man with IBD holding his stomach

Cannabis Oil for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Approximately 1.4 million Americans have IBD and 30,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. The onset of IBD in adolescents and young adults is rising. Alternative, complementary treatment options, such as cannabis-based therapies, might relieve IBD symptoms and improve quality of life for these young patients. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, 15-20% patients report active cannabis use to relieve IBD-related symptoms. 

In this small study, a subset of IBD patients ages 13-23 reported on their usage of cannabis oil. The most commonly reported reason for use was medical (pain relief) as opposed to psychological or recreational purposes, which was consistent with the patients’ choices of products high in CBD and low in THC. IBD patients perceived some additional medical benefits, including an effect on sleep quality, nausea, and an increase in appetite. Despite the perception of perceived health effects, the study authors found no medical differences between cannabis oil users and non-users for appetite, pain, or disease severity.

Future studies are needed to assess the safety and efficacy of cannabis oil on IBD outcomes in adolescent and young adult patients.

Citation: Hoffenberg EJ, McWilliams S, Mikulich-Gilbertson S, Murphy B, Hoffenberg A, Hopfer CJ. Cannabis oil use by adolescents and young adults with inflammatory bowel disease. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2019 Mar; 68(3): 348-352.

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