Medical Marijuana Use For Crohn's Disease — Results of Research Studies

Medical Marijuana Use For Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease belongs to non-specific inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract with an undetermined cause. Potential factors responsible for the development of the disease includes: genetic background, including individual susceptibility to the occurrence of disease in the family (i.e. in the case when one of the family members is sick, the risk of the disease affecting his offspring is 8.9%, for siblings and parents these rates are respectively 8, 8% and 3.5%).

Crohn’s disease estimates

According to estimates, in Europe alone, the incidence of Crohn’s disease in a year ranges from 1 to 11.4 cases per 100,000 population. The largest number of new patients is found in the group of children and adolescents, as well as people aged 30-40, while the second highest incidence occurs after the age of 60.

The British data indicate that the incidence of this disease has doubled in the period from 2004 to 2014.


The number of patients may be even greater due to the fact that it is very easy to disregard the first symptoms of the disease, which include abdominal pain, persistent diarrhoea, weakness, fever and weight loss. The same symptoms may occur during “stomach flu” or may be caused by, for example, excessive stress.

In cases where Crohn’s disease is suspected in a patient, the physician usually orders the execution of intestinal endoscopy with the collection of specimens for histopathological examination. Laboratory tests, including the determination of CRP protein concentration and blood counts, are also useful as they may be helpful in differentiating inflammatory diseases with diseases resulting from the impairment of the physiological functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.

Crohn’s disease involving large intestine or ulcerative colitis

However, in about 10% of patients, it is impossible to clearly state the type of inflammatory disease, i.e. whether it is Crohn’s disease involving large intestine or ulcerative colitis. In the case of the former, the diagnosis is undetermined colitis.


Anti-inflammatory drugs (glucocorticoids, popularly called steroids) and immunosuppressants (suppressing excessive immune responses) belong to the most commonly used pharmacological agents used in the treatment of Crohn’s disease.

In case these therapies fail to work, newer drugs are used – monoclonal antibodies or surgical procedures associated with local lesions (abscesses, fistulas) —patients are also operated for other reasons, including structures in the intestinal lumen, partial obstruction suspected cancer.

The treatment of Crohn’s disease is a chronic process due to the recurrent nature of the disease itself. Unfortunately, it is probably impossible to completely cure the disease, but new methods are still being sought to help fight this disease. One of them is to check the effectiveness of potential compounds with anti-inflammatory properties.



Cannabidiol (CBD) showed good results in reducing intestinal inflammation in the animal model of Crohn’s disease. Therefore, it was necessary to check its effectiveness in a clinical trial involving patients.

Twenty patients (11 men, 9 women) aged 18-75 were randomly assigned to two groups. Patients in one group received oral cannabidiol, and a dose of 10 mg CBD was taken twice a day, while subjects from the second group received a placebo. Disease activity was assessed on the basis of the CDAI scale (Crohn’s disease activity index and the assessment includes, gastrointestinal complaints, including abdominal pain, underweight, anaemia and other symptoms).

The results are as follows:

Mean value of CDAI before the start of therapy was 337 ± 108 and 308 ± 96 in the group of patients receiving CBD and in the placebo group, respectively. After 8 weeks of treatment, the rate was 220 ± 122 and 216 ± 121, respectively. No serious side effects were observed.


Thus, cannabidiol proved to be a safe compound, but its effectiveness in this study has not been confirmed. According to the authors of the experiment, there may be several reasons why there was a low dose of CBD, i.e. inadequate route of administration or a small group of patients in this experiment. Therefore, researchers recommend further experiments in this area.

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