We all know that feeling. You know, the one in the pit of your stomach just below your belly button that feels like Alien is about to come ripping out into your lap. The feeling you so conveniently get when you’re stuck in rush hour traffic and have absolutely nowhere to go. I have found that undoing your belt and unbuttoning your pants while lifting your butt off the car seat coupled with a slight 20° tilt to the right alleviates a bit of the urge to just crap yourself. Give it a try next time. But now imagine having that feeling ALL the time! Welcome to the life of someone suffering from severe Crohn’s Disease. As you can imagine, it’s not fun, in fact, it totally sucks.

Crohn’s Disease belongs to a group of conditions known as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s most commonly affects the end of the small bowel (the ileum) and the beginning of the colon, but it may affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus. Crohn’s disease can also affect the entire thickness of the bowel wall resulting in one big, constant nightmare. But, guess what. There’s one organic medication that has been having remarkable results in Crohn’s Disease treatment, marijuana.

Oh wow, what a surprise! You mean to tell me that doctors have found yet another successful medical use for cannabis? You mean to tell me that marijuana can actually HELP even more people than we originally thought? Wow, who could have ever seen that one coming? Oh I don’t know, just about ALL OF US!

Just have a look at some of these symptoms:

  • Persistent Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Urgent need to move bowels
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Sensation of incomplete evacuation
  • Constipation (can lead to bowel obstruction)

Rectal bleeding?! PERSISTENT Diarrhea?! Could you imagine two worse symptoms? And yet the wonderful marijuana plant has blessed us with a treatment once again for even the worst ailments. The list of medical uses for the marijuana plant continues to grow and although more and more states are lifting its regulation on a medical level, it’s still a shock to see with so many proven medical uses that marijuana is still not accepted as a true treatment option nationwide. WAKE UP GOVERNMENT! Or maybe we should revisit this topic with those who are against medical marijuana the next time they are stuck in rush hour traffic and have Alien trying to rip out of their stomach.

But How Exactly Does Marijuana Stop People From Crapping Themselves?

Well, let’s get a little scientific. Your body produces substances called Endocannabinoids or Endogenous Cannabinoids, which function in a similar manner to Cannabinoids found in medicinal marijuana. Cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 are found in the nervous system, including the enteric nervous system (which assists in controlling gut function), and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been found essential to maintaining proper gut function, sensation, and inflammation. Cannabinoids, either produced within the body or taken from medical marijuana, are showing effects beneficial to patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Treatment of Crohn’s Disease and IBS requires prevention of flare-ups, healing of the gastrointestinal tract where damage has occurred, treatment of symptoms, and relaxation of intestinal spasms. And patients using medical cannabis are reporting relief from all of these!

Both CB1 and CB2 receptors are found in the cells lining the inner space of the colon, with CB1 receptor activation tasked with preventing overstimulation of the intestinal movement and secretion which can be caused by excessive inflammation. It can, therefore, reduce the likelihood of diarrhea. When CB2 receptors are activated, the number of T-cells decreases. Additionally, fewer white blood cells, including T-cells, are called to the site of damage or potential damage resulting in reduced inflammation. Pretty incredible right?

Numbers Don’t Lie

In 2011, Timna Naftali, MD, and a team of researchers at the Institute of Gastroenterology at Tel Aviv University in Israel published the first report on cannabis for Crohn’s disease. Their study included 30 people with Crohn’s who were treated with marijuana. 70 percent of the study’s participants improved significantly — needing less medication and less surgery than before using marijuana. The authors of the study, published in the Israel Medical Association Journal, concluded that cannabis for Crohn’s disease has a positive effect, but noted the need for further studies.

So, Dr. Naftali did it again publishing the first placebo-controlled trial of cannabis for Crohn’s Disease in the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association in October, 2013. The study included 21 people with Crohn’s Disease with no response to traditional medication used to treat Crohn’s. Eleven of the 21 participants were given marijuana cigarettes high in THC while the other 10 were given placebo cigarettes with the THC removed. After eight weeks, they discovered:

  • The average Crohn’s Disease activity score (CDAI) went down by about 177 points in the marijuana group, compared to 66 points in the placebo group.
  • Complete remission of symptoms was seen in 45% of the marijuana group and only 10% in the placebo group.
  • A significant response was seen in 90% of the marijuana group and only 40% in the placebo group.
  • People in the marijuana group reported better sleep and appetite with no significant side effects.

So what have we learned here? Well, besides learning that marijuana is awesome because we already knew that, we learned that the government really needs to consider a nationwide acceptance of medical marijuana practices because it works. Plain and simple.

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