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Cannabis for IBD – Cannabinoids show promise for treating, relieving and preventing inflammation

Many IBD patients who use narcotics for treatment purposes could use cannabis as an alternative and natural form of medication

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) could soon be treated using cannabis. Human therapy studies and epidemiologic data have shown how cannabinoids could ease the symptoms of IBD. 

A 2010 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology demonstrated that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was highly effective at treating/managing inflammation in rats. Cannabidiol (CBD) was not effective on its own, but when combined, the effects combined synergistically. Another study published at the University of Naples’ Department of Experimental Pharmacology showed how CBD prevented inflammation from occurring before it began.

However, further studies are required to ascertain whether cannabinoids simply conceal the symptoms or actually relieve them, thanks to their anti-inflammatory effects.

Further studies on cannabis for IBD are required

Although cannabis for IBD won’t be available as a mainstream treatment immediately, studies are spotlighting the plant’s efficacy. Until cannabis can be integrated into the healthcare system, placebo-controlled trials must be conducted. If the results of large, double-blind, randomized trials reflect positive improvement in the treatment of IBD, this type of plant medicine could be accepted as a treatment for primary types of IBD: Crohn’s disease (CD) and Ulcerative Colitis (UC).

Patients who have exhausted alternative options may consider cannabis for IBD

Recently, Mark Silverberg, MD, PhD, of Toronto’s Sinai Health System spoke at Digestive Disease Week.  The review he was leading at the event analyzed the truth about cannabis for IBD.

When you have exhausted other treatments, it isn’t unreasonable,” Silverberg said in regards to trying cannabis.

He also spoke of the potential side effects, particularly when used by children and adolescents, saying, “It’s not a completely harmless substance.”

There is a lot to learn about the endocannabinoid system and only when scientists dig a little deeper will we truly know how it is connected with the symptoms of IBD.

“It is not clear if cannabis can be used to induce remission in IBD. Further research is warranted to determine if cannabis can be used as an adjunctive therapy to treat symptoms such as nausea, pain, and anorexia,” said Silverberg, who also touched upon the long-term effects.

Cannabis for IBD is less destructive on health than narcotics

Many IBD patients who use narcotics could use cannabis as an alternative and natural form of medication, according to Silverberg. Following his presentation, panelists said that cannabis did not produce the (caustic) side effects that certain narcotics do.

Silverberg believes practitioners should focus on how well they are able to serve patient needs when prescribing cannabis for IBD. Furthermore, Silverberg says that there are numerous reasons why cannabis should be used to treat IBD. Not only do current therapies suppress the immune system but also, they are usually accompanied by adverse effects.  

A colossal amount of patients desire alternative and/or complementary treatments. Moreover, many cannabis consumers are ubiquitous, with Silverberg claiming that half of IBD patients consume it in some form.

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Cannabis for IBD – Cannabinoids show promise for treating, relieving and preventing inflammation