Updated on August 27, 2018.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
More and more states are allowing patients to seek medical marijuana treatments for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like Crohn’s disease. Not only does cannabis treat the cause, gastrointestinal inflammation, but it also targets some of the condition’s most painful symptoms.
If you’re ready to start medicating with medical marijuana, we can help you find strains that target Crohn’s symptoms.
Symptoms Caused by Crohn’s Disease
Before choosing a medical marijuana strain, you need to decide which symptoms of Crohn’s you’d like to treat. Although cannabis can treat many different side effects of the disease, strains are usually designed to target a specific symptom.
Crohn’s disease is caused by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. This directly affects the body’s digestive system. Patients can go through times where symptoms appear to be more severe, called flare-ups. At other times, symptoms will appear to subside and even disappear, or go into remission. Patients shouldn’t think just because their condition is in remission that it’s entirely gone — there’s still no cure for Crohn’s disease.
Common side effects caused by Crohn’s include:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea, with or without blood
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Depression and anxiety
Cannabis Strains to Treat Crohn’s Disease
It’s important for patients to manage their symptoms so they don’t develop more serious complications. Medical marijuana has the benefit of treating many of the symptoms associated with the condition. Other medications may only treat one or two symptoms.
Here are our strain recommendations if you’re looking to use cannabis for Crohn’s disease based on the symptom you’re trying to treat:
- Inflammation. The root-cause of Crohn’s disease is inflammation of the digestive tract. Two active compounds found in marijuana have anti-inflammatory properties: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). These two cannabinoids relieve chronic inflammation and pain caused by inflammation. Studies with Crohn’s patients show that medical marijuana can reduce digestive tract inflammation and allow patients to reach complete remission. Strains used as anti-inflammatories include:
- Purple Urkle (indica)
- Harlequin (sativa)
- Banana Kush (hybrid)
- Tangerine Dream (hybrid)
- Abdominal pain. One of the most common uses for medical marijuana is as a pain reliever, or analgesic. The inflammatory nature of Crohn’s can cause severe abdominal pain. Some patients get addicted to prescription opioids, which are accompanied by dangerous side effects. However, cannabis is a safer, less addictive alternative for pain relief.Certain cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, and cannabis terpenes are known to have analgesic properties. The terpenes found in marijuana create the aroma of the plant, but also contribute to its medicinal benefits.The following strains have been known to have pain-relieving properties. Patients should experiment as every person’s experience with these is slightly different.
- ACDC (hybrid) — high in both CBD and THC
- Blackberry Kush (indica) — high in THC
- Harlequin (sativa) — high CBD content
- Nausea and vomiting. One of the most well-documented benefits of cannabis is for chemotherapy patients who struggle with severe nausea. The plant has an almost miraculous ability to squelch nausea and allow patients to live a fuller life. This ability to alleviate nausea isn’t limited to chemo patients. Other conditions, like Crohn’s disease, can benefit from this.Strains with both CBD and THC have valuable nausea fighting abilities. The plant provides quick relief and eases the stomach of many users. Strains commonly used include:
- OG Kush (hybrid)
- Jack Herer (sativa)
- NYC Diesel (hybrid)
- Berry White (indica)
- Lack of appetite. Many Crohn’s disease patients find it hard to keep food down. Whether it’s nausea, diarrhea or painful inflammation, loss of appetite is a common side effect of the condition. People may joke about pot giving people the “munchies,” but for Crohn’s patients it’s a true medical benefit. Marijuana’s proven ability to induce hunger is just what they need to keep their strength up and fight the disease.The best strains for this include:
- Sonoma Coma (sativa)
- Monster Cookies (indica)
- Maui Bubble Gift (hybrid)
- Anxiety. Because of the chronic and incurable nature of Crohn’s, many patients suffer from severe anxiety. Marijuana can calm even the most anxious patients, giving them a deep sense of peace and allowing them to rest. Some strains high in THC can increase feelings of anxiety, so you may want to consider those with a higher CBD content.Some strains to help with anxiety include:
- Granddaddy Purple (indica)
- Jack Herer (sativa)
- Cannatonic (hybrid)
Before choosing a cannabis product, speak to your marijuana doctor. They can give you product recommendations and advice about the best method of use and dosage.
Information on Medical Marijuana & Crohn’s Disease