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Crohn’s Disease and Marijuana: Efficacy, Research and Dosing

Crohn’s Disease is a terribly aggravating autoimmune illness, manifested by everyday troubles that can break the spirit of even the toughest individual.

Battling this sickness requires time and extreme patience, but numerous studies have shown that cannabis can have truly wonderful effects in aiding Crohn’s patients.

First and foremost, we should further elaborate on what exactly is Crohn’s Disease, and what are the main symptoms surrounding this illness.

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s Disease is an inflammatory bowel disease, for which the cause unfortunately hasn’t been identified yet.

The most frequent manifestation is the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (GI), and usually the most affected area is the ileum, which is located at the end of the small intestine and in the beginning of the colon.

The most accepted theory to date is that the cause is in direct correlation with genetic flaws that distort the programming of the immune system and that these flaws can be brought about by various outside factors and influences.

As previously mentioned above, the biggest issue with Crohn’s Disease is the constant inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. While inflamed, the stomach is unable to absorb all the necessary nutrients humans require to function properly.

This symptom is also called wasting, because all the solid foods and liquids just pass through the organism, causing really serious damage, with the accompanying relentless weight loss.

The main symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

The symptoms can differ depending on what part of the GI tract is affected, but the most frequent include:

Pharmaceuticals vs cannabis in treating Crohn’s disease?

Mainstream pharmaceutical drugs tackle Crohn’s by trying to prevent the inflammation by restraining the immune system from constantly attacking the GI tract. This is a common medical treatment, but in the case of Crohn’s disease, it is not very effective.

On the other hand, cannabinoids (active chemical compounds in cannabis), prevent the immune system from discharging inflammatory proteins and instead activate proteins that battle the inflammation.

The reason behind this occurrence lies in the fact that the human body possesses a great number of cannabinoid receptors throughout the GI tract, in the network called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is constructed out of cell receptors, their matching molecules, and the proteins that create and dissolve these molecules.

Cannabinoid receptors are particularly located on cells that are in charge of immunity, which exemplifies how valuable the endocannabinoid system is for maintaining overall immune function.

This study shows that, while under inflammation from various irritable bowel diseases, the human body produces a smaller amount of endocannabinoids than usual and that some cannabinoid receptors are unregulated, which is a sign that the GI tract desires a greater cannabinoid input. (1)

Even though the direct correlation between Crohn’s Disease and the effect the endocannabinoid system has on it is still distant from absolute comprehension, the discoveries so far indicate that the therapies which include cannabinoids are quite effective in sending this illness into remission.

Which cannabinoids help with Crohn’s disease?

The most important cannabinoids for battling Crohn’s Disease are THC and CBD. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is in charge of pain relief, suppressing spasms, while also significantly increasing the patient’s appetite.

On the other hand, Cannabidiol (CBD) is in charge of reducing inflammation, causes relaxation and general sedation, while also lowering anxiety and stress, which is more than useful for Crohn’s Disease patients who experience frequent stomach spasms and excruciating pain in the general abdomen region.

Most cannabis strains usually have a far greater concentration of THC in comparison to CBD, and because high levels of THC also brings about euphoria and possible anxiety and paranoia, patients should consume strains that also have a large quantity of CBD (besides THC), regardless of whether they smoke marijuana or use one of the other ways of ingesting cannabinoids, like vaping, oils or edibles.

CBD also offers great assistance by attacking bacterial infections which are relatively common in people who struggle with continual GI inflammations.

It should be noted that finding strains with large doses of CBD can be quite difficult in countries that haven’t yet legislated the use of medical marijuana.

According to a study done by the Meir Medical Center and Sackler Faculty of Medicine in Israel, 45% of the tested subjects had “total remission” of their Crohn’s Disease after receiving 115mg of THC per day for a total of 8 weeks. (2)

Also, a great example of treating Crohn’s Disease is Mara Gordon, who’s a specialist on treating serious illnesses with cannabis, with an experience of over 600 patients under her belt.

In her opinion, the optimal dosage of cannabinoids for Crohns’s Disease is 30 mg of THC and 15 mg of CBD per day, although this will be pretty hard to achieve with most strains.

5 best cannabis strains for Crohn’s disease

Before we jump into the exact process of figuring out the dosage, check out the top 5 strains for treating Crohn’s Disease. These strains all fall under the high CBD strains category and should provide a good ratio of both THC and CBD. Remember that the whole plant remedy is better than single molecules (for example, whole plant extract is more powerful than just pure CBD oil), as it contains a variety of terpenes, which aid the cannabinoids in breaking the blood-brain barrier.

CBD Mango Haze (THC 8%, CBD 12%)

CBD Mango Haze is one of our top picks, as it offers almost a 2:1 CBD to THC ratio, leaving you clear headed but pain free. You can count that it will get you medicated, uplifted and motivated, with a significant reduction in inflammation over time. Its aroma is fruity and peppery and the high is pretty mellow.

Chemo (THC 18%, CBD 20%)

As the name suggests, Chemo offers heavy sedation, and it’s perfect for cramps and muscle spasms that frequently plague Crohn Disease patients. This is, also, one of the few strains that offer a therapeutically perfect 1:1 THC vs CBD ratio.

Harlequin OG (THC 10%, CBD 30%)

With high levels of both CBD and THC, Harlequin is truly amazing for both pain and stress, because large amounts of CBD can battle the exhilaration provided by THC. Even though this is a Sativa dominant hybrid, Harlequin OG is sure to tackle even the gnarliest of Crohn’s symptoms.

Hash Plant (THC 13%, CBD 19%)

Amazing for both inflammation and pain, Hash Plant has a powerful body effect, while also affecting the mind with gentle euphoria. Packing on the same 50/50 cannabinoid ratio, Hash Plant found its use in numerous medicinal cases, including Crohn’s disease.

Sour Tsunami (THC 10%, CBD 11%)

Another great strain for abolishing spasms and cramps, Sour Tsunami is a 50/50 Indica Sativa hybrid. With its parents being Sour Diesel and NYC Diesel, this strains is also very adequate for patients with pain and stress as well as the kids, as it offers minimal psychoactive effects.

Self administering cannabis for Crohn’s disease

My first advice is to get an actual doctor to look at your case and prescribe a proper cannabis dosage. If you are, however, living in an area where you don’t have a doctor nearby, or you’re growing your own plants, read on.

Figuring out the proper therapeutic cannabis dosage is pretty difficult for beginner users, but is, fortunately, easily explained.

If you buy, for example, two grams of Harlequin OG, you will get the exact THC and CBD content information on the label itself.

Remember: studies have shown that Crohn’s disease patients could benefit from 30-100 mg of THC and 30-60 mg of CBD per day.

Let’s illustrate an example.

Harlequin OG has around 10% of THC and 30% CBD.

Considering that 1 gram = 1,000 mg, and using a simple percentage calculator, we can calculate that we would need to smoke exactly 0.4 grams of Harlequin OG every day, to get the biggest benefits.

To repeat the process I used:

  1. Find out what are the THC and CBD percentages of your strain.
  2. Go to Percentage Calculator.
  3. Type in the THC percentage of your strain in the first box.
  4. Type in the weight (in milligrams) in the second box.
  5. Play with the milligram number until the results are 30-100
  6. The result in the second box is exactly how much weed you need every day in milligrams

Like with any other topic, the opinions of whether cannabis provides a relief from the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease are pretty subjective. However, studies have shown that Crohn’s Disease can be positively affected, or placed entirely under remission by precisely dosing the right cannabis strain.

Whether you go down this green route is entirely up to you.

References

  1. Goyal H, Singla U, Gupta U, May E; Role of cannabis in digestive disorders; European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology; February 2017;29(2):135-143
  2. Naftali T, Bar-Lev Schleider L, Dotan I, Lansky EP, Sklerovsky Benjaminov F, Konikoff FM; Cannabis induces a clinical response in patients with Crohn’s disease: a prospective placebo-controlled study; Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology; October 2013;11(10):1276-1280