As CBD oil and other cannabis products have become legal in more and more places over the last few years, they have become increasingly popular as natural treatment options for different health conditions.
One condition that many people are now treating with CBD oil is Crohn’s disease. If you have Crohn’s or another irritable bowel disease, you may find that CBD oil helps in various ways.
What is Crohn’s?
Before we get into the use of CBD oil for Crohn’s management, we need to know what the disease is and how it affects the body.
Crohn’s disease is one of many irritable bowel diseases (IBD). It is a chronic condition involving inflammation of one or several parts of the digestive tract.
The symptoms and treatment for Crohn’s depend on which part of the GI tract is affected by the disease.
The most commonly affected sections are the end of the small intestine and the large intestine. This type of Crohn’s is called ileocolitis.
Other common types of Crohn’s include ileitis, which affects only the end of the small intestine, gastroduodenal Crohn’s, which affects the stomach and the beginning of the small intestine, jejunoileitis, which affects patches of the upper small intestine, and Crohn’s colitis, which affects only the large intestine.
The causes of Crohn’s are not fully understood, but there does seem to be an inherited component. Around one-fifth of people with irritable bowel disease have at least one first-degree relative who also has an IBD.
There is also likely an environmental component, as some countries and regions have much higher rates of Crohn’s than others.
Crohn’s symptoms often reach beyond the GI tract and affect the body as a whole and the individual’s quality of life.
What are the benefits of CBD?
The full range of potential uses for CBD is still a topic of serious debate and study, but a few things have become fairly clear.
Some of the health benefits of CBD are fairly well established and consistent, even though we don’t know exactly how or why they work.
- Pain relief – One of the most common uses for cannabis products, including CBD oil, is pain relief. Both topical and oral CBD appears to reduce pain, and medical marijuana is often prescribed for people whose pain is resistant to conventional treatments. So far, studies indicate that CBD can be a very effective way to relieve pain.
- Reduced inflammation – Another commonly reported benefit of CBD use, and one of the likely reasons for its powerful pain-relieving abilities, is reduced inflammation throughout the body.
- Improved mood – Many people report a relaxing or calming effect when using CBD, and CBD oil as a treatment for problems like anxiety and depression is currently being studied.
Crohn’s and the Endocannabinoid System
The system with which cannabis primarily interacts within the body is called the endocannabinoid (EC) system. EC system receptors are present throughout the body and influence a variety of processes.
One of the many processes affected by the EC system is the digestive process. The EC system regulates digestion and inflammation, both of which are strongly tied to Crohn’s.
In all inflammatory bowel diseases, the EC system is compromised as well as the digestive system. Some parts of the digestive tract are constantly inflamed, and the digestion of food is affected.
In many people, the body is so severely compromised by Crohn’s that they become malnourished unless a proper course of treatment is taken.
This link between the EC system and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s suggests that the EC system could be used as a pathway to access effective treatment.
Cannabinoid treatments, like CBD oil, may be able to treat Crohn’s by attacking the problem from several different directions.
Evidence and Precautions
In order to use CBD oil for Crohn’s disease management effectively, we should first look at what current studies indicate about the treatment, and then follow a few precautions.
CBD oil can affect Crohn’s disease in two major ways:
- The EC system – As we discussed above, the digestive and inflammatory processes normally regulated by the EC system can be disrupted in Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel diseases. CBD oil can influence EC receptors to correct these problems.
- The microbiome – Although this needs further research, current animal studies indicate that cannabis products may be used to balance the microbiome. Since the microbiome is directly impacted by Crohn’s, this effect could be used to improve Crohn’s symptoms.
However, you should keep the following things in mind before jumping into CBD treatment for Crohn’s:
It may not affect disease progression – The focus of most of the studies done on CBD treatment for Crohn’s has been symptoms, not disease progression or remission.
The evidence supports the use of CBD oil for Crohn’s symptoms, like pain and irregular bowel movements, which improve the overall quality of life for patients.
However, this does not necessarily mean that it affects the actual disease. You should not consider CBD a replacement for other Crohn’s treatments, but rather an addition to your current ones.
It can cause digestive symptoms – Side effects from CBD use are exceedingly rare, but when they do occur, the most commonly reported effects are digestive problems like diarrhea.
Your digestive system is already very compromised when you are dealing with Crohn’s, so if you notice any digestive symptoms from use of CBD, stop taking the CBD right away and discuss the side effects with your doctor.
Things to Consider When Buying CBD Oil for Crohn’s:
Just like when buying CBD for anything else, you should always search for a high-quality product when buying CBD oil for Crohn’s.
Cheap, unregulated cannabis products can have dangerous contaminants, so it’s important to make sure a product has been tested by a third party before buying it.
You should also consult your doctor about the safety of CBD treatment for you. CBD can interact with some medications, so if you are taking any prescription drugs for your Crohn’s, you may need to plan around this fact to avoid interactions.
CBD oil may be a very effective treatment for Crohn’s due to its anti-inflammatory properties and interactions with the EC system.
We need further research to understand how to target this treatment more precisely, but for now, we know that CBD is likely to improve your quality of life with Crohn’s.
Always discuss treatment changes with your doctor, and use our list of the ten best CBD oil products to find a high-quality option.