If you live with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) every day, you must have already drained every possible mainstream treatment in the book. But, have you considered an alternative therapy? One that’s not renowned for treating IBD symptoms?
Surveys show there’s a growing trend to use cannabis for IBD. Around 20% of IBD patients have used the plant in its various forms to treat Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. After the legalization of both marijuana and THC-low CBD, this trend is speculated to catch more pace.
There’s a lot of close calls associated with IBD. Even a slight inflammatory upheaval can land you in surgery. This is why you should take extra care before making any changes to your regime, even those involving the inclusion of cannabis in one way or another.
Many studies have tried to explore the link between cannabis and hemp for Crohn’s disease. So, what does the scientific evidence suggest? Is CBD safe and effective for inflammatory bowel disorders? Should you know of any risks involved?
To answer these questions, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to nudge you in the right direction.
CBD for IBD: What You Need to Know
IBD is a hard disease to manage. One of the major indicators of the condition is intense inflammation-induced pain in the digestive tract.
The worst part of having IBD is the diagnosis. Narrowing down why the pain is surging and what seems to be causing the flare is incredibly difficult. There are so many different factors involved, from genetics and diet to lifestyle choices and environmental influences.
Because of these reasons, scientists have struggled to develop safe and effective treatments for IBD. If you have Crohn’s, you’re already aware that it has no cure. Current treatments, such as corticosteroids and aminosalicylates, can only help manage underlying symptoms and also cause adverse side effects.
This is why many people are relying on holistic notions of tackling this incurable illness. At the epicenter of these novel approaches is CBD and THC, therapeutic compounds known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
CBD to Treat IBD Symptoms: What Does Science Say?
According to the National Academies of Science, pain management is one of the most research-backed properties of cannabis. Anecdotal evidence advocates this view: Many IBD patients have reported CBD to help with abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, and diarrhea — some of the most common symptoms of IBD diseases.
Many studies have followed the progress of IBD patients using cannabis as part of their treatment protocols. One study contested placebo against vaporized CBD and found CBD to have a drastic impact on IBD symptoms within eight weeks. In another study, smoking cannabis for three weeks positively affected physical pain, depression, and weight.
However, even though CBD may treat IBD’s underlying causes, it’s not certain that it might also combat the associating inflammation. Unfortunately, we just don’t have conclusive evidence to prove this right.
Existing research has been focused on full-spectrum cannabis products containing CBD, THC, and a variety of other therapeutic compounds. And THC is illegal in most states because it causes psychoactive effects. Because of this, hemp-based CBD products, which contain only trace amounts of THC, are being studied to understand cannabis’s role in fighting IBD. Most of this research is in its infancy, and therefore tentative and not reassuring.
Preclinical evidence indicates that CBD may inhibit TRPV channels in the central nervous system, thus alleviating pain. Furthermore, the compound may also enhance intestinal hypermobility (also called diarrhea). However, we need extensive human clinical trials, as most of this experimentation is based on animal models.
CBD and IBD Inflammation
Even in remission, slight inflammation can start a vicious cycle of escalation. Most physicians recommend prescription medications, along with physical activity and a good diet, to keep IBD flare ups at bay. Some even recommend health supplements like fish oil and turmeric.
The FDA has also categorized CBD and THC as health supplements. Therefore, they may play a role in managing certain IBD symptoms, such as anxiety and inflammation. However, there’s no concrete evidence to validate this assumption.
Downsides and risks of CBD for IBD
Most research has been-cannabis focused. And cannabis contains THC, the psychotropic substance linked with various side effects, from hallucinations and delirium to appetite suppression.
For many consumers, THC is not a suitable option. If you’re one of these people, it’s best to buy CBD-dense full-spectrum cannabis products from reputable vendors. Why Full-Spectrum? Because it’s the most effective option.
When cannabinoids exist in a healthy blend, they exhibit a special effect called the entourage effect. The entourage effect enhances and refines the effects of cannabis, thus giving its compounds better medicinal value. So, if you’re using CBD for IBD, Full Spectrum is the way to go.
Although CBD has an excellent safety profile, there are some risks and concerns you should be aware of. First and foremost is its interaction with prescription drugs.
CBD is thought to interact with drugs that come with a grapefruit warning. This includes 60% of the pharmaceuticals available in the market:
- antibiotics and antimicrobials
- anticancer medications
- antiepileptic drugs (AEDs)
- blood pressure medications
- blood thinners
- cholesterol medications
- erectile dysfunction medications
- GI medications, such as to treat GERD or nausea
- heart rhythm medications
- mood medications, such as to treat anxiety, depression, or mood disorders
- pain medications
- prostate medications
Final Thoughts on CBD For IBD
So what’s the verdict: Is CBD worth it for IBD patients?
Unfortunately, science doesn’t have a conclusive answer to this question. That said, you can incorporate good quality CBD oil, preferably a full-spectrum variety, to give yourself the safest chance of seeing whether the compound works for you or not.
Dosing is another consideration you need to keep in mind. High doses of CBD have shown to cause mild side effects, such as dry mouth and diarrheas. Since IBD is a highly sensitive inflammatory condition, it’s best to start slow and then gradually increase the dosage to gauge tolerance. Your holistic cannabis doctor can help you with this.