Crohn’s Disease

Crohn's disease is a severe intestinal disorder typified by sluggish digestion that can lead to total failure of GI reflexes. Intestinal bleeding can occur, and in many cases large sections of the intestines are removed in later stages. While cortisone (a steroid) and other noxious drugs may provide symptomatic relief in short-term therapy, there is no known cure for the disease and there is no pleasant prognosis in long-t erm treatment. Cannabis is found helpful in the management of Crohn's disease, not only as it is known to induce a healthy appetite through the endocannabinoid system, but more importantly, by reducing the swelling of irritated tissues.

In 2008, a team of researchers in Switzerland isolated a little-known compound in cannabis called beta-caryophyllene from oily resin in Cannabis sativa L. buds. The scientists induced an immune attack in laboratory mice, then fed the cannabis compound to the rodents. After the mice ate the extract, their inflammation went down. The team then demonstrated that beta-caryophyllene works by turning on CB2 cannabinoid receptors, known to reduce swelling, pain and inflammation. The compound is structurally different from anti-inflammatory medications now on the market, and it provides a novel approach for those who suffer from Crohn’s and other immune diseases.. Unlike THC, a cannabis compound with similar anti-inflammatory properties, beta-caryophyllene does not affect CB1 receptors in the brain, and thus has no psychoactive effect whatsoever. [1]

“Crohn’s disease, characterized by intestinal inflammation, is another example of a Th1-mediated disease. Anecdotal reports of beneficial marijuana use for this disease gain support by examining modern pharmaceutical approaches. Down-regulation of Th1 effectors has produced dramatic results in the treatment of this disease. New immuno-therapeutic strategies that treat Crohn’s disease with antitumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha) antibodies, have induced complete remissions and few side effects. THC has been shown to inhibit THF-alpha. Thus, the same therapeutic targets of the newest pharmaceuticals are acted upon by one of nature’s oldest medicines.”[2]

[1] “Curative leaf - Compound in marijuana reduces inflammation without the psychological effects” Amy Maxmen, Science News, June 23rd, 2008

[2] Grotenhermen, Russo. Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutic Potential . New York: The Hawthorn Integrative Healing Press, 2002, Melamede, “Possible Mechanisms in Autoimmune Diseases.” Chapter 10, p.113