The research on how cannabis may affect IBD is scarce but both growing and very promising. A 2011 study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology sought to evaluate cannabis use in patients with IBD. Patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease were given a questionnaire regarding current and past cannabis use, lifestyle factors, socioeconomic factors, medication and medical history.
The study concluded that cannabis use is common among patients with IBD. Patients reported that they used cannabis to control symptoms such as abdominal pain and depression and that it improved their quality of life. Researchers determined that further studies are needed to evaluate the effects of cannabis on Irritable Bowel Disease.
Due to the long period of prohibition on cannabis research has been difficult. Recent legalization should allow researchers to conduct ongoing trials on how cannabis use may benefit patients with IBD.
The GI Society, a Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, has provided IBD patients with significant information on their website badgut.org. Their video explains how cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC, act on CB1 and CB2 receptors in the digestive tract to reduce pain and inflammation. It also suggests that subjective reports of cannabis use have been shown to reduce patients symptoms as well as improve their overall quality of life. The GI Society recommends alternative methods of ingestion, such as vaporizing, oils and edibles, as an alternate to smoking cannabis.
Subjective reports suggest that a multidisciplinary treatment approach is most beneficial to individuals suffering with IBD. Pharmaceutical treatments and lifestyle changes are crucial to managing IBD, but research shows that cannabis may also reduce symptoms.