Cannabis oil improves Crohn's disease symptoms: study
Published Sunday, October 21, 2018 6:00PM EDT Last Updated Monday, October 22, 2018 10:46AM EDT
According to a new study, cannabis oil can “significantly” improve Crohn’s disease symptoms.
“(S)tudies have shown that many people with Crohn's disease use cannabis regularly to relieve their symptoms,” Dr. Timna Naftali, an Israeli gastroenterologist who also teaches at Tel Aviv University, said in a written statement. “It has always been thought that this improvement was related to a reduction in inflammation in the gut and the aim of this study was to investigate this.”
Crohn’s disease is a lifelong inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can cause severe belly pain and chronic diarrhea.
Dr. Naftali, whose study is being billed as the first of its kind, found that an eight-week treatment with cannabis oil containing a four to one CBD to THC ratio produced clinical remission in up to 65 per cent of individuals with Crohn’s disease. The randomized, placebo-controlled study involved 50 people with moderately severe forms of the disease. The group that received cannabis oil also reported significant improvements in their quality of life.
Interestingly, however, cannabis was found to have no effect on the gut inflammation that underscores the disease.
"We have previously demonstrated that cannabis can produce measurable improvements in Crohn's disease symptoms but, to our surprise, we saw no statistically significant improvements in endoscopic scores or in the inflammatory markers we measured in the cannabis oil group compared with the placebo group," Dr. Naftali explained. "We know that cannabinoids can have profound anti-inflammatory effects but this study indicates that the improvement in symptoms may not be related to these anti-inflammatory properties."
Going forward, Dr. Naftali and her research team plan to further investigate cannabis’ potential anti-inflammatory properties to treat IBDs.
"There are very good grounds to believe that the endocannabinoid system is a potential therapeutic target in Crohn's disease and other gastrointestinal diseases," Dr. Naftali said. "For now, however, we can only consider medicinal cannabis as an alternative or additional intervention that provides temporary symptom relief for some people with Crohn's disease.”