A new study suggests that the regular use of medical marijuana may achieve the “complete remission” of Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disorder.
The study, published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, attempted to determine the effect that regular medical marijuana use had on patients with Crohn’s disease, Medical Daily reports. An examination of 21 subjects revealed that medical marijuana effectively treated symptoms in many patients, while achieving “complete remission” in others.
"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," researchers at Meir Medical Center in Israel stated. "We performed a prospective trial to determine whether cannabis can induce remission in patients with Crohn's disease."
During the study, 11 subjects were given two “joints” of medical marijuana each day for two months, while the remaining 10 subjects constituted a placebo group. Of the 11 Crohn’s disease patients who used medical marijuana, five experienced total remission of their symptoms, increased appetite, and improved sleep patterns, Medical Daily reports. Furthermore, 10 of the 11 patients experienced some form of “clinical response” to the medical marijuana usage.
Ultimately, the study determined that "THC-rich cannabis produced significant clinical, steroid-free benefits to 11 patients with active Crohn's disease, compared with placebo, without side effects,” Medical Daily reports. However, researches noted that "primary end point of the study (induction of remission) was not achieved," despite the five patients who experienced that effect. Crohn’s disease has no cure, but is often treated with dietary changes, corticosteroids, or, in extreme cases, invasive surgery.
Although it is often identified as an autoimmune disorder, Crohn’s disease is actually an immune deficiency state arising from various environmental and genetic factors, Medical Daily reports. The chronic inflammatory illness attacks the subject’s gastrointestinal tract, resulting in symptoms of “mild abdominal pain to more severe cases of bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, weight loss and fevers.”
According to Medical Daily, patients with severe instances of Crohn’s disease can defecate as many as 20 times a day. Although the illness affects 400,000 to 600,000 people in North America, many people aren’t diagnosed until years after the disease manifests.