What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is one of the conditions in the Inflammatory Bowel Disease group. It causes chronic inflammation in the gastroenterestional tract (GI). he inflammation goes deep into the lining of the GI tract causing chronic symptoms. When this inflammation is long term, scar tissue builds up in the intestine causing a stricture. This area becomes narrowed and slows the movemement of food through the digestive system. Though most commonly affecting the ileum portion of the small bowel, any part of the GI tract can be involved. This sets Crohn’s apart from other IBDs such as ulcerative colitis.
The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are those typical of other GI issues; abdominal pain, diarrhea, cramping, and loss of appetite. The scarring of the intestine can also cause ulcers, anemia, nutritional deficiencies, and bowel obstruction. Depending on the portion of the GI tract that is effected by the disease, certain signs my be present around the anus as well. These include; skin tags, abscesses, anal fissures (small tears), and fistulas. Fistulas are tunnels that form between an intestine and another organ and are caused by the inflammation in the GI tract. These may involve the skin, vagina, or bladder.
Clinical Trials, Studies and Publications:
The goal of prescription treatment for Crohn’s disease is twofold. Firstly, to reduce inflammation so that the intestine may heal. Once the symptoms are in remission, medicine is used to prolong this period and maintain the health of the intestine. To achieve these goals, medicines such as corticosteroids and immunomodulators are commonly used. Corticosteroids suppress the immune system to reduce chronic inflammation. They are not recommended as a long term option due to serious side effects. They are not able to specifically target the areas to suppress so an overall decrease in immune strength is experienced. Adding this to a body that is already struggling to heal its GI tract presents serious risks. Immunomodulators are also used to suppress the immune system and are the next step once a corticosteroid regime is no longer working, these medicines take months to begin to work.
Ways to combat Crohn’s Disease?
As an alternative, medical marijuana can be safely used to reduce the main symptom of Crohn’s; inflammation. THC has been scientifically proven to reduce inflammation in the body without suppressing the immune system. It may also increase appetite and decrease pain enough to lessen dependence on pain medications.