Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease. The chronic condition inflames the colon or the large intestine and the rectum. It is a long term disease with no known cure. The most effective treatment is to manage the symptoms. Severe cases of ulcerative colitis can cause extreme pain due to excessive swelling and irritation. Ulcerative colitis should not be confused with irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease. Common symptoms are rectal bleeding, diarrhea, abdominal pain and passing mucus. The symptoms can flare up at times and there can be remissions when the symptoms may be moderate or largely subsided.
Cannabis and extracts of cannabis sativa plant have been used for various purposes, including recreational. As more medicinal effects of cannabis get proved through scientific research and controlled clinical studies, there is an increase in interest to find out if cannabidiol can provide relief from symptoms of ulcerative colitis. CBD can restore the optimum functioning of the endocannabinoid system in humans and animals. While some cannabinoids in cannabis have psychoactive or psychotropic effects, thus influencing cognitive impairment, CBD has no such property and hence is deemed safe. Cannabidiol or CBD products can reduce inflammation in tissues and joints. It may have the same anti-inflammatory effect on the colon and the rectum.
Researchers have evaluated the effects of cannabidiol on ulcerative colitis. There are two studies that have observed and assessed the effects of cannabidiol on ninety two adults who have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. One study assessed sixty participants over a period of ten weeks. They were treated with cannabidiol capsules containing CBD oil. The other study assessed thirty two participants who were given cannabis cigarettes. In both studies, the cannabidiol and cannabis cigarettes respectively had tetrahydrocannabinol. The capsules had less than five percent of tetrahydrocannabinol. The cigarettes had around eleven and a half milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol.
Patients in the first study who did not experience relief through conventional medical treatment reported improved quality of life as they took the cannabidiol capsules. There were some side effects but they were mostly mild, including fluctuating attention and dizziness, fatigue and nausea. Some people experienced mild headache. The other study revealed that patients had lower activity index for the disease. There was no severe side effect. But the measure of inflammation did not change much between the group given placebo and the one given cannabis.
From the research available till now, it is unclear if cannabidiol can provide significant relief from ulcerative colitis. Irrefutable inferences cannot be draw in light of the fact that the quantifiable difference between the groups is not sufficient. Patients given placebo had almost the same remission rates as those given cannabidiol. Patients who may have inactive ulcerative colitis have not been studied yet. It is possible cannabidiol will have a different kind of effect on their symptoms. It is also possible that those who have ulcerative colitis in remission might benefit in some way. However, these are at best speculations right now. Researchers are also exploring different forms and dosage of cannabidiol. They are also trying other methods of administration. The long term effect and safety of using cannabidiol in regards to ulcerative colitis and for overall health in general must be investigated as well.
There are patients diagnosed with ulcerative colitis who have reported experiencing some relief from the symptoms after using cannabidiol. Some have used cannabidiol oil topically and others have used it in the edible form, mostly as oil but also in foods. Cannabis and some of its extracts are being used in many types of therapies. Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions are now factoring in the possibility of providing sustained relief from pain with the help of cannabidiol oil. Since cannabidiol does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol and thus cannot inebriate a person, the extract is being researched extensively in recent times.
It should be noted that cannabidiol is not proven to be safe or unsafe for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. It is not known how the cannabinoid will interact with fetus development and if it will influence the normal growth of a newborn. THC is harmful for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Till such time there is enough scientific evidence, it is best to avoid both CBD and THC if one is pregnant or breastfeeding. There can be complications as the aforementioned research has shown. There was one serious side effect leading to complications during pregnancy.
The studies exploring the effects of cannabidiol on ulcerative colitis were not very long. They were limited to eight and ten weeks. A longer study may reveal different rates of remission and the measure of inflammation may also vary. But such an extensive study is not available right now and it may be a while before there is any conclusive finding.