Can You Use CBD for Crohn’s Disease? What the Science Says
Crohn’s disease is an uncomfortable or painful gastrointestinal condition that affects at least 3 million Americans according to the Journal of Gastrology. Noting the apparent usefulness of cannabinoids in treating other conditions, scientists have tentatively begun researching the utility of CBD for Crohn’s disease.
Human trials have offered varied results so far, but the theoretical and lab research is sound. There are clear chemical pathways by which CBD might exert a beneficial effect on Crohn’s disease, and CBD is only one cannabinoid among dozens that might show usefulness against gastrointestinal inflammatory conditions.
In this review of the available evidence, we’ll cover the most recent studies on CBD and Crohn’s disease while also giving consideration to older research on the subject. By the end, you’ll be well-equipped to make your own conclusions on the usefulness of CBD for Crohn’s disease based on a thorough understanding of the data.
CBD for Crohn's Disease: Overview
1. CBD is believed to have an impact on inflammation
2. Crohn’s disease is, first and foremost, an inflammatory condition
This provides the initial theoretical framework for CBD’s usefulness against Crohn’s disease
3. Not all human trials have shown CBD to be effective against Crohn’s disease
4. Limitations of the studies must be taken into consideration, though
5. The overwhelming bulk of evidence suggests that using CBD for Crohn’s disease should be taken more seriously in a medical setting
Most Recent Research on CBD for Crohn's Disease
2022: Cannabinoid Therapeutic Effects in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
This study proves that cannabinoids are now being considered more seriously within the realm of medical science. In most cases, CBD is being viewed as an “adjuvant therapy,” meaning a secondary type of medicine applied along with a mainline treatment.
This doesn’t diminish the role of CBD; rather, it shows that CBD can work in a synergistic way with other substances. The authors of this particular meta-analysis found that CBD “may increase the chances of success for standard therapy of Crohn’s Disease” though it remains unknown how well CBD works in the maintenance of Crohn’s disease either before or after treatment.
2021: Endocannabinoid System as a Promising Therapeutic Target in Inflammatory Bowel Disease – A Systematic Review
This review provides a considerable amount of groundwork theory explaining why cannabinoids like CBD might be useful against inflammatory bowel conditions like Crohn’s disease. The authors demonstrate how the endocannabinoid system, which is modulated by CBD, plays a vital role in “modulating many physiological processes… in IBD.” Focusing on the two cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, a case is made for how CBD might activate these neuroreceptors, which have been recognized as playing a critical role in gut health and overall inflammation modulation.
2020: Cannabis and Cannabinoids on the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Going Beyond Misuse
Coming from a perspective that notes illicit types of cannabis are being used as an inflammatory bowel treatment already, this review compiles available evidence that certain forms of cannabinoids should be viewed as legitimate potential therapies for Crohn’s disease and related inflammatory gut conditions. In the end, the authors “suggest caution” when using cannabis to treat Crohn’s disease but do not directly recommend against this approach.
CBD for Crohn's Disease Human Trials
2021: Oral CBD-rich Cannabis Induces Clinical but Not Endoscopic Response in Patients with Crohn's Disease, a Randomised Controlled Trial
In one of the only human clinical trials of CBD in relation to Crohn’s disease, researchers found positive results. Even though endoscopic assays were relatively unchanged after eight weeks, the 56 participants of this study generally reported increased quality of life and reduced Crohn’s disease symptoms. While further studies are clearly needed, these initial data make a strong case for CBD being used for Crohn’s disease in a clinical setting.
2017: Low-Dose Cannabidiol Is Safe but Not Effective in the Treatment for Crohn's Disease, a Randomized Controlled Trial
This early study into CBD for Crohn’s disease was limited in many ways, but its results are worth discussing nonetheless. Consisting of a cohort of 20 patients, the study facilitators only gave patients 10mg of CBD per day, which modern understanding pegs as quite low for a gastrointestinal condition like Crohn’s disease. The results weren’t exactly negative but failed to reflect the understanding of CBD dosing required to design an effective inquiry.
Additional CBD Crohn's Disease Studies
2020: An overview of cannabis based treatment in Crohn's disease
This wide overview of the overall usefulness of cannabis for Crohn’s disease bears good news: “Cannabis seems to have a therapeutic potential in IBD.” CBD plays a key role in inquiry, with the authors noting that it appears both better-tolerated and more effective than THC in the treatment of Crohn’s disease.
Discussion: Should CBD Be Used for Crohn's Disease?
Compared to research regarding CBD and other subjects, the amount of data accumulated on the potential usefulness of CBD for Crohn’s disease is admittedly low. Nonetheless, we know enough to be reasonably certain that CBD is safe enough to continue exploring in this context. It also seems that CBD has some degree of medical utility against Crohn’s disease and related conditions, the exact extent of which remains to be determined.
CBD is shaping up to be an integral part of any comprehensive Crohn’s disease regimen. Anti-inflammatory substances with favorable side effect profiles are nearly always useful in treating these types of conditions, becoming even more advantageous when they are plentiful and simple to procure like CBD.
Those seeking a new method of approach to the problem of Crohn’s disease appear to have little to fear when trying CBD. It is important to choose a high-quality product and an effective method of administration, but from there, Crohn’s disease patients should feel free to experiment with CBD within the bounds of reason.
1. Vinci, A., Ingravalle, F., Bardhi, D., Cesaro, N., Frassino, S., Licata, F., & Valvano, M. (2022). Cannabinoid Therapeutic Effects in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Biomedicines, 10(10), 2439. https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines10102439
2. Hryhorowicz, S., Kaczmarek-Ryś, M., Zielińska, A., Scott, R. J., Słomski, R., & Pławski, A. (2021). Endocannabinoid system as a promising therapeutic target in inflammatory bowel disease – a systematic review. Frontiers in Immunology, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2021.790803
3. De Carvalho, A. C. A., De Souza, G. A., De Marqui, S. V., Guiguer, É. L., Araújo, A. C., Rubira, C. J., De Álvares Goulart, R., Flato, U. a. P., Bueno, P. C. D. S., Buchaim, R. L., & Barbalho, S. M. (2020). Cannabis and canabidinoids on the inflammatory bowel diseases: Going beyond misuse. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21(8), 2940. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21082940
4. Naftali, T., Schleider, L. B., Almog, S., Meiri, D., & Konikoff, F. M. (2021). Oral CBD-rich Cannabis Induces Clinical but Not Endoscopic Response in Patients with Crohn’s Disease, a Randomised Controlled Trial. Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis, 15(11), 1799–1806. https://doi.org/10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjab069
5. Low-Dose Cannabidiol Is Safe but Not Effective in the Treatment for Crohn’s Disease, a Randomized Controlled Trial. (n.d.). International Journal of Molecular Science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7215817/
6. An overview of cannabis based treatment in Crohn’s disease. (n.d.). Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32149543/