by Ben Sensi on 19/11/2013 | Medicinal

Cannabis can induce remission of Crohn’s disease’s symptoms

Researchers in Israel performed a clinical trial of the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis on patients suffering from Crohn’s disease. On the 21 patients suffering from severe symptoms and who did not respond to other treatments (including steroids), 11 were given cannabis twice daily while the other received a placebo. After 8 weeks of treatment with cannabis 5 of them showed complete remission of the symptoms while clinical response was measured in 90% of cases.

cannabis and crohns disease text

An immune deficiency state

Crohn’s disease is often mischaracterised as an autoimmune disease when it is in fact an immune deficiency state. This state depends on a variety of genetic, environmental and immunological factors and has no known cure to this day. The chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract provokes symptoms such as mild abdominal pain, bloody diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and fevers.

Modern medicine aims at reducing these symptoms to keep the disease in remission using several methods, from a light change in diet to a steroids treatment or even surgery to remove affected area of the tract. The method used depends on the severity of the symptoms and therefore fall on a spectrum depending on the person. Anecdotal evidences, like the story of Shona Banda, suggest that the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis have a positive effect on patients suffering from Crohn’s disease.

A prospective clinical trial

The researchers at the Meir Medical Center in Tel Aviv, Israel wanted to investigate further this specific effect. “The marijuana plant Cannabis sativa has been reported to produce beneficial effects for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases, but this has not been investigated in controlled trials,” they wrote in the publication on the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. “We performed a prospective trial to determine whether cannabis can induce remission in patients with Crohn’s disease.”

As explained by Dr. Lester Grinspoon in his Note of Caution, anecdotal evidence cannot be considered by science, hence the importance of a controlled and measured study to draw conclusion on the effects of cannabis as a medicine. This is what the researchers did and even though they do not call their study a total success, clinical response in 90% of the cases and complete remission in 45% of the cannabis group shows a clear benefit for patients. The researchers encourage further study on the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis and other intake method than smoking.

Cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties

cannabis and crohns disease text IIAlthough this clinical study measured an exact amount of 11.5 mg of THC per cannabis cigarette, no other cannabinoid has been precisely recorded. The anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis can be useful to sufferers of arthritis, cirrhosis and other diseases, and other cannabinoids have proven to serve that purpose. Amongst them, the (E)-BCP is a molecule that targets only CB2 receptors, having therefore no psychoactive effects and can also be found in a variety of food such as black pepper, oregano, basil, lime, cinnamon or carrots.

As the researchers concluded, studies should be conducted to investigate further the possibility to induce full remission of the symptoms using cannabis.

Moreover, including in such study measurement of the (E)-BCP content as well as the THC levels could help researchers to understand better the effect of cannabis on the symptoms of Crohn’s disease as well as other inflammatory conditions. Using vaporisation could also prove to be a beneficial intake method for it is as efficient delivery method as smoking without the negative effects of combustion.

Source: US National Library of Medicine

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