Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Unlike similar IBDs, like Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s can affect any part of the GI tract – from the mouth to the esophagus to the anus – though it is most frequently found in the colon and the last portion of the small intestine, known as the ileum. Common symptoms of Crohn’s include fatigue, abdominal pain, severe diarrhea (sometimes bloody), weight loss, and malnutrition. These symptoms typically develop gradually, but can come on suddenly. Those between the ages of 15-35 are most commonly affected though older and younger people are still susceptible to the disease.
In younger patients, Crohn’s may impede growth and sexual development. The precise cause of the disease remains unknown, though it is believed a combination of heredity, malfunctioning immune system, and environment play a significant role. Inflammation occurs naturally in the gut as a result of the immune system responding to foreign threats, such as a virus or pathogenic bacteria. In people with Crohn’s, this immune response targets harmless bacteria in the gut causing inflammation that becomes persistent and leads to ulceration and thickening of the intestinal wall. Over time other symptoms can form, with the inflamed intestinal lining prohibiting proper gut function, and decreased water and nutrient absorption during digestion. Up to 780,000 Americans alone may suffer from Crohn’s, with those of eastern European descent most commonly presenting the disease.
No cure exists for Crohn’s, nor does a definitive treatment that induces remission. Some doctors recommend lifestyle and diet changes or prescribe drugs including anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids, immune suppressors, or a combination of these medications. While this works for some, others resist such treatments, or experience harsh side-effects as a result of them. As laws and public opinion begin to change in the U.S., cannabis has been viewed as an effective and safe alternative to traditional routes. For thousands of years, cannabis has been used to treat inflammation and pain, with research catching up to provide scientific explanations for such benefits.
Tikun Olam has led the way in these efforts, carrying out the world’s first placebo-controlled, double blind study that observed the effects of cannabis in patients with Crohn’s. Dr. Timna Naftali and her team gave our proprietary strain Erez to patients with the goal of inducing complete remission of their Crohn’s. After 8 weeks, researchers found that 45% of the test population did in fact achieve complete remission, with an additional 90% reporting a significant improvement in their quality of life. Pain levels were reduced, appetites increased, and of the patients taking steroids at the beginning of the experiment, all managed to wean themselves off the drugs.