What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a subset of a large category of diseases known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). In Crohn’s disease, the main problem is the long-term gut inflammation, which is usually distributed in a patch throughout the gastrointestinal system. The resulting inflammation mostly involves the part where the small and large intestines connect (the terminal ileum).
The inflammation of the gut in Crohn’s disease is usually deep, involving almost the entire wall of the intestines. This causes intense abdominal pain, bleeding per rectum, and marked disturbances to the digestive function of the intestines.
With the occurring inflammation, a wide range of harmful bacteria will find their way to the inflamed areas, making the condition worse and leading to very serious complications.
Although abdominal pain is the characteristic symptom of Crohn’s disease, patients may present with many symptoms based on the degree of gut inflammation. These symptoms include the following:
What are the Causes of Crohn’s Disease?
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is not yet clearly understood. That being said, many hypotheses exist behind the occurrence of this condition in some people. The most accepted hypothesis is the exposure to various environmental factors that would activate this condition in people with a genetic predisposition. However, researchers have not yet identified which environmental factors activate this condition.
Nonetheless, there are many factors that could trigger gut inflammation in these people. These factors include:
- Heavy smoking
- Low fiber diet
- Fatty diet rich in highly saturated fats
- Bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal tract
- Vitamin D deficiency
Normally, there are many bacteria inhabiting our guts, but these are important and non-harmful bacteria that help in the digestion of various products and the formation of important amino acids. However, if harmful bacteria start to invade the gut, then it will cause inflammation of the gut and subsequent activation of Crohn’s disease. The aforementioned triggering factors play a role in making the gut a suitable medium for various infecting organisms, such as bacteria. And, affected people become at a higher risk of getting Crohn’s disease.
Our users find CBD helps with Crohn's disease :
In addition to the previously mentioned factor, stress further increases the liability of developing Crohn’s disease.
The Endocannabinoid System and Gastrointestinal Physiology
There are many cannabinoids in marijuana, the most abundant of which are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which has psychoactive properties, and cannabidiol (CBD), which is known for its therapeutic properties in treating many medical conditions.
Naturally, cannabinoids exist in our bodies in the form of endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids circulate in our blood system and reach their targets, which are known as cannabinoid receptors. There are two types of cannabinoid receptors: type 1 receptors (CB1), which are predominant in the brain, and type 2 receptors (CB2), which are present mainly in the immune system.
The system that regulates the interaction between these endocannabinoids and the cannabinoid receptors is known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system regulates many physiological functions, including pain perception, sleep regulation, and many others. This system has been shown to be disturbed in many medical conditions, highlighting the role of this system in maintaining the normal balance inside our bodies.
As we mentioned previously, gut inflammation is the main issue behind Crohn’s disease. The endocannabinoid system has been shown to play a role in maintaining the normal gut environment and in preventing inflammation.
In our bodies, there are two main endocannabinoids: anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). These compounds bind with the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) to exert certain functions. For example, anandamide is an agonist of both CB1 and CB2 receptors, with a higher affinity to CB2 receptors.
Cannabidiol oil acts in a very similar way to anandamide. CBD interacts with both CB1 and CB2 receptors, but with limited affinity, to exert its function in relieving and preventing inflammation.
The Endocannabinoid System and the Regulation of Gut Inflammation
Gut inflammation is produced mainly by the activation of various immune inflammatory cells, such as the natural killer cells (NKCs), blood monocytes, neutrophils, and CD8+ and CD4+ leucocytes.
CB2 receptors are present mainly on these types of cells. CBD binds with CB2 receptors and activates them. The activation of these receptors results in the attenuation of the inflammation.
In 2011, a group of researchers tried to determine the level of endocannabinoids in the gut biopsy samples of 41 patients with Crohn’s disease. The researchers noted that anandamide levels, an endocannabinoid, were remarkably low in the mucus membrane of these samples. This led to the hypothesis that Crohn’s disease is associated with the reduction in the levels of endocannabinoid in the gut. Therefore, it was suggested that cannabinoids, particularly CBD, can be promising in treating this condition.
CBD has been tested in many animal and human research studies and has been proven effective in reducing gut inflammation in patients with Crohn’s disease. In addition, CBD can have the following effects on the gut and the brain:
- It decreases nausea and vomiting associated with Crohn’s disease
- It improves appetite
- It alleviates pain
- It reduces gastric acid secretion, which worsens Crohn’s disease
- It decreases intestinal motility and gut secretions
- It causes rapid healing of gut wounds
- It stops and prevents gut inflammation
- It inhibits inflammatory cell proliferation
The Therapeutic Efficacy of CBD in Treating Crohn’s Disease in Animal Studies
|Borrelli et al.||In mice models with Crohn’s disease (colitis), cannabidiol (CBD) was administered.
It resulted in:
|Jamontt et al.||In a group of mice with colitis, the following drugs were administered: THC alone, cannabidiol alone, and THC combined with cannabidiol.
It was shown that CBD decreased the degree of inflammation and functional disturbances.
THC alone or with cannabidiol improved the function of cholinergic motor neurons.
The Therapeutic Efficacy of CBD in Treating Crohn’s Disease in Humans
|Naftali et al.||Retrospective, Observational||30 patients with Crohn’s disease||Retrospective inhalational or oral cannabis use||Significant clinical response but
need for other drugs and surgery
|Lahat et al.||Prospective, Observational, without controls||13 patients with IBD||50 g of cannabis cigarette per month (3 months total)||Significant improvement in
quality of life, disease activity,
and weight gain
|Naftali et al.||Prospective, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled||21 patients with Crohn’s disease||Cannabis sativa cigarette
(23% THC, 0.5%
|Significant clinical response
with cannabis but no objective
decrease in inflammation
CBD is very effective in relieving the underlying inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It is also a potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory drug. CBD is very promising in treating patients with Crohn’s disease, particularly when it is combined with lifestyle modification and dietary changes.
Please, make sure to consult your physician prior to taking CBD for Crohn’s disease.
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