Updated on August 27, 2018.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Because there’s no cure for Crohn’s disease, the main goals for treatment are to manage a patient’s Crohn’s related symptoms and help them achieve longer stretches of time where no adverse symptoms are experienced.
Many of the medications used to help manage Crohn’s symptoms cause severe side effects such as dizziness, fever and headaches, to name a few. That’s why more patients are seeking medical marijuana treatments. In certain states, Crohn’s patients can use cannabis as a supplemental treatment.
Medical marijuana treats many chronic and severe symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease. Because the medications are all natural, it’s a safer alternative than more commonly used prescription meds. Read on to learn how medical marijuana can help manage the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
Common Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) characterized by severe inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The condition and the associated inflammation affect the body in many ways. And if left untreated, it can lead to more serious medical complications.
Common symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease include:
- Diarrhea with or without the presence of blood
- Loss of appetite
- Cramping and abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Depression and anxiety
Managing Crohn’s Symptoms With Medical Marijuana
Multiple studies and anecdotal accounts show medical marijuana treats a lot of the symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease. Not only does it help patients manage pain, loss of appetite and nausea, it also treats the root-cause of the condition — inflammation.
Other medications are only able to treat one or two the symptoms. But medical marijuana can treat multiple side effects simultaneously. Here are some of the most common side effects of Crohn’s and how medical marijuana can help you manage them:
- Inflammation. Studies have been conducted to determine medical marijuana’s effects on Crohn’s patients and other inflammatory diseases. The results are all the same — cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties and could be the key to dramatically alleviating this symptom. Both cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can reduce digestive tract inflammation. The herb has also been beneficial at helping Crohn’s patients reach full remission.
- Cramping and abdominal pain. Whatever the cause of the pain, medical marijuana is a powerful analgesic. Most of the pain associated with Crohn’s is caused by inflammation. Medical marijuana not only treats the cause, but provide instantaneous relief in the meantime. CBD and THC and all-natural cannabinoids imitate the receptors found in our bodies. Cannabis blocks pain receptors, allowing patients to find relief. It’s also safer and less addictive than prescription pain medications.
- Nausea. Many conditions cause extreme nausea. One of the most effective treatments for this side effect is medical marijuana. It soothes gastrointestinal issues, and in many cases, completely alleviates this symptom.
- Lack of appetite. A well-known side effect of pot is its ability to make users hungry. While recreational users find this funny, those with medical conditions like Crohn’s can use this to their advantage. If the disease has left patients with little to no appetite, medical marijuana can induce them to eat and build up their strength.
- Depression and anxiety. Patients with Crohn’s disease often suffer from drawn out flare ups, where symptoms are at their peak. Because the condition has no known cure, depression or anxiety often result.There are two main strains of marijuana — sativa and indica. These two strains affect mood in very different ways. Sativa strains are known for increasing energy and brightening a user’s mood. That’s why this type of cannabis is great for those struggling with depression or fatigue. Anxiety is often treated with indica strains, because of its mellowing side effect.
Before choosing a cannabis product, talk to your marijuana doctor for product recommendations and advice about the best method of use and dosage.
Information on Medical Marijuana & Crohn’s Disease