How CBD Benefits Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Relief from Inflammatory Bowel Disease lies just ahead. The CBD benefits for IBD act as a non-toxic alternative treatment that is finally being recognized:
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a pandemic issue that affects millions of Americans. IBD is a general term in reference to a number of specific conditions, the two most dominant and severe being ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease (CD). According to the Centers for Disease Control, upwards of 1 to 1.3 million Americans are battling IBD, with UC affecting 201 out of every 100,000 adults and CD plaguing 238 out of 100,000 adults (1). The societal impact of IBD is far reaching. School and work absenteeism has been reported up to 13 days lost per year (2), and the US alone spends upwards of $25 billion annually in dealing with the problem (3).
Many of the patients in my practice have some form of IBD, much of which goes previously undiagnosed. The reason for such oversight in the medical community is the same for many chronic diseases – unless or until symptoms progress into full blown disease, problems are ignored. Sure the problem may be recognized by the conventional community (4), but the same tired approach of symptomatic drug suppression with toxic side effects is still applied.
Fortunately, in the world of preventative, proactive medicine, digestive health is considered paramount to optimal health. In my practice I have found that common signs and symptoms such as indigestion, gas, bloating, irregular elimination, and reflux could set someone up for a host of chronic issues, including but not limited to IBD, CD, gastric ulcers, reflux, depression, nutrient malabsorption, and even autoimmune disease.
Looking through the literature I was elated to have found a number of articles that strongly support the role that medical marijuana, particularly Cannabidiol (CBD), plays in the treatment of IBD and even colon cancer (5), the latter which will be discussed in a future article. CBD is growing strong momentum in the scientific community as a low cost, non-toxic alternative to common drug therapies for IBD and other chronic illnesses (5). It is of particular interest to researchers due to its non-psychoactive and federally legal status, two attributes which THC unfortunately does not enjoy.
A more progressive look at IBD is taking place at the local nervous system the intestines possess in regard to gut injury and inflammation (6). Enteric glial cells, the functional units of this electrical system, share great commonality with the same glial cells of the brain, supporting further the brain-gut connection (6). These cells communicate with local immune cells such as macrophages, mast cells, and neutrophils, which ultimately determine the local inflammatory response that occurs in the gut (7). And this is specifically where the role of CBD is being investigated. The reason CBD was even considered in the intestinal nervous system discussion was due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-proliferative (anti-cancer) effects in the central nervous system itself (8), and the findings were impressive.
There is growing scientific consensus that CBD has a powerful ability to deregulate (basically reduce or inhibit) the intestinal nervous system response to inflammation, both acutely and chronically (6). What was interesting about these findings was that CBD appears, at least in this case, to be working outside the CB1 and CB2 receptors, at the endocannabinoid level. CBD appears to play a specific role in increasing the availability of Anandamide, the principal healing endocannabinoid produced already by the body, making it more available at the target sites, the intestinal nervous system itself (9).
In conclusion here, all this scientific jargon breaks down to the following. The intestinal system is showing to have a highly intelligent nervous system of its own, containing the same type of cells we have in the brain. This gut-brain connection explains why so much of our intestinal health is stress related and conversely why acute and chronic abdominal distress causes a number of emotional complaints and lost work hours. Just look at any TV ad for IBS or reflux drugs and you’ll see for yourself. Relief lies just ahead however as CBD is being aggressively recognized for its role in treating this specialized neural network that all of have in our intestines.
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3. Fullerton S. Functional digestive disorders (FDD) in the year 2000 – economic impact. Eur J Surg. 1998;582(suppl):S62-S64.
5. Phytomedicine.2014 Apr 15;21(5):631-9. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2013.11.006. Epub 2013 Dec 25.
6. Phytother Res.2013 May;27(5):633-6. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4781. Epub 2012 Jul 20.
7. PLoS One. 2011; 6(12): e28159.
Published online 2011 Dec 6. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028159 Cannabidiol Reduces Intestinal Inflammation through the Control of Neuroimmune Axis. Daniele De Filippis,#1,5 Giuseppe Esposito,#2 Carla Cirillo,3 Mariateresa Cipriano,1,5 Benedicte Y. De Winter,4 Caterina Scuderi,2 Giovanni Sarnelli,3 Rosario Cuomo,3 Luca Steardo,2 Joris G. De Man,4 and Teresa Iuvone1,5,*
8. Petrosino S, Ligresti A, Di Marzo V. Endocannabinoid chemical biology: a tool for the development of novel therapies.Curr Opin Chem Biol.2009;13:309–20
9. Br J Pharmacol.2001 Oct;134(4):845-52. Molecular targets for cannabidiol and its synthetic analogues: effect on vanilloid VR1 receptors and on the cellular uptake and enzymatic hydrolysis ofanandamide. Bisogno T1, Hanus L, De Petrocellis L, Tchilibon S, Ponde DE, Brandi I, Moriello AS, Davis JB, Mechoulam R, Di Marzo V.