction with curative, preventative and/or alleviative care, medical marijuana can help reduce pain in those with painful colitis. There is also some evidence that it can relieve the condition itself in some types of colitis.

Medical Marijuana and Colitis

Medical Marijuana and Colitis Symptoms

There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana can relieve the pain and discomfort caused by colitis, particularly ulcerative colitis and Crohn's Disease. There is also medical and anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana can treat nausea. It is used extensively in the United States to treat nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy and in patients with AIDS. It is not approved by the federal government for use in other cases of nausea, but research suggests that it can help. Furthermore, it is prescribed by doctors in some states where medical marijuana is legal for nausea caused by numerous conditions, not just AIDS and chemotherapy illness. 

Evidence for Medical Marijuana as Treatment for Colitis and its Symptoms 

Not all causes of colitis can be treated with marijuana. However, some research suggests that colitis that occurs with inflammatory bowel disease can be alleviated with medical marijuana. According to George Kunos and Pal Pacher of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institutes of Health, cannabinoids can prevent abnormal movement in the large intestine. It can also prevent secretion and reduce inflammation, according to their research into cannabinoid testing. 

As for the pain associated with colitis, there is ever-increasing evidence that medical marijuana is a mild to moderate pain reliever in itself. There is also evidence that it can work in conjunction with opiates to relieve chronic pain while lowering the opiate dose necessary to relieve that pain. According to a study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, when the patients in their study used medical marijuana with their prescribed opiates, they needed less opiates in their bloodstream to produce the same pain relieving effect achieved with more opiates sans medical marijuana. Other research has shown that a moderate dose of medical marijuana can alleviate induced pain. 

When it comes to nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and weight loss, the evidence that medical marijuana can treat these symptoms is staggering. These symptoms are some of the rare few for which the federal government of the United States has allowed medical marijuana treatment. As mentioned above, it is only allowed for specific conditions. However, there is no indication that it does not work for other conditions. In fact, the evidence shows quite the opposite. Increased hunger and nausea alleviation are among the best-documented uses for medical marijuana.

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