Science

Marijuana May Smoke Out Crohn's Disease Symptoms

By Hilda Scott , May 16, 2013 01:47 PM EDT
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Crohn's Disease treatment in the form of medical marijuana may result in a complete remission of symptoms in some people. A new study researched the effects of marijuana on this chronic condition that affects the digestive tract.

Symptoms of the bowel condition include persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal cramps and pain. Crohn's Disease can also cause severe vomiting, weight loss and arthritis. The feeling of low energy and fatigue is also common among people who suffer from Crohn's Disease. Medical marijuana used as treatment has a significant effect on the symptoms of Crohn's Disease, according to a new study.

In the very first placebo-controlled trial, researchers found that medical marijuana can reduce the symptoms of Crohn's disease or eliminate them all together. Results of the study were published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Researchers from Meir Medical Center in Israel studied 21 male and female patients who were diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and whose treatment was unresponsive. Crohn's disease is sometimes treated with steroids.

The patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group received two cannabis cigarettes twice a day, containing 11.5 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These are the standard cigarettes available at medical marijuana dispensaries in cities like San Francisco.

The other group received a placebo of just cannabis flowers that contained no THC. During the 8 weeks of treatment, disease symptoms and lab tests were analyzed by the researchers. When the trial ended, the participants were followed up with for 2 additional weeks.

Results showed that 5 out of 11 (45 percent) patients from the group that received cannabis had a complete remission of symptoms of Crohn's disease. Another 5 out of the 11 had their symptoms reduced by half. The calculations were based each patients' Crohn's Disease Activity Index (CDAI), a tool used by researchers to quantify symptoms of the disease. "subjects receiving cannabis reported improved appetite and sleep, with no significant side effects," wrote the authors of the study. 

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