The effectiveness of cannabis and its derivatives for treating gastrointestinal disorders has been known for centuries. Research shows cannabis to be an effective treatment for Crohn’s, not only because it helps to alleviate symptoms caused by the disease and pharmaceutical therapies, but because its use can sometimes lead to complete remission. Cannabis provides significant medical efficacy in the treatment of Crohn’s disease because it is made up of hundreds of organic chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, which are able to bind to the same receptors in the brain as the body’s own gastrointestinal tract regulating endocannabinoids.
The best-known psychoactive cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), does more than produce the euphoric feeling of being “high.” It reduces inflammation and relieves pain, nausea and vomiting while also stimulating the appetite.
Cannabidiol (CBD), the most common non-psychoactive cannabinoid, also relieves inflammation while producing clear-heading, calming effects. CBD is also an effective antibacterial, which is important for patients suffering from infected fissures.
The precursors to THC and CBD, tetrahydrocannabinolic-acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic-acid (CBDA), are also important in the treatment of Crohn’s disease. Like THC, THCA relieves pain, reduces inflammation, and helps to stimulate the appetite. CBDA also alleviates inflammation and fights infections.
While individual cannabinoids alleviate specific symptoms of Crohn’s, all of them working symbiotically with terpenes in a process called the entourage effect, can result in a patient’s complete remission. Medical cannabis is able to fill in the missing pieces of the homeostasis puzzle when the body fails to regulate its own endocannabinoid production.