CBD is quickly earning a reputation as a safe, natural, effective way to treat a vast array of medical conditions. But what do we know about CBD and Crohn’s disease? Though research is fairly new, evidence is quickly mounting in favor of using CBD to counter this debilitating disease.
Crohn’s drastically impacts the quality of life for those dealing with the disease. In America alone, around 780,000 people suffer from Crohn’s.
In addition to being extremely painful and disruptive, Crohn’s can also be costly to treat and unresponsive to many medications. Read on to learn more about CBD and its possible effect on symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation of various parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Most often the inflammation occurs in the ileum (the lower portion of the small intestine) and the colon. However, inflammation can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, including the:
- Small intestine
- Large intestine (colon)
Inflammation is an immune response that causes pain, swelling, and redness. It’s a natural response to tissue damage that is meant to ward off pathogens and initiate healing. This response occurs without external causes in Crohn’s.
Crohn’s is an autoimmune condition, meaning that the body’s immune responses inappropriately are directed at its own cells and tissues. This results in chronic, damaging inflammation. When this inflammation is severe enough, it can cause ulcerations and fistulas.
Fistulas are abnormal connections, or tunnels, that connect parts of the digestive system to other organs or structures. They are the result of severe and ongoing internal inflammation or injury. These connections can join sections of intestines together or join the gastrointestinal organs to other body structures, including reproductive organs and skin.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease usually presents very painful and problematic digestive symptoms. These include:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Bloody stool
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Painful sores on the mouth or anus
- Chronic diarrhea
- Frequent and urgent need to move bowels
Crohn’s symptoms cause a great deal of distress and discomfort. Additionally, it adversely affects the lifestyles and daily activities of those who suffer from the disease.
Causes of Crohn’s Disease
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease isn’t entirely clear. What is understood is that Crohn’s is a chronic condition that appears to be caused by an overactive, inappropriate immune response in the gastrointestinal tract.
Instead of destroying pathogens or other foreign substances, the immune system of those with Crohn’s causes destructive inflammation throughout the gastrointestinal system.
Factors influencing the development of Crohn’s are believed to be:
- Hereditary predisposition to the disease
- External environmental factors that set off an inappropriate immune response
- An overactive immune system
The chronically swollen, raw tissue inside the gastrointestinal tract leads to the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid derived from hemp and marijuana. These are plants in the cannabis family. CBD is one of many known cannabinoids found in these plants and has recently garnered much attention due to its long list of therapeutic uses. And, due to the recent signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD from Hemp is now legal everywhere in the United States.
CBD is usually extracted from industrial hemp plants because of their high concentration of the compound. Unlike the other well-known cannabinoid THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, CBD is non-psychoactive. This means it is not mind-altering and causes no “high” in users.
CBD is legal, is not habit forming, and is safe for virtually everyone, even animals.
CBD is frequently administered in oil form. This is a convenient administration method and is well-absorbed by the body as cannabinoids are fat soluble.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
To understand how CBD may be helpful in treating Crohn’s symptoms, an introduction to the endocannabinoid system is necessary.
Our bodies contain a vast network of special receptors that receive chemicals made by the body known as endocannabinoids. These chemicals are used by the body for intercellular communication. Endocannabinoid receptors allow the nervous tissue to communicate with the rest of the body.
This communication is vital to the maintenance of homeostasis. Homeostasis is the maintaining of a delicate internal balance in spite of any changes in the external environment.
Endocannabinoids and Cannabinoids
Every body system includes endocannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoids prompt many functions and processes via these receptors. Cannabinoids from cannabis plants, such as CBD and THC, fit into and stimulate endocannabinoid receptors. Reactions from this stimulation are often valuable for the treatment of disease.
The mechanisms of action for CBD in the body are extensive. CBD has been shown to:
- Reduce inflammatory response by suppressing cytokine release
- Slow the growth and spread of certain tumors and cancer cells by blocking key receptors and oncogenes
- Increase serotonin receptor sensitivity for improvement in patients with anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions
- Activate adenosine receptors to dilate arteries in heart attack patients
- Reduce seizures by influencing intercellular calcium levels and the GPR55 receptor
- Inhibit enzymes that destroy the body’s natural beneficial endocannabinoids, such as the endocannabinoid anandamide
It’s worth mentioning that anandamide seems to play a crucial role in regulating gut inflammation, motility, and sensation. Inhibiting the destruction of this important endocannabinoid renders more of it available for receptor stimulation. This may explain some of the therapeutic effects of CBD oil for Crohn’s disease.
CBD and Crohn’s Disease
CBD may reduce the symptoms of Crohn’s disease in several ways. In addition to boosting anandamide availability, it may also stimulate other endocannabinoid receptors, namely the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
These receptors are abundant throughout the gastrointestinal tract. A serving of CBD may stimulate these receptors to reduce:
- Visceral pain
- Problematic intestinal motility
- Gastrointestinal secretions
CBD may also alleviate inflammation by reducing cytokine release. Cytokines are communication chemicals used by the immune system to mount a response that results in inflammation. However, current studies show that in the case of Crohn’s disease, CBD works mainly on endocannabinoid receptors to reduce symptoms, not necessarily the inflammation itself.
CBD Oil for Crohn’s
Many ailments have shown improvement after beginning use of CBD and Crohn’s disease may be yet another to add to the list. It is a legitimate, legal way to address symptoms so that those who suffer from Crohn’s can have a better quality of life. And, all the products available through our website are CBD products derived from Hemp, which again, are legal everywhere and does not have enough THC to cause anyone to experience any sort of “high”.