Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are so-called “IBDs” (chronic inflammatory bowel diseases) for which there is currently no cure. Intestinal inflammations such as these not only damage the intestines, but often also have a negative impact on everyday life. Medication alleviates symptoms and is intended to prevent inflammatory messengers from getting out of hand. We already know that hemp oil has anti-inflammatory properties. Can the effect of CBD also be transferred to intestinal inflammation? We have summarized everything you need to know about this for you.
Development of intestinal inflammation - what role do cannabinoid receptors play?
It is still not fully understood why intestinal inflammations such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis occur in the first place. They are classified as autoimmune diseases, but scientists are not entirely sure about this. The Max Planck Society published an interesting study which showed that mice without a cannabinoid receptor suffer significantly more frequently from inflammatory bowel diseases. Whether this is transferable to humans has not yet been proven. In the mouse model, it was found during the investigations that the intestine reacted much more strongly with inflammation when the CB1 receptor was missing. The scientists concluded that the body’s own endocannabinoid system plays an important role in keeping the gut healthy.
The mice were given a THC-like substance during the study and the symptoms were reduced. If we now assume that the lack of cannabinoid receptors or the reduced response triggers intestinal inflammation, this explains the positive feedback on CBD.
Symptoms and treatment - when the digestive tract is not working properly
The symptoms of inflammation in the intestines are varied. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two completely different diseases, but their symptoms are similar. The biggest difference is that ulcerative colitis only affects the large intestine, whereas Crohn’s can occur from the oral mucosa to the anus.
A diagnosis is advisable if the following digestive complaints occur chronically:
- Diarrhea (watery, bloody, independent of food)
- Feeling of weakness throughout the body
- Pain (especially in the large intestine)
- Nausea and vomiting (with Crohn’s disease)
- Weight loss
- Cramp-like abdominal pain with flatulence
- Vitamin D deficiency
During a colonoscopy, the doctor will find out whether pain and other symptoms are due to a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. If no signs of inflammation can be found histologically, irritable bowel syndrome can be considered as a differential diagnosis. It often occurs with stress and an unhealthy diet, but does not visibly affect the gastrointestinal tract. The mucous membrane is intact, although the quality of life of those affected is limited and the symptoms are severe.
Hemp oil against intestinal inflammation - how it could work
Chronic inflammatory bowel diseases are treated with strong medication. The aim of the therapy is to suppress the body’s own defenses and thus reduce the immune system’s attacks on the intestinal mucosa. The side effects are often severe, but there is currently no other way of containing the consequences of chronic intestinal inflammation. If left untreated, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis would lead to the gradual destruction of the intestinal mucosa. While ulcerosa is limited to the large intestine and the uppermost layer of the mucous membrane, Crohn’s disease affects all layers and even intestinal perforations are possible.
The seriousness of both diseases makes it clear that hemp oil can never be the only means of treatment. However, if it shows an effective effect, it would be a noteworthy addition to the treatment. Since 2017, cannabis has been prescribed by doctors for medical indications. Tired intestinal inflammation is an indicator for issuing a prescription. However, the disadvantage of classic cannabis is its psychoactive effect, which is where CBD oil comes into play.
It is known that CBD oil has a pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory and calming effect. The high proportion of omega-3 fatty acids also promotes a healthy gut microbiome. The quality of the hemp products plays an important role here; according to experience reports, full-spectrum oils are particularly important.
Scientific approach - cannabinoids as a source of hope for patients
Researchers from all over the world have long recognized the importance of hemp seed oil and are investigating the effect of such products on inflammatory bowel diseases. In one study, patients with ulcerative colitis were examined and treated with CBD hemp oil. In practical tests, signaling molecules responsible for the spread of inflammation were reduced. In another study, it became clear that CBD binds to the A2 receptors, which in turn are responsible for a reduction in signs of inflammation. There are therefore various approaches that can explain the effects of CBD on intestinal inflammation.
For a better quality of life - CBD oil as an aid against pain
Severe pain has a significant impact on the well-being of Crohn’s and ulcerosa sufferers. Cannabinoids such as CBD have a pain-relieving effect, which has already been proven in numerous scientific articles. Due to its stimulating effect on the cannabinoid receptors in the body, CBD stimulates the formation of pain-regulating messenger substances. Hemp oil therefore does not act as a direct painkiller, but supports the body itself in combating the symptoms.
Healthy gut flora thanks to hemp oil - the microbiome appears to benefit
There is clear evidence that certain foods can promote inflammatory flare-ups in Crohn’s disease. Diets high in sugar and carbohydrates lead to an increase in undesirable intestinal bacteria and a simultaneous loss of good bacteria. A study with mice showed that CBD can have a positive influence on the gut microbiome. It is not yet clear whether the effect of hemp seed oil can be transferred to humans. However, many IBD patients rely on high-quality organic hemp oil as part of their treatment and describe the effects as very positive.
Cannabis plant as an aid for chronic intestinal diseases - the conclusion
The gut is considered to be the seat of our health. If digestion is out of sync, this can have an impact on our physical well-being. What most chronic intestinal diseases (irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis) have in common is that those affected do not know where their symptoms are coming from. It often takes years for an exact diagnosis to be made in the intestinal area, which is a great burden for those affected. Their health is severely impaired, and Crohn’s disease in particular is often accompanied by stomach ulcers, fistulas and abscesses.
The positive effects of CBD described so far in studies and field reports give hope. Even if the cannabinoid is not able to cure the disease, it is said to effectively relieve pain. Its anti-inflammatory effect could also help patients stay in remission (inflammation-free period) for longer. It can be assumed that there will be further studies on this in the coming years.
It is important to note that although a CBD product can be supportive, it does not change life from the ground up. CBD is not a substitute for drug therapy for intestinal inflammation, but it could be a support. Due to its effect on the CB1 cannabinoid receptors, it is conceivable that those affected could enrich their therapy with the active ingredient of the hemp plant.
In many areas, doctors are open to modern CBD research. In some cases, doctors even recommend hemp oils as they believe in the body’s self-healing powers. Hemp has been used for thousands of years and is considered a remedy by many indigenous peoples. It is not, but compared to many other substances and natural products, it is a well-researched product and there are good reasons for taking it.