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Cannabinoids and Crohn’s disease

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Research into the medical effects of hemp is still in its infancy. Nevertheless, it is a concern of to keep you, the readers of our magazine, always up to date. We would like to inform you about every new achievement in the field of clinical application of hemp. For this reason, in the following article we present you a study that tries to prove the effectiveness of cannabinoids in the treatment of Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s disease is one of the most common chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. In Switzerland, there are about 8000 people who suffer from the disease. In those affected, the disease usually breaks out for the first time at the age of 20-35. To date, it is not clear what triggers the disease. Furthermore, at the present time (as of January 2021), there is still no cure. In most cases, the disease causes severe cramps in the lower abdominal region as well as watery diarrhea, which can sometimes last for weeks. Furthermore, symptoms such as fever, nausea, vitamin and iron deficiencies or digestive disorders may occur. Crohn’s disease is mostly relapsing, i.e. phases with severe symptoms alternate with symptom-free phases.

Hemp has been proven to be used in the treatment of chronic intestinal diseases since ancient times.
In 2013, scientists from Germany and Austria took it upon themselves to help rehabilitate the reputation of the hemp plant from a medical perspective and to prove the efficacy of cannabinoids in diseases such as Crohn’s disease. To do this, they conducted a placebo-controlled study with 21 patients suffering from Crohn’s disease, in whom conventional treatments had no effect. The study was able to demonstrate that an eight-week treatment with cannabis containing THC was able to significantly alleviate symptoms in 90% of patients. No side effects worth mentioning occurred in anyone. Specifically, the study suggests that cannabinoids, most notably THC, relieve the severe abdominal pain caused by Crohn’s disease, greatly attenuate the feeling of nausea, and significantly suppress the feeling of malaise. Although the study focused on the effect of THC, it is reasonable to conclude that other cannabinoids such as CBD or CBG also have an impact, precisely because they have both been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.

Exactly how THC works in Crohn’s disease patients has not yet been scientifically proven down to the last detail. Initial findings suggest that the CB2 receptors of the human endocannabinoid system in particular play a role. It is possible, for example, that the cannabinoids that dock there accelerate wound healing in the colon and thus reduce pain. In addition, they seem to stimulate precisely those receptors that ensure that the production of diarrhea is attenuated.

However, many more studies need to be conducted to more fully understand and describe the mechanisms by which a large proportion of participants in this initial study saw a strong improvement in symptoms.

Very briefly:
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. The symptoms are sometimes very severe and painful. To date, there is no cure. A first scientific study suggests that cannabinoids (especially THC) could reduce the symptoms of patients strongly.

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