Data published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology has shown that patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) report fewer symptoms and a reduced number of visits to the hospital following the use of cannabis products.
IBD is a collective term for two conditions, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC). UC and Crohn’s are long-term medical conditions involving chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, or gut. Symptoms of IBD include pain, cramps or swelling in the stomach, weight loss and extreme tiredness. At present, there is no known cure for Crohn’s or UC.
Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City surveyed 236 IBD patients who were accessing medical cannabis in dispensaries in New York and Minnesota. They found that the average frequency of cannabis use amongst the IBD patients was once a week, with high THC vape pens being the most common form of consumption.
Respondents “reported fewer emergency room visits in the 12 months after versus before medical cannabis use and less impact of symptoms on daily life,” according to the summary of the study. Researchers added that “medical cannabis users with IBD perceive symptom benefits and report decreased emergency room visits without serious adverse effects.”
Past studies have shown similar, promising results for patients with IBD. In a study of 21 patients with Crohn’s disease, 45% of the participants achieved clinical remission after 8 weeks of smoking cannabis with 115 mg of THC twice daily, compared to only 10% of the placebo group. Three participants also found that cannabis reduced their dependency on steroids.
Research from a study commissioned earlier in 2022 by Crohn’s & Colitis UK suggests that over half a million people (1 in every 123) in the UK are living with IBD, nearly double that of the 300,000 previously estimated. While patients are unlikely to be able to access medical cannabis on prescription via the NHS, it is possible to obtain a legal cannabis prescription via a private clinic.