Crohn’s disease is a common gastrointestinal disorder that disrupts the daily lives of thousands. And while sometimes individuals discover what triggers their symptoms and try to make some lifestyle changes, other times it’s not so simple. Conventionally given treatments are often unpredictable in their efficacy, so many people are turning to CBD as a medical cannabis option.
Let’s see some details about Crohn’s disease and CBD, and how you can dose CBD if you want to try it as an alternative treatment yourself.
What Kind of Disease Is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. Along with ulcerative colitis, it falls under the umbrella of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBDs) and it affects the walls of the small intestine. It causes swelling and irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, triggering a variety of responses and disrupting the quality of life of the people who suffer from it.
Common symptoms of Crohn’s include cramping and abdominal pain, as well as bloating, fatigue, constipation or diarrhea, and changes in appetite that can result in weight-loss. It’s believed that the flare-ups the individuals experience are often due to changes in diet and stress. For example, they can be symptom-free for months, and then suddenly feel their symptoms coming back due to another intestinal inflammation.
Usually, the treatment of Crohn’s includes immunosuppressants, anti-inflammatories, and antibiotics, but for many, these medications either don’t help to control the symptoms or are not well-tolerated. In recent years, as CBD has been in the spotlight for its anti-inflammatory properties, it’s often considered as a possible alternative treatment.
What You Should Know About CBD
CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the primary cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, but unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it doesn’t produce the high that marijuana is known for. This makes it very suitable for people who want to utilize the beneficial properties of the cannabis plant, but without getting high. CBD is known to have anti-inflammatory effects and many people already use it for chronic pain relief. (Atalay, 2019)
Unlike THC that attaches to the cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system, when CBD enters the body, it attaches to the receptors that have a role in the immune system, including the anti-inflammatory response. Even though there is little research on using CBD for Crohn’s, the available limited amount of clinical trials suggests that using this cannabis compound for the treatment of this disease is well worth the effort.
For example, a 2013 placebo-controlled clinical trial discovered that the group of participants who didn’t respond well to the traditional treatment (immunosuppressants) saw a vast improvement in their symptoms after cannabis use for 8 weeks.
Generally, CBD oil is considered to be one of the best and most accessible forms of consuming CBD, so let’s see how much you should take for an effective treatment of your symptoms of IBD.
How Do You Dose CBD Oil for Crohn’s?
The general rule of thumb with CBD oil is to take the smallest dose that proves to be effective. This, of course, involves a little experimenting until you find what works for you, but considering that CBD is usually well-tolerated, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Therefore, starting small and seeing how your body reacts would be a good way to go. We don’t recommend starting with a large dose and then scaling down as your body may become too used to it, making it less effective. When you start with a smaller dose, you can always add more, just make sure to write down how much you take.
The bottles come with a dropper which will make dosing easier – one full dropper is about 1 milliliter, which equals to 20 drops, or 7 mg. We recommend you take 25 mg to 50 mg for mild gut inflammation, and if this dosage doesn’t work, you can increase it up to 100 mg a day, but make sure to spread out the doses evenly throughout the day and not to take more than 100 mg.
Finally, for optimal absorption, it’s best to take the CBD oil sublingually (as with all tinctures), meaning to put the oil under your tongue and let it absorb naturally. You should start feeling the effects in about 30 minutes, but wait a little longer to increase the dosage if you don’t feel any relief after the first one.
What Type of CBD Oil Works Best?
CBD oil is most often extracted from the industrial hemp subtype of the Cannabis sativa plant. When it comes to the way it’s formulated, there are three types of CBD oil:
- CBD isolate, which is just vegetable oil infused with pure CBD extract, usually 99% pure. This type of oil doesn’t include any other cannabinoids or terpenes, which is why some people prefer it;
- Broad-spectrum CBD oil contains CBD plus other chemical compounds present in the cannabis plant, but it excludes THC. This oil is preferred by people who can be sensitive to THC or just want to avoid it, but still get the benefits from the other compounds;
- Full-spectrum CBD oil is closest in chemical composition to the hemp plant itself because it contains all cannabinoids that are naturally found in this cannabis variety, including THC. Given that the hemp plant has a very low concentration of THC, this type of CBD oil will also be very low in THC, about 0.3%. Some people like this variety because it allows for the cannabinoids to work together to enhance the health benefits of CBD, an effect also known as “the entourage effect”.
Choosing the best CBD oil for your needs can be confusing, especially if it’s the first time you’re using CBD. We recommend you consult with the budtender in your local dispensary or anyone who might have experience with using CBD oil before you make your purchase.
Is CBD Oil Safe?
Of the many cannabis products on the market, CBD oil is considered to be very safe and much better tolerated than THC. Because it’s not psychotropic, it doesn’t cause any mind-altering effects and it rarely causes side effects. Unless you take a very large dose or are sensitive to CBD, you’re likely to get used to it very fast. The most common side effects that people can experience, though, are changes in appetite, nausea, drowsiness, and fatigue.
If you’re taking any prescription medication, such as blood thinners or others, you need to be aware that there may be contraindications with CBD, so we recommend you consult with a trained professional for extra safety.
Other CBD Products
You don’t have to limit the use of CBD to tinctures and oils only. If you want to try something other than CBD oil, you can also try CBD edibles, like candies, chocolates, or gummies. The benefits of edibles are that they are easy to dose as the mg of CBD per serving is clearly stated on the package, and their effects can last longer. On the other hand, they take a while to start working as they need to go through your digestive system first before you start feeling the effects.
You can also use CBD pills, which work in a similar way to edibles, or, if you’re into vaping, you can also vape CBD vape liquid. However, vaping CBD is not that sustainable as a treatment option in the long run as the effects fade off sooner and the vape liquid often contains other additives that make it unsuitable for inhalation, so you’d have to be very careful with the ingredients.
Using CBD as medical marijuana for the management of the symptoms of Crohn’s disease is a good idea if you’ve found that the medication you’re taking isn’t helping you or you’re not responding to it well. CBD rarely causes side effects but you should always be careful and ask for medical advice, especially if you’re taking any other prescription medication.
The best way to take CBD oil is to start with a low dose and then gradually increase it as your body gets used to it. Daily CBD doses should never exceed 100 mg.
Atalay S, Jarocka-Karpowicz I, Skrzydlewska E. Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019;9(1):21. Published 2019 Dec 25. doi:10.3390/antiox9010021
FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products: Q&A. (2020). Retrieved 17 December 2020, from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-including-cannabidiol-cbd
Naftali T. An overview of cannabis based treatment in Crohn’s disease. Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Apr;14(4):253-257. doi: 10.1080/17474124.2020.1740590. Epub 2020 Mar 12. PMID: 32149543.