CBD and the Gut: A Cure for Crohn’s?

A fellow scientist and friend of mine suffers from Crohn’s disease, which is a lifelong inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can cause severe belly pain and chronic diarrhea. In the last few years I’ve gotten acquainted with how this condition can affect one’s life. Not only did he have life threatening incidents due to this condition, he continually suffered from a variety of side effects from the pharmaceuticals that were supposed to help. When he learned I was researching and writing a book about how CBD helps various conditions, including Crohn’s, he decided to research and try dosing CBD for himself. I’m happy to report that he is almost completely off his pharmaceutical drugs and almost completely relieved of his symptoms by simply using this plant medicine.

According to a new study, cannabis oil can “significantly” improve Crohn’s disease symptoms.

“Studies have shown that many people with Crohn’s disease use cannabis regularly to relieve their symptoms,” Dr. Timna Naftali, an Israeli gastroenterologist who also teaches at Tel Aviv University. [i]

Dr. Naftali, whose study is being billed as the first of its kind, found that an eight-week treatment with cannabis oil containing a four to one CBD to THC ratio produced clinical remission in up to 65 per cent of individuals with Crohn’s disease. The randomized, placebo-controlled study involved 46 people with moderately severe forms of the disease. The group that received cannabis oil also reported significant improvements in their quality of life.

It’s not just people who are affected by IBD who can benefit from CBD. Many other gut conditions can be relieved as well.

Understanding how the endocannabinoid system fits into the digestion equation offers a way for us to control our food intake. The endocannabinoid system is a safety net, because it’s heavily involved in controlling our attraction to high-energy foods. In the gut, during and after a meal, we release what are called peptides from our small intestines, and these basically stop us from eating more. Peptides tell us that we’re full. We’ve recently found that endocannabinoid receptors, which line the inside and the outside of the intestines, can produce these peptides.

When people eat a higher-fat diet, for example, this creates a preference for high-energy foods. In modern environments where food is plentiful, however, this can lead to an excess of signals in the brain that lead to compulsive eating and promote obesity.

The endocannabinoid system also controls movement of food throughout the intestines, which can either speed up or slow down our metabolism. With a slow metabolism, inflammation can set in. Inflammation leads to a lot of disease conditions, everything from diabetes to heart disease to cancer. When we’re under constant emotional stress, the reality is that homeostasis is hard to achieve.

Image Credit: CannaInsider

The American diet is very pro-inflammatory. A healthy human diet is one that weighs more heavily toward anti-inflammatory compounds. Our diet is also poor in fruits and vegetables, particularly ones with bioactive compounds, pigmented plants with bioflavonoids that help reduce the risk of cancer and balance the bacteria in our guts. We’ve lost our anti-inflammatory diet use of fermented foods, prebiotics and vegetable matter that feed the good bacteria.

For this reason, inflammation almost always results in a cascade reaction from which it’s almost impossible to recover.

Once a person’s endocannabinoid system is in order, it returns to a needed state of homeostasis. If you’re overweight or underweight, endocannabinoids can help you regulate your body so that you can find the right balance.

While we know for certain that our endocannabinoid receptors help us choose the food we eat and process the food in our bodies, as well as lessen inflammation throughout the body, scientists still have a lot of work to do. Studies like Naftali’s are just starting to emerge to explain where we have to go to reap all of the benefits of CBD. But what we do know is that being able to control the endocannabinoid system could allow people to make better choices, control eating disorders and ensure that we have stronger and healthier metabolisms, and, as a result, happier and healthier lives

— Klee

[i] Naftali, T., Schleider, L. B. L., Dotan, I., Lansky, E. P., Benjaminov, F. S., & Konikoff, F. M. (2013). Cannabis induces a clinical response in patients with Crohn’s disease: a prospective placebo-controlled study. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology11(10), 1276–1280.