Cannabis has been used as an antiemetic for decades. Both natural cannabis and medications such as Marinol are useful medications to treat nausea.

Medical cannabis and medicines such as Marinol have been used to prevent nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. In addition, it has also been used to increase appetite in patients with AIDS.

People with Crohn’s disease also suffer from nausea, diarrhea and from loss of appetite. In short, these patients could benefit from the use of cannabis to increase appetite and mitigate nausea. Furthermore, its anti-inflammatory properties could be of great help for people with gastrointestinal problems.

Is cannabis useful for treating Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel syndromes?

Many people who suffer from IBD use marijuana to mitigate abdominal pain, improve appetite, and to reduce diarrhea.

Is medical cannabis useful in the treatment or mitigation of Crohn’s disease? Yes, medical cannabis could be useful in mitigating symptoms caused by Crohn’s disease.

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Stress and diet might aggravate symptoms associated with Crohn's disease.
Stress and diet might aggravate symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s disease is an intestinal disease of unknown origin. However, it seems to be caused by a combination of environmental factors and a genetic predisposition.

Risk factors that might aggravate this condition include diet and stress. In addition, according to Mayo Clinic, other risk factors include age, smoking, family history and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication.

Crohn’s disease could also lead to serious complications such as intestinal obstruction, ulcers, fistulas, anal fissure, malnutrition and even colon cancer.

Furthermore, many people with Crohn’s disease suffer from fatigue and anemia. Moreover, all these symptoms also cause psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, and stress.

It is common that people who suffer from Crohn’s disease have periods with more aggressive symptoms and periods of remission.

The table below shows the most common symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease:

Crohn's disease and common symptoms.
Crohn’s disease and common symptoms.

Cannabis and Crohn’s Disease: How Can Medical Cannabis Help to Mitigate Crohn’s Disease?

Medical cannabis is not a cure for Crohn’s disease. Research is still ongoing to investigate the link between cannabis and Crohn’s disease.

Nonetheless, cannabis is used to mitigate the symptoms of inflammatory bowel syndrome. For example, THC can help to increase appetite. Both natural cannabis and THC medications such as Marinol have been used to increase appetite in people with AIDS.

Furthermore, the medical community has assumed that the relief of the symptoms is caused by some cannabis anti-inflammatory properties.

According one study 46 patients were divided in two groups: one was given cannabis oil containing 4% THC and 15% CBD while the other group was treated with a placebo. The study concluded that 65% of patients treated with cannabis oil improved after the treatment compared with just 35% of patients treated with a placebo.

There are many studies to test cannabis properties for the treatment of IBS. These studies show very promising results and patients claimed improvements in appetite, weight gain and other symptoms associated with IBS. Nonetheless, the limited data is not enough to draw conclusive evidence to whether cannabis is helpful in the treatment of inflammatory bowel syndrome or not.

The limited data available shows that cannabis may help and improve quality of life in patients who show a poor or incomplete response to traditional treatments. Furthermore, some studies concluded that the use of cannabis may mitigate some of the symptoms commonly associated with inflammatory bowel syndrome. The same study states that these effects are most likely possible through the effect of cannabis in the endocannabinoid system.

Conclusion: Cannabis and Inflammatory Bowel Syndromes

While there is a link between cannabis and Crohn’s disease improvements, we still need more research to prove its efficiency. Many people who suffer from Crohn’s disease use cannabis to improve symptoms associated with the disease. Moreover, some studies claim that the mitigating effects are possible through the effect of cannabis on the endocannabinoid system.

Furthermore, other studies have found a lower frequency of colorectal cancer and anemia in people with IBS who are cannabis users.

In conclusion, cannabis could be useful in mitigating some effects associated with Crohn’s disease, but we still need more research to determine its efficacy.

This post was originally published on June 3, 2020. It was most recently updated on July 14, 2021.