Cannabis Law Prof Blog

Editor: Franklin G. Snyder
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Israeli Study Shows Cannabis Oil Improves Crohn's Disease Symptoms

AaaA recent study out of Israel provides evidence that cannnabis oil significantly improves symptoms of Crohn's disease. Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Common symptoms associated with Crohn's disease include: diarrhea, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain and cramping, blood in the stool, mouth sores, and reduced appetite and weight loss.

Researchers from Israel recruited 46 people with moderately severe Crohn's disease, and randomized the participants to receive 8 weeks of treatment with either a cannabis oil containing 15% cannabidiol and 4% tetrahydrocannabinol or a placebo. Severity of symptoms and quality of life were measured before, during, and after treatment.

The results show that the group receiving the cannabis oil had significant reduction in their Crohn's disease symptoms compared with the placebo group, with 65% of the cannabis oil group meeting criteria for clinical remission. The cannabis oil group also had significant improvements in their quality of life when compared to the placebo group. 

Interestingly, the study's authors say it seems to disprove the idea that the improvement of Crohn's disease symptoms is a result of reduction of inflammation in the digestive tract: 

Speaking at UEG Week 2018 in Vienna, lead researcher, Dr. Timna Naftali explained, "Cannabis has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of medical conditions, and studies have shown that many people with Crohn's disease use cannabis regularly to relieve their symptoms. It has always been thought that this improvement was related to a reduction in inflammation in the gut and the aim of this study was to investigate this."

"We have previously demonstrated that cannabis can produce measurable improvements in Crohn's disease symptoms but, to our surprise, we saw no statistically significant improvements in endoscopic scores or in the inflammatory markers we measured in the cannabis oil group compared with the placebo group," said Dr. Naftali. "We know that cannabinoids can have profound anti-inflammatory effects but this study indicates that the improvement in symptoms may not be related to these anti-inflammatory properties."

Going forward, the research group plans to further study the potential anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis in the treatment of Crohn's disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases:

"There are very good grounds to believe that the endocannabinoid system is a potential therapeutic target in Crohn's disease and other gastrointestinal diseases," said Dr. Naftali. "For now, however, we can only consider medicinal cannabis as an alternative or additional intervention that provides temporary symptom relief for some people with Crohn's disease."

--Taylor Allen

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