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Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding
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Inc. and none should be inferred.
Inflammatory bowel disease, which caused 51,000 deaths in 2013, is the
chronic inflammation of the digestive track. Studies have shown marijuana
reduces the pain, nausea and diarrhea associated with the disease and even
shows promise as a treatment that encourages remission.
Overview of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is chronic inflammation of lining of the
digestive track. The two major types of IBD are ulcerative colitis, which
affects the innermost lining of the large intestine and rectum, and Crohn’s
disease, which can affect different areas of the digestive track and often
sees the inflammation spread deep into affected areas. More rare types of
IBD’s include collagenous colitis and lymphocytic colitis.
The symptoms associated with IBD vary depending on inflammation severity.
The disease causes abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, severe diarrhea, fever,
weight loss, fatigue, blood in one’s stool, and malnutrition. The pain
caused by IBD can be debilitating.
Heredity and abnormal behavior by the immune system are likely what cause
Crohn’s disease. Those who have family members with the disease are more
common to acquire it themselves. When the immune system responds to fight
off a virus, bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms, at times it can
respond abnormally and also attack the harmless cells in the digestive
track, which in turn leads to inflammation.
There is no confirmed cure for inflammatory bowel disease. However,
treatments significantly reduce the disease’s associated symptoms and in
some cases, even bring about remission. Treatment efforts commonly include
anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, anti-diarrhea, and pain relief medications.
In some cases, a feeding tube may be necessary to allow the digestive track
to rest and lower inflammation. Surgery may be employed remove the damaged
portion of the digestive track.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Cannabis has been determined to effectively address the symptoms associated
with inflammatory bowel disease disease. Two cannabinoids found in cannabis,
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), possess anti-inflammatory
effects, offer pain relief, reduce nausea and stimulate appetite. As a
result, cannabis use is common among those with inflammatory bowel disease.
One study found that 17.6% of inflammatory bowel disease patients use
marijuana to treat their symptoms, and although use was also found to be
associated with a higher risk of surgery, patients reported an improvement
in abdominal pain (83.9%), abdominal cramping (76.8%), joint pain (48.2%),
and diarrhea (28.6%) (Storr, et al., 2014).
The benefits of cannabis help those with inflammatory bowel disease to
manage their discomfort and experience a better quality of life. In one
study, after three months of being treated with cannabis, inflammatory bowel
disease patients reported improvements in their general health perception,
social functioning, ability to work, physical pain and depression. These
same patients also saw an increase in body weight and body mass index (Lahat,
Lang & Ben-Horin, 2012). In another study, individuals with inflammatory
bowel disease reported that marijuana was “very helpful” in relieving their
abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea (Ravikoff, et al., 2013). In individuals
with Crohn’s disease, cannabis caused a significant improvement in appetite
and sleep (Naftali, et al., 2013). Nausea relief as well as reductions in
both pain sensation and feelings of unpleasantness was reported after
cannabis use in another study (Schicho & Storr, 2014). In addition, using
cannabis has also been shown to reduce the need of other medications in
patients with Crohn’s disease (Naftali, et al., 2013).
Research also suggests that cannabis may be effective at helping those with
inflammatory bowel disease to reach long-term remission. Medical cannabis
use has been determined to be associated with an improvement in disease
activity (Naftali, Mechulam, Lev & Konikoff, 2014). In one study, cannabis
rich in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) produced significant benefits to 10 or 11
patients with active Crohn’s disease, without side effects, and 5 of those
11 subjects achieved complete remission (Naftali, et al., 2013).
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Currently, Maine, New
York, Ohio and Pennsylvania have
approved medical marijuana specifically for the treatment of inflammatory
Other states have approved medical marijuana to treat only specific types of
inflammatory bowel diseases, including Arizona (Crohn’s
disease), Arkansas (Crohn’s
disease, Ulcerative Colitis) Connecticut (Crohn’s
disease, Ulcerative Dolitis), Florida (Crohn’s
disease), Georgia (Crohn’s
disease), Hawaii (Crohn’s
disease), Illinois (Crohn’s
disease), Louisiana (Crohn’s
disease), Maine (Crohn’s
disease), Massachusetts (Crohn’s
disease), Michigan (Crohn’s
disease), Minnesota (Crohn’s
disease), Montana (Crohn’s
disease), Ohio (Crohn’s
disease, Ulcerative Colitis), Pennsylvania (Crohn’s
disease), and Washington (Crohn’s
A number of other states will consider allowing medical marijuana to be used
for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease with the recommendation from
a physician. These states include: California (any
debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been recommended
by a physician), Connecticut (other
medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer
Protection), Massachusetts (other
conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other
conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other
conditions subject to approval), Rhode
conditions subject to approval), and Washington (any
“terminal or debilitating condition”).
D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a
DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.
Several states have approved medical marijuana specifically to treat
“chronic pain,” a symptom commonly associated with inflammatory bowel
disease. These states
include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New
Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island and Vermont.
The states of Nevada, New
Dakota, Montana, Ohio and Vermont allow
medical marijuana to treat “severe pain.” The states of Arkansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington have
approved cannabis for the treatment of “intractable pain.”
Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Inflammatory Bowel Disease
A clinical study showed that cannabis produces significant clinical
benefits in patients with Crohn’s disease, including a reduction in pain
sensation, nausea relief and reduce the feeling of unpleasantness.
Cannabis finds its way into treatment of Crohn’s disease.
Three months of inhaled cannabis treatment caused an increase in quality
of life measurements, disease activity index and caused gains in weight
and body mass index in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
Impact of cannabis treatment on the quality of life, weight and clinical
disease activity in inflammatory bowel disease patients: a pilot
GBD 2013 Mortality and Causes of Death Collaborators. (2015, January 10).
Global, regional, and national age-sex specific all-cause and cause-specific
mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the
Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Lancet,
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). (2015, February 18). Mayo
Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/inflammatory-bowel-disease/basics/definition/con-20034908.
Lahat, A., Lang, A. and Ben-Horin, S. (2012). Impact of cannabis treatment
on the quality of life, weight and clinical disease activity in inflammatory
bowel disease patients: a pilot prospective study. Digestion,
Naftali, T., Bar-Lev Schleider, L., Dotan, I., Lansky, EP., Sklerovsky
Benjaminov, F. and Konikoff, FM. (2013, October). Cannabis induces a
clinical response in patients with Crohn’s disease: a prospective
placebo-controlled study. Clinical
Gastroenterology and Hepatology,
Naftali, T., Mechulam, R., Lev, LB, and Konikoff, FM. (2014). Cannabis for
inflammatory bowel disease. Digestive
Ravikoff Allegretti, J., Courtwright, A., Lucci, M., Korzenik, JR. and
Levine, J. (2013, December). Marijuana use patterns among patients with
inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory
Schicho, R. and Storr, M. (2014). Cannabis finds its way into treatment of
Crohn’s disease. Pharmacology,
Storr, M., Devlin, S., Kaplan, G.G., Panaccione, R., and Andrews, C.N.
(2014, March). Cannabis use provides symptom relief in patients with
inflammatory bowel disease but is associated with worse disease prognosis in
patients with Crohn’s disease. Inflammatory
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