Inflammatory bowel diseases are some of the most common digestive disorders related to intestinal inflammation that many people worldwide are struggling with. For some, the symptoms can be managed with lifestyle and dietary changes and some medication, but for most, medication may not be enough.
Additionally, not everyone’s immune system responds well to conventional therapy and people often experience side effects, leading them to search for an alternative solution, such as medical cannabis products.
CBD is now a well-known anti-inflammatory agent and has been used in many forms to treat various conditions ranging from mood disorders, like anxiety, to reduced appetite, as well as chronic pain relief.
For these reasons, CBD is considered to have a therapeutic value for providing relief from the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, which is what we’ll talk about in this article, and we’ll give you tips on how to dose it.
CBD – The Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoid
Marijuana has been used for thousands of years in folk medicine for the treatment of various ailments. Throughout history, people have recognized its medicinal potential, but they generally used the whole plant because they didn’t have the tools we have today. Luckily, nowadays, certain beneficial compounds like phytocannabinoids and terpenes can be extracted to produce a more concentrated form of the medicine.
CBD (cannabinol) is one of the main cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, but unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it’s not psychoactive. It’s much milder and better tolerated, with minimal chances of causing side effects. CBD is present in a much higher concentration in the industrial Cannabis sativa plant, also known as hemp plant, which is often used to produce CBD hemp oils, tinctures, and CBD-infused topicals.
CBD In the Body
CBD is not intoxicating because it doesn’t interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the same way that THC does. It doesn’t bind to the same cannabinoid receptors but delivers its benefits by interacting with other receptors that have a role in the immune system and inflammatory response.
When it comes to medical marijuana, CBD-derived products are used very often due to its already established anti-inflammatory effects. (Atalay et al, 2019) Therefore, in recent years, there have been reports from users that CBD could improve the common symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), including Crohn’s disease.
Even though research on cannabis use for this condition is somewhat limited, there have been a number of clinical and pre-clinical trials that provide some direction for the treatment of Crohn’s.
Crohn’s Disease Is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Just like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease falls under the umbrella of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) that affect the digestive tract. It’s characterized by a chronic inflammation of the walls of the small intestine. The symptoms of this disease are similar to most symptoms of IBDs, and they include abdominal pain and cramping, loss of appetite resulting in weight loss, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and fatigue.
Crohn’s disease symptoms are caused by swelling and irritation in the gastrointestinal tract and the disease activity ranges in severity depending on the location of the inflammation. The symptoms may be triggered by different things, from stress in the nervous system to certain food ingredients. Individuals may go for months experiencing nearly no symptoms and then a flare-up may occur seemingly out of nowhere and disrupt their daily lives.
This disease is not considered an autoimmune disease, and scientists still have trouble placing it in a category. But even though there is still a lot left to learn about it, what we know so far is that the biggest factors that can aggravate the symptoms are stress and diet.
The conventional treatment most often includes immunosuppressant medications, as well as anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and corticosteroids. Some of these medications often produce unpleasant side effects that are not sustainable for the long-term quality of life of the patient.
How Can CBD Oil Help?
Because of the limited research regarding CBD and hemp oil, specifically, most human studies on Crohn’s disease were conducted with cannabis, rather than just CBD.
One study included 30 participants with Crohn’s disease who needed a different treatment to manage their active symptoms. The results of the trial indicated that there were significant improvements in their symptoms, with 21 out of 30 participants feeling a lot better. Before the study, 26 of the individuals were taking corticosteroids as their main therapy, but after the treatment with cannabis, only 4 of them needed this medication.
Another placebo-controlled study on Chron’s disease that used cannabis had recruited 21 participants who failed to respond to conventional treatment, immunomodulators specifically. Half of them were taking a placebo and the other half were given cannabis. The study lasted for eight weeks, after which the cannabis group reported they were no longer dependent on their medication, and had additional improvements with their sleep and appetite.
What Potency Do You Need?
As always, it’s recommended to start with the lowest most effective dose. Even though CBD is fairly well tolerated, as we mentioned, you don’t want to oversaturate yourself from the beginning. It’s best to take into account the severity of your symptoms, how your body reacts, and your individual tolerance.
Sometimes you’ll need to adjust the dose according to your needs in the moment. Roughly, you’ll want to take between 25 mg to 50 mg for mild digestive issues, and if you’re experiencing severe symptoms, you’ll need about 100 mg CBD oil per day.
Using a full-spectrum CBD oil is often considered to be the most effective. Instead of just CBD, the full-spectrum oil contains other cannabinoids, including THC (but in a very small percentage, less than 0.3) because of their synergistic effect. This means that they work together to enhance the overall health benefits you get from CBD.
You can also use the broad-spectrum CBD oil, which is basically the same, but without the THC, or even CBD isolate, which is just the CBD. Ultimately, the best CBD oil is the one that is most suitable for your individual symptoms.
How to Take CBD Oil for Crohn’s Disease
CBD oil is best taken sublingually, meaning you put the drops under your tongue and wait for the oil to be absorbed through the skin. This process usually takes about 30 minutes after which you should feel the effects of CBD and an improvement in your symptoms that will last for several hours. It’s advisable to divide your daily CBD dosage into several smaller ones and take them at different intervals throughout the day.
Other Ways to Consume CBD
Other popular ways for CBD consumption are edibles (like gummies or candies) and capsules. These products are also convenient because they are easy for dosing, however, the effects will take a while to kick in. The reason for this is because edibles and capsules need to go through your digestive system first before they start working. On the other hand, the effects may last as long as 8-10 hours.
If you want something that works faster, you can try CBD vape oil, which is used with a vaporizer and can provide you with almost immediate relief when you face sudden pain. The vapor takes only a few minutes to enter the bloodstream because it’s absorbed through the lungs. However, with this method, the effects last two hours at most, so it’s not as suitable as a longer-lasting option.
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD make it a good candidate as a treatment option for individuals who suffer from Crohn’s disease, and who experience side effects with conventionally given therapy. This disease can impair the quality of life of patients, which is why CBD products are worth trying.
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 26 November 2020, from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-including-cannabidiol-cbd