In small studies, smoking cannabis (marijuana — the dried parts of the cannabis plant) has improved IBD symptoms, including pain, nausea, and decreased appetite.
However, there is currently no evidence that medical cannabis can reduce IBD inflammation or improve disease activity. Further research is needed, and underway now, regarding the impact of cannabis on IBD.
Cannabis is composed of over 70 active compounds called phytocannabinoids or cannabinoids.
The first is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is most known for its effects on one’s mental state. It has been known to alleviate nausea and chronic pain and improve one’s appetite.
The second is cannabidiol, or CBD, which has more anti-inflammatory or immune properties. Therapeutic uses may include reducing inflammation and treating insomnia, sleep apnea, spasticity, and pain.
Potential side effects
It is important to remember that cannabis can cause side effects including severe nausea and vomiting (a condition called cannabis hyperemesis syndrome), impaired short-term memory, difficulty concentrating, altered judgment, impaired coordination, anxiety, worsening mood, and long-term problems with behavior and reasoning, particularly in adolescents. There are also increased risks for fetuses and newborns if used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
More about cannabis and IBD
View the Foundation’s position statement on medical cannabis
Check out our webinar! Medical Cannabis in IBD
Watch part 2: Practical Considerations of Medical Cannabis in IBD