Recently, more and more diseases have become known in which CBD is a possible treatment alternative and supplement. Maybe you've been following developments. People affected by the incurable inflammatory bowel disease Crohn's disease also report positive experiences with cannabidiol.
Scientific research in this medical field is still in its infancy. Nevertheless, there is reason to hope that CBD could also have great potential in this difficult disease. Learn more about the topic now.
What is Crohn's disease?
Crohn's disease is the best-known inflammatory bowel disease besides ulcerative colitis. It usually affects parts of the small and large intestine. Theoretically, it can occur throughout the entire digestive tract, starting from the oral cavity.
It can also affect areas of the body outside the digestive system such as joints, eyes and skin.
The disease is accompanied by chronic inflammation that extends far into deep tissue layers. In most cases, the course of the disease is relapsing and there are also symptom-free intervals. Nevertheless, the disease is chronic and is still considered incurable. It is suspected that the bowel disease could be an autoimmune disease.
Autoimmune diseases are disorders of the body's immune system. In this case, the defence system is directed aggressively against the body's own structures, which could explain the permanent inflammation in Crohn's disease. However, the findings are not yet certain.
In addition to the disease itself with its distressing symptoms, those affected often suffer from complications such as intestinal obstruction and tissue changes in the intestine with further consequences. The course of the disease is always somewhat individual and difficult to predict.
Causes, symptoms, course and prognosis
Many things have not yet been clearly clarified in Crohn's disease. This does not make the diagnosis and later the treatment of the disease any easier.
Those who suffer from this disease often have to deal with the stigma that they can be prevented from coping with their everyday life by recurrent attacks. Exhaustion and a permanent feeling of illness also often characterise the lives of those affected.
There is increasing evidence in research into Crohn's disease that factors play a role in its development. The consumption of nicotine is still considered a risk factor. Whether and to what extent nutrition is also involved in the development of the inflammation remains to be seen.
Some of those affected report improvements after certain dietary changes, but their experiences are not scientifically explained and confirmed at the moment.
These uncertainties in the understanding of the chronic disease can also place a heavy burden on those affected. For them, diarrhoea, pain and fever are apparently difficult to process and accept even from the nothingness.
Most of the patients suffer intermittently from painful diarrhoea with cramps that often force them to report sick. Fever, exhaustion, joint pain, inflammation of the eyes and skin changes can also occur.
As a result of the permanent inflammation, fistula formation, intestinal constriction and deep tears of the tissue often occur in the intestinal area. Especially in the case of intestinal stenosis and intestinal obstruction, surgical interventions may become necessary. Sometimes parts of the intestinal tissue have to be removed.
Diagnostics and prognosis
It is not easy to diagnose the disease. Usually, detection is only possible by a combination of blood examination and endoscopy (endoscopy) in the inflamed intestinal area. The blood is searched for corresponding Marlers for the inflammatory processes, such as the C-reactive protein (CRP).
Therefore, it often takes some time until the diagnosis is made. In some cases, palpation can already provide evidence of hardened areas of inflamed tissue in the intestine. Palpation of the anus allows conclusions to be drawn about fissures (tears) and fistulas (formation of ducts in the tissue).
As a rule, little can be said about the further course of events at first. However, it is true that in some people the disease shows a particularly aggressive character.
This often leads to severe flare-ups of the disease and also to changes in the tissue relatively early on. In this case, mirroring and further examinations are necessary again and again to monitor the development.
This constant cycle of examinations and relapses of the disease puts additional strain on those affected. The uncertainties are frightening.
The treatment of the disease
The main aim of the treatment is usually to reduce the inflammation. This should also lead to an extension of no-thrust periods. In addition, the aim is to prevent, as far as possible, serious changes in the tissue of the affected parts of the intestine.
The focus of treatment is currently on cortisone in various dosage forms and dosages.
Drugs that inhibit the immune system can also be used. Their task is to regulate the excessive reactions of a misdirected immune system. Brand names and substance names of such immunotherapeutics are for example azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine. Methotrexate (MTX) can also be injected.
Risk of side effects
If you have ever had anything to do with cortisone, you probably know that its use can be associated with side effects. This is especially true for long-term administration of cortisone. The consequences and side effects can range from adrenal gland problems to high blood pressure and osteoporosis.
Therefore, doctors try to limit the use of cortisone in Crohn's disease as far as possible. Immunotherapeutic drugs can also have many side effects, as they influence the body's immune response overall. They are also often not well tolerated. Nausea and vomiting are common.
Surgery as an emergency measure
If Crohn's disease leads to intestinal obstruction or perforation of individual parts of the intestine, often only surgery is required. These are serious procedures, during which bowel segments are often removed.
This can have a further negative effect on the entire digestive system of those affected and further weakens the quality of life of those affected. Much of the food is now no longer well tolerated and additional digestive problems often occur. Sometimes a disabled status is achieved after such an operation.
The treatment of inflammatory bowel disease is often a difficult balancing act between an improvement in the quality of life for those affected and the possible consequences of treatment.
Depression associated with Crohn's disease is widespread because many people with this disease must feel that their situation is hopeless. It is therefore understandable that many patients want an effective and gentle alternative treatment. What could CBD do for them?
Cannabinoids and their treatment potential in Crohn's disease
Cannabinoids such as CBD and also the noisy THC have been shown in various scientific studies to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. These effects can be explained by the activity of cannabinoids in the endocannabinoid system of the human organism.
The human endocannabinoid system
The investigation of substances in the cannabis plant led to an interesting discovery: the human body produces substances itself that are biochemically similar to cannabinoids. They have very important tasks in the organism.
Together with a system of receptors in the human nervous system, intestines and other areas, they regulate processes such as pain sensation and inflammatory reactions. You can imagine the docking of such a substance to a suitable receptor site as if a key were inserted into a lock.
Since cannabinoids are so similar to the substances that are genetically similar to the body's own, they too can occupy certain receptors and act on reactions there. With regard to Crohn's disease and CBD, the so-called CB1 receptors in the human intestine are of particular interest.
Initial findings give hope
Initial scientific observations of applications of THC and CBD in Crohn's disease have shown improvements in symptoms. Especially the crampy diarrhea symptoms decreased.
The scientists attribute these improvements mainly to an activation of the CB1 receptors in the intestine. But they are not sure of their own cause. For the subjects of an Israeli study from 2018, about 65% of the participants showed significant improvements in their main symptoms by taking a combination of CBD/THC.
Many of those affected themselves emphasized above all the improved quality of life with cannabinoids.
Other studies and medical assessments came to similar results.
No clear scientific evidence yet
However, experts and scientists are currently unable to agree on what the effect of CBD on Crohn's disease is really based on. In the opinion of some experts, it cannot be the known anti-inflammatory effects of the CBD alone.
This finding also emerged from the aforementioned Israeli study. The study leaders had been able to determine the named improvements in the symptoms of the disease. However, no comparable improvements in inflammatory activities have been demonstrated.
Nor does the CBD appear to work equally well for all those affected. Individual studies have also concluded that the prognosis for cannabinoid disease tends to worsen.
(Follow this link with further evidence to the state of discussion).
It therefore seems too early for physicians to recommend CBD treatment for Crohn's disease. In the scientific studies conducted so far, medical extracts have also been used, which also contain a certain amount of THC. At this point, too, many questions remain unanswered. A study that only uses CBD would be interesting.
Finally, there is still no generally valid knowledge on the dosage of CBD in inflammatory bowel disease.
Crohn's disease has a very individual course in every patient. Previous medical treatment is also often difficult because a very individual medication has to be found for each patient. This applies not only to the treatment dose, but also to treatment intervals.
Field reports from users
In many cases, cannabinoids are used by those affected as treatment alternatives and/or
supplements. Many report improvements in symptoms and quality of life. The relaxing effect of cannabinoids is often emphasized.
Users also emphasize that, in contrast to classical drugs such as cortisone, CBD is free of side effects.
However, most of those affected take medicinal cannabis (THC and CBD).
Further research needed with great potential
The diagnosis of Crohn's disease is for many sufferers just another climax of a long ordeal. When the typical treatments do not work well and the side effects torment additionally, real desperation often arises.
That's understandable. Even a minor gastrointestinal infection can greatly reduce the quality of life. So what must it feel like when cramps, diarrhoea and pain are permanent?
It is therefore worth considering CBD and medical cannabis as alternatives. As an affected person you should explore your individual possibilities with cannabinoids together with doctors who are sensitized to the topic. Tests with CBD oil alone could also be worth a try. Since so little research and understanding of the disease as a whole is still being done, there is little to lose and much to gain.
It is above all the improved quality of life that many sufferers emphasize after treatment attempts with cannabinoids. This effect alone should be worth giving cannabinoids a chance.
Anything that can help to cope better with this treacherous chronic disease is crucial. For most of those concerned, this aspect should be the focus of attention. Initially, they are not interested in knowing exactly how the effect is produced. The first thing that matters is that it works.
Note: In this article we report on prescription cannabis, prescription CBD or over-the-counter or legal CBD. This Article does not make any proposal as to the possible purpose of the proposal and is for information and education purposes only. Promises of healing and benefits are excluded.