IBD or Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a term that is used to understand Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Both the disorders are associated with chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal or digestive tract. Because Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis represent IBD, it is wise to understand them in brief.
According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), around 780,000 Americans are suffering from Crohn’s disease. The key symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, blood in your stool, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and feeling a frequent need for bowel movements. Ulcerative Colitis is a condition where the lining of the large intestine develops ulcers. Cramping belly pain, sudden urge to poop, weight loss, feeling tired, fever, dehydration, joint pain or soreness, and canker sores are some of its symptoms. The difference between Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis is that while the former can affect any place on the digestive tract, the latter only affects the large intestines.
What causes IBD is still unknown. But based on the current research reports, it is a result of a poor immune system. In some cases, IBD may also be genetic. While diet and stress may aggravate the situation with inflammatory bowel disease, they are definitely not the reason for it in the first place. A person may develop IBD because of their age, race or ethnicity, family history, cigarette smoking, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of IBD
There can be several symptoms associated with IBD but the most common include a combination of symptoms in Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis depending on which disorder you have. If you have already visited your doctor and know whether you have Crohn’s disease or its counterpart, you can go forward with the right treatment. If you are unsure, then doing the right diagnosis is crucial. You would need to have endoscopy and colonoscopy for Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis respectively. Other than that you may also need magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), contrast radiography, or computed tomography (CT) scan for imaging studies.
Medical Cannabis as an Alternative Treatment
Cannabis is thought to have some gastrointestinal effects such as a reduction in visceral pain, relaxation of the esophageal sphincter, and a decrease in gastric motility and secretions. In a 2014 study of the 319 Canadian patients with IBD, 91% self-reported that they had improvements in symptoms with cannabis use. One astonishing detail that was noted was that 17.6% of the patients reported lifetime use of cannabis for IBD. While 83.9% and 76.% announced an improvement in abdominal pain and cramp respectively, 48.2% saw an improvement in joint pain. Even symptoms of diarrhea improved in 28.6% of the patients.
In a second study published in 2013 by Jessica Ravikoff Allegretti, MD et al., it was observed that a significant number of patients with IBD who consumed marijuana also found it out to be effective in controlling symptoms. The researchers surveyed a total of 292 patients. Out of the 12.3% were active cannabis users; 39% consumed at some point in the past; 48.6% of the patients never had cannabis at any phase in their lives. 16.4% of the patients among those who were active users or had it in the past mentioned that they used it to control the symptoms and the majority found it out to be effective.