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eltrosewater (@eltrosewater)

Crohn's Disease - does cannabis help?

Digestive Health | Last Active: Sep 17, 2018 | Replies (18)

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@eltrosewater You and some others are mentioning cannabis products as relief from pain. I live in Oregon, where it is legal. But every day I get at least a hundred e-mails, paper ads, etc., touting the cure-all benefits of the stuff. It will supposedly cure everything from Amyloidosis to low Zinc, and stop the pain completely from Love Life Blues to Yellow Jaundice. I have Hereditary Gelsolin Amyloidosis, complete with every pain know to primates, so every time I visit a doctor, especially a rheumatologist, they insist that I start taking some form of Mary Jane. One rheumy refused to see me again because I would not go on a massive dose of the stuff. I did try it once, at a PC request. I wrecked our car in our own driveway. Some things do not work for everyone.

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Replies to "@eltrosewater You and some others are mentioning cannabis products as relief from pain. I live in..."

I don't belief Crohn's is something that can be cured. It is a chronic and progressive condition, like arthritis and Alzheimer's. You can make diet changes, eliminating the foods you know to exacerbate symptoms, but you will always have symptoms to some degree, from what I understand.

I have friends who live with Crohn's Disease and manage their pain and intestinal inflammation with cannabis, sometimes in addition to prescribed medicine, sometimes without. The best medical science can do for people living with Crohn's Disease seems to be bowel resections with an eventual colostomy anyway, and in the meantime high doses of pharmaceuticals that reduce our immune system response. The side effects of these immunosuppressants include catching a potentially fatal disease that has long been thought to be eradicated in our country, such as tuberculosis, catching an infectious disease that is rare enough most doctors don't recognize the symptoms until they are very severe such as meningitis, and an increased risk of cancers such as lymphoma. I had to sign a waiver to start my most current biologic immunosuppressant stating I would hold no one liable for catching a potentially fatal disease or getting cancer. The decreased immune response can also lead to rapid onset of symptoms and a less effective containment of the pathogens in my body, so that I don't get sick more often than others, but when I do it worsens very rapidly and I take about 2-3x to recover. Add on top of this that people living with Crohn's Disease are so used to feeling sick on a daily basis and tend to ignore more innocuous symptoms until it's time to head to the ER and be admitted to the hospital, and it's a lot of pain and suffering that could easily be avoided. You'd think insurance companies would be gung-ho about medical cannabis too, since it's not as expensive as the federally approved pharmaceuticals, which don't really work too well anyway and we end up with lost time in the hospital away from work and school or both, and it seems insurance companies are basically going with the lowest level of preventative care that is financially possible for them to do without overtly breaking laws protecting consumers.

The CBD component is anti-inflammatory, so it helps with the constant intestinal inflammation from my immune system attacking my colon. The THC component is analgesic, so it helps with the pain that comes with Crohn's symptom flares. The tricky part is that cannabis can have both a stimulant and a depressant effect. In states where cannabis is legal as medicine or even as a recreational substance (like alcohol, cigarettes, foods high in sugar that we are just now learning the sugar industry knew were addictive in the 1970s), the rates of alcohol and federally prohibited substance abuse tend to decrease. A friend of mine from out west told me once that people think cannabis is a gateway drug, but she believes the real gateway drug is alcohol, and describes cannabis as an exit drug. Alcohol and cigarettes have negative effects on our health, and everyone is aware of it, but a plant that can be used as medicine is treated just the same as methamphetamine or heroin.

Of course if you don't respond well to cannabis, it's a good idea to avoid it. A lot of people are genetically more susceptible to alcohol and tobacco/nicotine dependence, but both of those are decriminalized for individuals at least 21 and 18, respectively. That doesn't mean no one should be able to make the choice to use those substances if they want to, so why should medical cannabis, which has evidence mounting that it is helpful in Crohn's management, be any different?