Today’s question comes from Vanessa of Alamo, CA, who suffers from an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) known as Crohn’s Disease. She’s spun her wheels with conventional pharmaceutical drugs. Now, at her wits end, she wants to give medical marijuana a try as a possible last resort. She writes…
I’ve been suffering from my Crohn’s Disease for years now.
When I’m in remission, I may get some discomfort here and there, but, things get really bad when I have a flare-up.
I feel bloated. I get really nauseous which destroys my appetite. Sometimes the cramping in my stomach is so painful that it leaves me curled up in a ball on the floor.
The worse is that I have zero control of my bowel movements. So, going to any place that’s public makes me highly anxious. I never know when I’ll have to make run for it to a bathroom. I have to be really picky about where I go and map out where the nearest bathroom’s going to be. For this reason, I said good-bye to events like streets fair a long time ago. I’m left feeling like I’m missing out on life because of this condition that I have.
I also get anemic time to time because of the Crohn’s Disease. These times I wake up feeling so exhausted, it’s a struggle to literally peel myself off my bed.
What I hate the most is I’m just left feeling so worn out from the Crohn’s Disease, it leaves me feeling cranky and I’m not the kindest I could be towards my family, especially my kids.
During the flare-ups my doctor prescribes steroids, but I have a lot of trouble sleeping when I’m on these.
In an attempt to prevent the flare-ups, my doctor’s put me on drugs that suppress my immune system, but I read these drugs can cause not only inflammation of my liver and pancreas, but cancer, which has me really concerned.
On my own, I’ve tried every diet under the sun. I eliminated so many ingredients from my diet that I was left with nothing to eat.
Honestly, I feel like I’m at a loss. Recently I’ve found myself thinking about using medical marijuana because a friend of a friend told me that it helps her with her symptoms of Crohn’s Disease. Is this a worthwhile route to pursue?
Thanks for reaching out to me. Medical marijuana as a form of treatment for Crohn’s Disease is not something that is not as well known yet. But, more and more, patients, like your friend are starting to discover its medical value for the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease.
Medical Marijuana for Crohn’s Disease: The RESEARCH
You’ll be very interested to learn about a recent study of patients with Crohn’s disease treated with medical marijuana.
The patients that participated in this study had stopped responding to conventional pharmaceutical drugs (like prednisone, asacol, and methotrexate, remicade), and, like yourself, had expressed interest in trying medical marijuana to relieve their symptoms.
With a group of 21 participants, the researchers gave half these patients marijuana in the form of cannabis cigarettes (I’m gonna give you fair warning that smoking cannabis is harmful to your health). The other half were given cigarettes in which the main chemical in the marijuana, namely THC, was removed. Bear in mind that none of the patients in the groups knew what kind of treatment they were getting.
10 out of 11 patients given marijuana with the THC reported an improvement in their appetite and sleep, whereas only 4 out of 10 patients from group given marijuana without the THC reported the same.
5 out of 11 patients from the group given marijuana with THC had a complete remission of their symptoms, while only 1 of the 10 patients in the group given marijuana without the THC reported the same.
The researchers thought these results were pretty impressive given that these patients stopped responding to pharmaceutical drugs in the first place. The other important facts are that
- none of the patients reported any side effects, like confusion, or changes in their memory or concentration and
- none of the patients reported any withdrawl symptoms when they stopped using the marijuna once completed with the 8 weeks of the study.
Medical Marijuana for Crohn’s Disease: The RESULTS
Vanessa I also want to share with you results I’ve seen in my own practice (in Walnut Creek, CA) treating patients with Crohn’s Disease.
Patients come back telling me that the medical marijuana helps to significantly relieve the painful abdominal cramps they experience, which in turn helps to reduce that embarrassing sense of urgency they get. It also helps to curb any nausea they have helping to improve their appetite.
With their symptoms better controlled, they regain a sense of normalcy in their lives, even something like going to the movies, and not having to make sure they get a seat in the aisle in case they have to run to the bathroom.
I hope that helps you Vanessa.
Dr. Rachna Patel
- Cannabis induces a clinical response in patients with Crohn’s disease: a prospective placebo-controlled study
More information on Medical Marijuana for Crohn’s Disease:
- A Cannabis Patient’s Guide to Crohn’s Disease by Crohn’s Patient Daniel Towns
- Worth repeating: medical marijuana defeats Crohn’s Disease