Treating Chron’s Disease Symptoms with Cannabis
Chron’s Disease is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease that affects an estimated 500,000 Americans. The disease is caused by an autoimmune disorder where the body cannot tell the difference between normal tissue and foreign substances. This causes the immune system to work in overdrive and leads to chronic inflammation. For people with Chron’s, this inflammation occurs in the gastrointestinal tract, causing the walls of their intestines to become thicker than normal.
Chron’s may occur at any age, but typically ages 15-35 are most commonly diagnosed. People who smoke, are of Jewish ancestry, or have a history of Chron’s or Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) in their family are at a higher risk of having the disease. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Chron’s. However, by staying on top of treatment, the disease is manageable.
Symptoms can range depending on the location of the inflammation in the intestinal tract. They can include abdominal pain, pain while passing stool, persistent diarrhea, constipation, general fatigue and drastic weight loss. If you suspect that you have Chron’s, a simple stool culture can be taken to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms.
As there is no cure for this disease and it presents itself differently in each patient, treatment can sometimes be tricky. You must be vigilant and aware of your symptoms, adjusting your diet and environmental factors accordingly. During flare-up’s, eat smaller amounts of food throughout the day rather than three large meals. Stay hydrated. Avoid high fiber and greasy foods that cause gas or other intestinal issues. You may also need additional vitamin supplements to keep yourself healthy such as Iron, Calcium and Vitamin B12 to prevent anemia. Try to limit your stress, as this can also cause digestive problems. Medications for Chron’s merely help with the symptoms rather than combat the disease itself. Fiber supplements can help with diarrhea, and patients should always consult their doctor before taking laxative medications. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is suggested for mild pain, since drugs such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen or Naproxen may worsen symptoms. For severe pain, you may ask your physician to prescribe you a stronger pain medication. Corticosteroids, Azathioprine or 6-Mercaptopurine can also be prescribed to help quiet the immune systems response. Antibiotics are often taken for abscesses that form in the intestinal tract. However, when patients do not respond to typical treatments, bowel resection surgery may be required to stop hemorrhaging, fistulas, infections or narrowing of the intestines. It is also important to speak openly with your doctor about Chron’s and its increased risk to develop into small bowel or colon cancer.
Medical Marijuana can treat a myriad of the symptoms caused by Chron’s. Sativa dominant strains have been proven to combat muscle spasticity and could help with controlling how often the intestines contract. Indica dominant strains are great for relaxing the body’s muscles and keeping nausea in check. Speak with your doctor if you suspect you may have Chron’s so that they can steer you in the right direction for treatment.
On our side of things; Grassy Water’s Golden Goat (Hawaiian x Romulan x Island Sweet Skunk) is an excellent choice for people with Chron’s because it is both high in THC but also the cannabinoid CBD. This makes it an excellent strain to fight the inflammation and anxiety caused by this disease. Blue Dream and Blueberry also are great choices if you prefer an indica dominant smoke!