CBD Oil for Crohn’s Disease

The average healthy individual just takes a well-functioning digestive system for granted, and those who are facing Crohn’s Disease can get back to just that with the addition of CBD oil to their daily routine. Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease, which means that an overactive immune system has decided it wants to attack various areas of the body that it is supposed to be protecting. Crohn’s Disease is a disorder that results in inflammation of the digestive tract, with the main symptoms being severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss with malnutrition, and abdominal pain. It affects different areas of the intestines in each person who experiences the disease and can lead to life-threatening complications. There is no cure for Crohn’s Disease, so the focus is mostly on effective symptom management. That’s where CBD oil comes in with its positive effect on doing its job of balancing the immune system and lessening the symptoms that accompany it.

What exactly is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s Disease is one of the disorders in the IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) category. About 38,000 cases are newly diagnosed each year, with 780,000 living with and trying to manage the disease. This chronic illness can be life-threatening and interrupt the normal routine of everyday life. With the amount of time and resources involved in attempting to resume normal living, Crohn’s can have a great deal of impact on patients financially, as well as on the healthcare system.

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is responsible for the absorption of nutrients and processing the remaining product to remove it from the body. Crohn’s causes inflammation in various places of the GI tract, from mouth to anus, and makes them less effective at their job. The symptoms may seem just annoying at first but can become dangerous as they lead to malnutrition and weight loss. People are also affected by persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding. The cause of Crohn’s has been undetermined but is believed to be a combination of genetic tendencies, environmental triggers, and an imbalance in the immune system.

Some cases of Crohn’s Disease can be mild, whereas some develop extremely serious complications that can include:

  • Fistulas
    • A tunnel to another part of the intestine, skin, or other organ formed from an ulcer on the intestinal wall that extends.
  • Strictures
    • A narrowing of the intestine where it formed scar tissue. This can lead to intestinal blockages.
  • Abscesses
    • Pus that has collected in the abdomen, pelvis, or around the anus.
  • Perforated bowel
    • The intestine having chronic inflammation that weakens the wall so much so that a hole is created.
  • Malabsorption and malnutrition
    • Lack of essential vitamins and minerals the body needs to thrive

The digestive system may work on its own and have a specific function, but it is still a part of the whole body with multiple systems that are required to work together for optimal health. With the above problems occurring directly inside the intestines, it also affects other parts of the body. Other complications include:

  • Itchy, painful, and red eyes
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Osteoporosis
  • Kidney stones
  • Tender bumps with painful sores and rashes on the skin
  • Hepatitis, cirrhosis, and primary sclerosis cholangitis of the liver

What are the traditional treatments for Crohn’s Disease?

With no cure for Crohn’s Disease and every patient experiencing symptoms in a unique way, each treatment must be tailored to the individual for whom they are being designed. A variety in regimens created are based on the following factors:

  • The severity of the disease
  • Its location in the body
  • What side effects the patient is experiencing from the medication
  • Previous response to other medications
  • Comorbidities (other diseases possessed by the patient)

Most prevalent medications used to treat Crohn’s are found in a few main categories:

  • Corticosteroids
    • Provide an anti-inflammatory effect, keeping the immune system in check. Useful in controlling short-term flares and are not recommended for long-term maintenance because of extreme side effects, which can include bone loss, increased infection, weight gain, cataracts, fragile skin, mood swings, and insomnia.
  • Immunomodulators
    • Limits the abilities of the immune system to prevent chronic inflammation. Used in extreme cases.
  • Antibiotics
    • Some benefits can be found when the disease has infiltrated the colon and anus.
  • Biologic therapies
    • Mainly used in moderate to severe cases when someone hasn’t responded to other therapies, which blocks specific white blood cells from making it to the inflamed tissue.

Eventually about 70% of Crohn’s Disease patients will need surgery to remove diseased areas.

What is the ECS?

Each of these ways has an effect on every system of the body and can be accompanied by side effects that range from mild to severe. The point is to lessen Crohn’s disease while determining what side effects with which someone is willing to live. Figuring out how to manage the disease with the least amount of side effects is important for quality of life. The endocannabinoids system (ECS) is found in all vertebrates and is responsible for maintaining or creating a balance in every system of the body when there has been injury or illness. It only produces the neurotransmitter, endocannabinoid, that effects the receptors as they are needed so may need help when they become overloaded.

How does CBD oil help Crohn’s Disease?

When a part of the body has injury or illness, help can be found with the use of CBD oils. The cannabinoids extracted from the cannabis plant act the same way on the ECS that the naturally occurring endocannabinoids do. They either bind to or react with receptors to induce the therapeutic qualities necessary to reduce a variety of the symptoms common to Crohn’s Disease. CBD oil is legal in the United States as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC, so it will not produce the “high” that is associated with Crohn’s Disease. Some of the symptoms that CBD helps are:

  • Chronic pain – pain is one the biggest subjects researched regarding CBD oil and how effective it is at reducing pain and discomfort in a variety of illnesses.
  • Inflammation – CBD oil not only targets inflamed areas if it’s tissue, but also nerves.
  • Anxiety – CBD oil produces a calming effect, so can ease the ease anxiety associated with the physical symptoms associated with any disease.

Not only can CBD oil reduce the symptoms of the disease, its efficacy on the side effects of the medications as it balances the immune, digestive, and every other system affected by Crohn’s Disease.

Crohn’s Disease can range anywhere from mild with occasional flare-ups to severe with debilitating, life-threatening effects. There is no cure, so managing symptoms of the disease itself and the side effects of the harsh prescriptions medications is the goal of being able to live with and manage the disease. Finding a way to function through a daily routine when having to fight pain, inflammation, and persistent diarrhea can be a challenge; however, this is where CBD oil in every form can help patients of Crohn’s Disease adapt to their “new normal”.

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-for-ibd#overview
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/crohns-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353304#:~:text=Crohn’s%20disease%20is%20an%20inflammatory,digestive%20tract%20in%20different%20people.
  3. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/crohns-disease#:~:text=Crohn’s%20disease%20is%20a%20chronic,healthy%20tissue%20in%20your%20body.
  4. https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/sites/default/files/2019-02/Updated%20IBD%20Factbook.pdf

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