The Impact Cannabis Has On Ulcerative Colitis

IBD affects over 1.6 million Americans.

The Impact Cannabis Has On Ulcerative Colitis
Photo by Flickr user manuel m. v.

Do you know what IBD stands for and/or what it means? If not, this article will fill you in. IBD is short for inflammatory bowel disease, and it’s an umbrella term that covers two medical conditions—ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease. So far, as many as 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with IBD, and most people are aware of this diagnosis before age thirty. In the U.S. ulcerative colitis is more common than Crohn’s Disease. However, each of these medical conditions are painful and chronic in most cases. Although ulcerative colitis is more prevalent amongst adults, it affects children as well.

Each year, anywhere between 2-14 individuals are diagnosed with ulcerative colitis per 100,000 individuals. Nowadays, there are different treatment methods for ulcerative colitis, and cannabis is one of those. Read on to find out the impact cannabis has on ulcerative colitis and how it can help patients with this condition.

About Ulcerative Colitis And Its Causes

Before learning about about ulcerative colitis, it’s important to understand what colitis is. Colitis is a medical condition that affects the body’s rectum and colon. As a result, this causes a variety of uncomfortable symptoms and side effects. In general, colitis refers to inflammation that occurs within the body’s colon. There are different types of colitis, but the most common form is ulcerative colitis. In particular, around 907,000 Americans are affected by ulcerative colitis. To find out which type of colitis you have, it depends on your specific symptoms. Furthermore, the main types of colitis include ulcerative colitis, ischemic colitis, microscopic colitis, and pseudomembranous colitis.

Out of these types of colitis, ulcerative colitis is one of the most frequently diagnosed forms. Ulcerative colitis normally begins in the body’s rectum before spreading into the colon, which then creates bleeding ulcers and inflammation. Typically, ulcerative colitis is a life-long condition. Some physicians and scientists believe that ulcerative colitis happens when the body’s immune system overreacts to certain substances within the digestive tract. Overall, though, ulcerative colitis is a painful and uncomfortable condition that interrupts people’s daily routine and usual activities. There are different symptoms of colitis and ulcerative colitis, but the main ones include the following: anemia, dehydration, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, abdominal pain and cramping, joint pain, appetite loss, nausea, rectal pain and bleeding, weight loss, urgency to defecate, and/or inability to defecate despite urgency. In most cases, ulcerative colitis patients experience relatively mild to moderate symptoms, but each case is different.

Current Ulcerative Colitis Treatments

Currently, there are various ulcerative colitis treatment options available such as steroid medicines, suppositories, dietary changes, over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications, biologic treatments, and surgery. However, many patients require treatment for their symptoms rather than for the condition itself. Over the years though, cannabis has made itself known for its ability to provide relief to colitis sufferers.

Cannabis As An Ulcerative Colitis Treatment

In a 2011 study, it was found that 51 percent of ulcerative colitis patients were regular cannabis users. In the same study, 33 percent reported that they’ve used cannabis to help treat their colitis symptoms. It has also been found that naturally-present endocannabinoids can help limit intestinal inflammation. Additionally, cannabinoids like Cannabidiol (CBD) contain anti-inflammatory properties, which can deliver substantial relief to ulcerative colitis patients. Although cannabis can alleviate colitis symptoms, it doesn’t cure the condition.

Regardless, different cannabinoids are used to alleviate ulcerative colitis symptoms. According to one study, cannabinoids can prevent abnormal movement within the body’s large intestine while also preventing secretion and reducing inflammation. Pain is a very common colitis symptom, and due to cannabis’s analgesic properties, it can be effectively relieved. Several traditional ulcerative colitis medications can result in appetite loss, nausea, and vomiting. Fortunately though, cannabis acts as both a nausea-reliever and appetite stimulator.

Aside from cannabinoids, it has been found that endocannabinoids could play an essential role in limiting intestinal inflammation. Since inflammation is closely associated with ulcerative colitis, the usage of cannabis and derivatives of it could deliver much-needed relief.

In recent years, throughout different U.S. states, ulcerative colitis has been added onto medical cannabis lists of qualifying conditions. Therefore, qualifying ulcerative colitis patients can legally benefit from cannabis’s medicinal properties and benefits.

Overall, an ulcerative colitis diagnosis can result in people struggling to keep a job, maintain solid relationships and friendships, and even execute daily tasks without a painful flare-up or uncomfortable symptoms. However, medical cannabis can serve as a helping hand and reliever of many distressing ulcerative colitis symptoms without adverse side effects. Next time you experience pain, inflammation, nausea, appetite loss, or fatigue caused by a form of colitis, give cannabis a chance, and see what it can do for you!

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