Collagenous Colitis


marijuana and collagenous colitis
Collagenous colitis is one primary type of microscopic colitis. Lymphocytic colitis is the other. Collagenous colitis symptoms may be sporadic and can vary in severity. Some symptoms can cause so much discomfort, they affect your quality of life. This is where medical marijuana and collagenous colitis treatment steps in.

What Is Collagenous Colitis?

Collagenous colitis (CC) impacts your large intestine. While it isn’t common, if you have the condition, it can cause episodes of stomach pain and watery diarrhea. Older adults tend to get it more than others, but the disease can affect children and younger adults. Women tend to develop CC more often than men.

Collagenous colitis is one form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which is a group of disorders causing either large or small intestine inflammation. CC is a form of microscopic colitis causing large intestine inflammation doctors can see through a microscope.

Your large intestine plays a significant role in your digestive gastrointestinal (GI) tract. A primary responsibility of your large intestine is to reabsorb electrolytes and water. With collagenous colitis, immune system inflammatory cells travel to your large intestine. They then cause inflammation and swelling. In rare cases, the cells may also go into your small intestine.

stomach inflammation

When there’s inflammation, as is the case with collagenous colitis, it can inhibit your large intestine from reabsorbing the amount of water it should, leading to stomach pain, diarrhea and other symptoms. Inflammation can also lead to a buildup of extra collagen, which is a supportive, stretchy substance, in your small intestine wall too, also contributing to your discomfort.

Symptoms of Collagenous Colitis

CC symptoms can be mild or severe, recurring from time to time. Common collagenous colitis symptoms are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chronic watery diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps

Other less common CC symptoms are:

  • Bloating
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Flatulence or gas
  • Incontinence
  • An urgency to go to the bathroom

Diarrhea may come on and go away over a period of weeks or months — even years. Some people receive a misdiagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) since they share similar symptoms.

Causes and Risk Factors of Collagenous Colitis

Experts are attempting to figure out what causes the large intestine inflammation resulting in CC. Some theories include it being caused by:

  1. Immune response: Some experts believe it has something to do with the GI tract triggering this irregular immune response — like pollen, bacteria or food, for example.
  2. Medications: In some people, taking certain medications could also trigger CC. These medications may include:
  • Acid reflux medications
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like naproxen, aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Diabetes medications
  • High cholesterol medications
  • Depression medications
  1. Bacteria: Bacteria could trigger CC in some individuals. After becoming sick from bacteria, you may have your first collagenous colitis episode. These bacteria could include Clostridium difficile or Campylobacter jejuni. These bacteria toxins could harm your large intestine’s inner surface, causing inflammation. Also, some experts suspect viruses contribute to CC.
  2. Foods: Certain foods could bring this disorder on in some individuals or make the symptoms worse. A couple of examples are milk products and caffeine.
  3. Underlying health conditions: Your risk for the condition also increases by having certain health problems like:
  1. Smoking: Smoking can increase your risk for the disorder since it interferes with the flow of blood your intestines require.
  2. Family History: If you have a family member with this disorder or IBS, your risk could be higher.

Bloody bowel movements or increased colon cancer risks aren’t associated with collagenous colitis.

Physical Effects of Collagenous Colitis

CC usually appears to have a completely benign clinical course responding well to limited treatment. In some occasions, certain extracolonic conditions may influence the course of treatment such as:

  • Arthritis, inflammation of the joints
  • Spondylitis, a type of inflammatory arthritis
  • Thyroiditis, inflammation of the thyroid
  • Pyoderma gangrenosum, types of skin conditions

Fatalities, although rare, and complications, sometimes severe, have been linked directly to colitis. You may develop toxic megacolon and toxic colitis. Small intestinal inflammatory conditions and concomitant gastric conditions, including more severe collagenous inflammatory disease and celiac disease, may occur as a result of collagenous colitis.

nsaids side effects

There’s also an association between using NSAIDs and colonic ulceration, while other types of IBS, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, might originate directly from CC.

Physicians have also seen colonic fractures, mucosal preformation and tears or submucosal “dissection,” possible from colonoscopic air insufflation and lymphoproliferative disease with this condition. Increased intraluminal pressures occurring during radiological colon imaging may also lead to similar changes. Neoplastic colon conditions might occur during CC, including neuroendocrine tumors and colon carcinoma.

Mental Effects of Collagenous Colitis

CC tends to resolve spontaneously, but many individuals with the condition do have recurrent symptoms. Those with an ongoing condition often also struggle with depression or anxiety. In this case, symptoms can include pain, fatigue, diarrhea, incontinence and other symptoms that can make a person feel down when having to deal with them on a daily basis.

Many individuals with a recurring or chronic condition become depressed. In fact, depression is quite common with chronic illness. Around one-third of individuals with a serious health disorder also experience depression symptoms.

The prevalence of anxiety is also high in people who have a condition with recurring symptoms, and, like depression, often remain untreated despite substantial adverse consequences on patients’ health. In the chronic disorder population, numerous clinical groups have provided recommendations for practices of screening depression.

Collagenous Colitis Statistics

Statistics about collagenous colitis according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) include:

  • CC prevalence rates reported are 42 per 100,000 individuals.
  • Incidence rates of CC in people with recurring diarrhea are around 10 percent to 20 percent.
  • Increasing age is a risk factor, and 75 percent of those with CC are over the age of 50.
  • Women have a greater risk of the condition with a 2.4 to one women to men ratio.

Collagenous Colitis History

The first description of collagenous colitis occurred in 1976 when a chronic diarrhea patient undergoing a rectal biopsy showed signs of a thick subepithelial collagenous deposit in their colorectal mucosa. Historically, it’s occurred in females of middle-age with a peak prevalence around the age of 60 through 70 years old. However, it’s described in all different age groups, children included.

Current Treatments Available for Collagenous Colitis and Their Side Effects

Sometimes collagenous colitis goes away by itself without treatment, but some individuals do require treatment. Your doctor will decide on the best course of treatment for you depending on how severe your symptoms are.

  1. Diet

Your physician may suggest you make a change to your diet. A diet change is typically the first plan of any course of treatment.

Some diet changes they may recommend may include:

  • Consume a low-fat diet
  • Avoid food containing artificial sweeteners
  • Eliminate lactose and caffeine
  • Switch to a diet free of milk
  • Eat a diet free of gluten
  • Prevent diarrhea-related dehydration by drinking more fluids

Usually, you won’t have any side effects from adjusting your diet, but you need be sure you’re getting adequate nutrition.

  1. Medication

Your doctor will go over any current medications you’re taking and make recommendations about whether or not you should continue or stop taking them. They may also prescribe you new medicines, such as the steroid Budesonide, for treating your condition.

Some medications (and their side effects) are listed below:

  • Anti-diarrheal medications: Side effects include nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness and constipation
  • Psyllium: side effects include difficulty swallowing or breathing, itching, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain
  • Antibiotics: Side effects include nausea, vomiting, headache, stomach pain and diarrhea
  • Intestinal anti-inflammatory medications: Side effects include nausea, stomach cramps, sore throat, gas and fever
  • Corticosteroids: Side effects include weight gain, diabetes, osteoporosis, skin thinning, cataracts and glaucoma
  • Immunomodulators: Side effects include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headaches and a sense of being under the weather
  • Medications that block bile acids: Side effects include abdominal pain, weight loss, vomiting, constipation, bloating, heartburn and flatulence
  1. Surgery

If medication and diet changes aren’t helping, your doctor might suggest surgery. Generally, surgery isn’t a standard treatment for collagenous colitis, so they’ll only recommend surgery in extreme cases.

A couple of types of surgery for CC are:

  • Colectomy: The surgeon removes part or all of your colon.
  • Ileostomy: After a colectomy, the surgeon creates an opening in your abdomen.

Surgery comes with risks of infection and complications.

Recent Developments in Collagenous Colitis

Currently, there isn’t any curative therapy for collagenous colitis. The goal of treatment is to bring about remission, three bowel movements a day or one watery bowel movement a day with improved quality of life following.

Before introducing Budesonide, which is now a commonly used steroid to treat collagenous colitis, selecting treatment depended hugely on the individual doctor’s experience based on observing data closely while guiding management through several randomized trials. Controlled trials already existing have been in further evaluating the effectiveness of Budesonide and other medications.

How and Why Marijuana Can Be an Effective Treatment for Collagenous Colitis

Cannabinoids help decrease intestinal inflammation. The non-psychotropic, safe ingredient of cannabis, cannabidiol, for example, provides pharmacological effects such as being an antioxidant and helping with an inflamed gut.

Research suggests the cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors play a role in regulating gastrointestinal inflammation in animal models with experimental colitis. Studies using THC indicated good results in TNBS-induced colitis.

marijuana gastrointestinal help

Cannabinoids tap into your ECS or endocannabinoid system in your gastrointestinal tract. Cannabis compounds cause biochemical gut changes. With CC, the changes are beneficial.

The cannabinoids in medical marijuana interact directly with the vagal nerve and regional immune cells. Medical weed has immunomodulatory properties and has an impact on messages sent between the brain and gut.

If you’re nauseous, inhaling cannabis blocks gut messages to your brain telling it you have to vomit. This is a why marijuana has such powerful anti-nausea properties. Research shows THC binds to the vagal nerve CB1 receptor, which alters brain-gut communication, leading to reduced nausea and vomiting and pain perception changes.

What Side Effects or Symptoms of Collagenous Colitis Can Medical Marijuana Treat?

Medical marijuana not only can help ease your anxiety and depression associated with having collagenous colitis, but it can also help with inflammation, nausea and pain.

  1. Inflammation: Cannabis helps treat inflammation, which prevails in collagenous colitis.
  2. Nausea: Yet another symptom medical marijuana tackles almost effortlessly. We’ve all had an upset stomach before. But some patients experience chronic and severe nausea that gets in the way of living a quality life.
  3. Pain: Research reveals cannabis can help people curb chronic pain.

Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Symptoms of Collagenous Colitis

Some overall good cannabis and collagenous colitis strains include:

  • Golden Pineapple (Hybrid)
  • Lemon Jack (Sativa)
  • Jean Guy (Hybrid)
  1. Inflammation

Because researchers know CBD effectively tackles inflammation, more CBD-rich cannabis strains are being made to fight extreme inflammation in individuals. Some good inflammation-fighting strains are:

  • Cannatonic (Hybrid)
  • God Bud (Indica)
  • Charlotte’s Web (Sativa)
  1. Nausea

Most all medical cannabis strains help treat nausea, however, some work better than others. Some of the most popular strains to treat nausea include:

  • Death Star (Indica)
  • Cheese (Hybrid)
  • Super Sour Diesel (Sativa)
  1. Pain

You’ll also find various strains of the medical pot plant to significantly reduce pain and discomfort significantly. Some include:

  • ACDC (Hybrid)
  • Blue Dream (Hybrid)
  • Granddaddy Purple (Indica)

Best Methods of Marijuana Treatment to Use to Treat Side Effects and Symptoms of Collagenous Colitis

Along with choosing the right marijuana for collagenous colitis strain to help treat your symptoms, you should also find the best method of delivery. Each delivery method provides a different effect and there are many factors to determine what consumption method is best for you.

  • Inhalation: Inhaling medical cannabis will give you the fastest results — perfect for when you’re feeling nauseous all of a sudden and need quick relief. But, smoking and vaporizing can release harmful toxins, although vaporizing doesn’t produce as much of these toxins as smoking. If you can wait a little bit for the effects to kick in, you might want to try a different method of delivery.
  • Tinctures: Try a tincture if you can hold off. They’re a classic method of medicating with cannabis. Tinctures are solutions of alcohol or glycerin infused with medical marijuana you place and absorb under your tongue. They do provide faster effects than edibles, but they’re not as quick as inhalation.
  • Topicals: Topicals might not be ideal if you’re trying to treat nausea since they only penetrate as deep as your skin. But patches can deliver treatment directly into your bloodstream. While you’ll have to wait for relief while the effect builds up, patches do provide you with an extended release. They’re also good for inflammation.
  • Edibles: Edibles may take over an hour for you to feel their effects and they’re extremely situation-specific. But if nausea is directly related to your stomach, edibles will go directly to the source.

eat edibles

Evaluate what your symptoms are and how they’re occurring to help you figure out what your body requires. You’ll still want to consult with a cannabis doctor or dispensary even if you think you have it under control. They can give you recommendations on different strains and methods of consumption and how they should affect you. They can also advise you on your next step if a particular strain or method doesn’t work properly.

Start the Medical Marijuana for Collagenous Colitis Relief Process

Now that you’ve obtained some information on marijuana and collagenous colitis and you’re interested in trying out this form of treatment, your next step is to find a qualified physician who can give you your medical cannabis recommendation letter. can connect you to a cannabis-certified doctor. Find a qualified cannabis doctor and browse our extensive list of cannabis dispensaries where you’ll shop for your medical pot products.

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