Marijuana Compounds May Help Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Compounds found in cannabis (marijuana) may help relieve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. The two compounds, cannabinoids THC and cannabidiol, have an impact on the body system that controls the function of the intestinal tract.

Inflammatory bowel diseases include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which together affect more than 1 million people in the United States. Although these diseases are related and both involve chronic inflammation of the intestinal tract, along with abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, and fever, they are not the same. One main difference is that ulcerative colitis can be cured with surgery, but Crohn’s disease cannot.

Inflammatory bowel disease most often develops in people between the ages of 10 and 30, although a smaller peak has been seen in people ages 50 to 60. The cause is unknown, although experts believe both genetic and environmental factors are involved. More specifically, it is proposed that a genetic susceptibility is triggered by factors such as stress, diet, or bacteria, which then leads to a dysfunctional immune response and inflammation.

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Treatment of inflammatory bowel disease involves symptom relief. In this new study, the results of which were presented at The British Pharmacological Society’s winter meeting in London, researchers noted that the body produces its own cannabinoid molecules, which are called endocannabinoids. These molecules increase the permeability of the protective lining of the intestines during inflammation, which allows bacteria to escape into the intestinal tract. This suggests that overproduction of these molecules is harmful to the gut.

The researchers also found, however, that they could reverse this process when they introduced cannabinoids derived from marijuana. These plant-extracted compounds “appeared to allow the epithelial cells to form tighter bond with each other and restore the membrane barrier,” noted Dr. Karen Wright, the study’s lead author and the Peel Trust Lecturer in Biomedicine at Lancaster University.

So far the research on the marijuana compounds against inflammatory bowel disease has been limited to cell cultures, but the investigators are encouraged by the results thus far. Dr. Wright also noted that “while THC has psychoactive properties,” cannabidiol does not, and it has proven to be effective in restoring membrane integrity in their research on inflammatory bowel disease.

SOURCES:
American College of Gastroenterology
Lancaster University news release

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Comments

I have had an illeostomy now since 1972 and know for a fact that marijuana will absolutely stop my ilium from passing any food for at least 30 minutes even after eating a complete meal, therefore helping or allowing me to change my appliance without any discharge from the ilium which is very important to maintaining a healthy stoma and skin around the stoma. This allows longer times in between changes and the very important part to maintaining very healthy skin around the stoma. Sometimes as anyone with an illeostomy knows, it is not always a perfect time to change the appliance when it prematurely fails. I currently don't use this drug anymore because I have learned over the forty plus years of experience with a stoma, how to take care of this. I really do think that back in 1966 when I started with the ulcerative colitis symtoms that I could have maybe delayed having the surgery or at least had the surgery under better circumstances instead of having the colon leaking internally and almost taking my life. I know that a person my age now or even twenty years younger than now would most likely not survive this surgery. I know that I am taking a risk stating this in writing and giving out my email address at this time, but if it can help someone its worth it. Also I do not wish to see marijuana legalized in any way.