Crohn’s disease is a painful and debilitating condition that can severely reduce a patient’s quality of life. It is also known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) because an inflammation of the bowel characterizes it. This disease can infect any part of the gut, but it is more likely to affect the small intestines. In IBD, pain is usually caused by strictures, abscesses, bowel obstruction, and ulcers. Ulcers are one of the defining features of the disease, thus earning it the name ulcerative colitis. It is possible to see how CBD oil can help this condition by looking at its subjective symptoms at face value. A more in-depth discussion is necessary to understand the disease and how CBD helps in its management. This article is a discussion of Crohn’s Disease and its interaction with CBD oil.
What to know about Crohn's Disease
When the ailment is in advanced stages, the inflammation occasioned by Crohn’s Disease is usually severe. It runs far beneath the layers in the affected sections of the gut. The inflammation causes excruciating pain that leads to an inability to perform everyday activities, and if left untreated for too long, IBD can become a life-threatening condition.
Among the significant complications that may occur due to Crohn’s include bowel obstruction due to scarring. Open wounds develop in the gut, anal areas, and around the genitals. IBD may eventually cause a patient to develop fistulas, which causes the gut’s contents to spill in areas where they shouldn’t. These fistulas are open sores, and they are at a very high risk of infection due to their regular contact with bacteria. If they get infected, they form abscesses, which can lead to the patient’s death.
Having Crohn’s Disease increases a patient’s vulnerability to colon cancer. It also makes it difficult for a person to eat, and even when they eat, the sick sections of the gut are unable to play their role in absorption. All these factors work together to cause malnutrition in the patient. Cases of anemia are common in IBD patients due to increased digestive systems’ inability to absorb iron and vitamin B-12.
While all the scary situations described above are possible, many people with IBD live productive lives every day. The condition only needs to be managed effectively.
One of the reasons ulcerative colitis is such a menace is that its cause is unknown. Conventional medical wisdom previously held that some types of food or stress cause Crohn’s Disease, but recent research has discounted this position. The recent discoveries agree that the two factors can aggravate the condition, but they aren’t the original cause. At the moment, scientists believe that the disease has some autoimmune and genetic attributes.
Many researchers believe that Crohn’s Disease appears when your body is trying to fight off a bacterium or a virus. The immune system then proceeds to attack the gut, which is an abnormal reaction. It is also believed that some people come from gene pools that make them more susceptible to the condition. The genetic angle means that if there are people in your family who have suffered from IBD, you are at a higher risk of contracting it.
It is also noteworthy that most people usually get Crohn’s when they are around 30 years of age. This doesn’t mean that people of other ages can’t get it. This doesn’t mean that people of other ages can’t get it; it only means that people over thirty are less likely to get it even when their family has a history of the disease.
Although the cause is unknown, there are several well known and documented risk factors for this condition. They are listed as follows:
Statistics show that Caucasoids are more likely to contract Crohn’s disease. People of African and Asian descent, on the other hand, experience fewer cases.
A significant 20% of people with this condition have close relatives who also have it.
People who live in urban areas are more likely to get this condition than those who live in rural areas. It has also been observed that the disease is more prevalent in industrialized countries than in developing nations. Even people from less vulnerable ethnicities who live in industrialized countries record more cases than their counterparts in less developed countries. This information suggests that lifestyle and environmental cases especially eating processed foods, maybe a predisposing factor.
There is clear evidence showing that smoking increases the possibility of getting Crohn’s Disease. Many experts have stated that smoking is the most significant preventable factor that contributes to this condition. For people who already have IBD, smoking exacerbates the symptoms in a big way.
Only steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs work for IBD. Anti-steroidal inflammation medication makes the condition worse.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease manifest with different levels of intensity from person to person. Sometimes they manifest slowly and become progressively worse over time, but they can start suddenly with considerable intensity. Sometimes the patient may experience flare-ups and remissions on and off. Although the intensity of the symptoms is not uniform, patients usually display similar symptoms.
The following are some of them:
- High fever
- Bloody stool
- Abdominal pain and crumps
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Pain when passing stool
- Inflammation of joints
- Inflammation of the eyes
- Inflamed ducts in the liver
- It causes stunted growth of children’s genitals.
Many of these symptoms are a rather unremarkable occurrence for a person living with the disease, but there are times to get worried when you have Crohn’s Disease. For example, if you experience sudden weight loss and diarrhea or fever that doesn’t respond to regular medication within a couple of days, you should see a doctor. The presence of blood in stool is another cause for alarm.
Levels of IBD Treatment
Diagnosis can be made in one of the following ways or through two or more of them, as determined by the doctor.
This test is meant to check for the level of red blood cells in the patient. As we had mentioned earlier, anemia is one of the symptoms of IBD. If a patient’s physical symptoms cause the doctor to suspect IBD, having a low red blood cell count will be one more indication of Crohn’s.
This helps the doctor to view the colon using a specialized device. If the colon appears inflamed or infected, it may be an indication that the patient has IBD. The doctor can also obtain samples for a biopsy during a colonoscopy. Test results from these tissues provide further clarity on the diagnosis.
If there is blood in the sample, you may have the disease. The specimen also helps rule out other conditions present with the same symptoms as Crohn’s, such as bacterial infections.
Sometimes, a doctor may order for imaging such as x-ray, CT Scan, and Magnetic Resonance in case the symptoms are severe. These tests are usually ordered when the diagnosis has been confirmed. Their purpose is to determine the location and extent of the inflammation to decide how to approach treatment.
Crohn’s Disease is not cancer, but a person who has it requires to be screened for colon cancer regularly since they are at a high risk of getting it.
Treatment depends on the severity of a patient’s conditions, and they range from drugs to surgery. Some of the drugs administered for the disease are mild, and the prescription’s strength increases progressively depending on the severity of the condition or if earlier medicines aren’t effective. The following are the different levels of treatment.
5-Aminosalicylic Acid (5-ASA)
Medicine of this category is usually the first level of therapy for IBD. They can be taken orally, as suppositories or as an enema. The method depends on which part of the gut is inflamed. Drugs in this category include olsalazine, sulfasalazine, balsalazide, and mesalamine.
These drugs usually have considerable side effects; it is not advisable to prescribe them on a long-term basis. They are only given when 5-ASAs aren’t effective, and the condition has advanced to moderate or severe. Budesonide and prednisone fall under this category.
The use of immunomodulators suppresses the activity of a user’s immune system, thus reversing the process that caused the inflammation in the first place. Drugs in this category include tofacitinib, azathioprine, and cyclosporine.
The effects of the immune system may also be moderated by some biologics such as infliximab, which neutralize the immune system’s proteins. Other biologics may be prescribed to block inflammation from developing further in the affected area. A doctor may prescribe biologics at any level of severity.
Surgery for IBD is usually done as a last resort because it usually has far-reaching effects on the patient as it means the removal of the colon and rectum. The procedure is referred to as ileal pouch-anal anastomosis. Doctors try to find ways of enabling the patient to continue passing stool as normally as possible. However, sometimes they have to create a permanent opening on the belly through which the patient passes stool through a specialized bag.
Can Cannabis and CBD Oil Treat Crohn's?
The number of people who use cannabis and CBD oil to manage their IBD symptoms has been increasing over the years. One study conducted in 2013 showed that between 10% and 20% of people with IBD used cannabis and CBD oil to manage the condition. During this time, cannabis-related products had not achieved as much acceptance as now. This means that the numbers are likely to have increased.
People using it is one thing, but can it be helpful in the management of the problem?
The Endocannabinoid System
CBD and other cannabinoids found in marijuana can only affect the user’s body when they connect with the endocannabinoid system. The good thing is that the endocannabinoid system extends to the gut, making it possible for CBD oil to affect the infected parts of the intestines.
The endocannabinoid system helps restore homeostatic balance in the parts of the body where it is found. This means that through its internally generated cannabinoids, it plays roles such as reducing inflammation and the regulation of digestion. The use of CBD, therefore, can reduce inflammation caused by IBD.
When the inflammation advances to deeper layers in the affected area, it interferes with the ECS’s normal functioning since it erodes the nerves. Having external cannabinoids introduced in the body may help stabilize the digestive system, which is beneficial to the patient since IBD adversely affects digestion.
Management of Pain and Inflammation
Among the significant issues with Crohn’s Disease is pain and fever, where a patient experiences flare-ups. CBD and cannabis help to reduce pain. There are instances where the use of CBD has been found to cause full remission of the condition.
Stress exacerbates IBD symptoms, and it needs to be managed to ensure the patient’s well-being. CBD oil for anxiety and depression can help with this, and it can also give the patient peace of mind as they handle the pressure caused by this illness.
Please note that CBD is not a replacement for conventional medicine. It is a supplement. Ensure you continue taking your prescription drugs even as you use it. It is also vital for you to seek advice from your doctor on when to take CBD, how much it takes, and the best formulation to use.
For example, if you use CBD gummies, the cannabinoid will have to be synthesized through the liver, and your doctor might discourage it. This is because research shows that CBD slows down the liver’s ability to metabolize medicine. If the drugs you use are severely affected by the liver’s slowdown, it might be prudent for your doctor to adjust dosage and timing accordingly. Such an adjustment would accommodate the CBD while ensuring you get the most out of the prescription medicine.
Cannabis Study Results
Numerous studies have been done on CBD for IBD, with most of them showing that it is effective. One of the recent studies was conducted among patients in Australia, where 93% of them gave a positive review of the effectiveness of cannabis for IBD. Another survey showed that 41% of users experienced clinical remission after taking cannabis twice a week for eight weeks.
On average, people who use cannabis had a lower possibility of getting severe fistula and intra-abdominal abscess symptoms. Research shows clear evidence that subjective symptoms such as pain, inflammation, and fever improve with the use of cannabis. Studies also suggest that the best therapeutic effect is achieved when a patient uses both CBD and THC.
The legal use of marijuana for therapeutic purposes is a relatively new phenomenon. It was challenging to research marijuana before legalization, but now many studies are going on. These studies will yield information on CBD’s effects on people with IBD and exactly how it achieves these effects.
The management of Crohn’s Disease is problematic primarily because its cause is not clear. This disease can severely reduce a patient’s quality of life through excruciating pain and the inability to eat. IBD may lead to disability and even death if it proves intractable.
CBD and cannabis, the newest addition to the wellness market, show great promise to manage many different conditions, including Crohn’s Disease. There is a clear indication that CBD helps control the disease’s subjective symptoms, but more studies are needed to establish whether it can deal with the disease’s root cause. Please remember that CBD oil is a supplement, and it should be used alongside prescription medicine. Always ensure to keep your doctors in the loop and take their advice seriously.