12 Nov Can cannabis treat inflammatory bowel diseases? Study shows promise
Cannabis may help your bowels. That’s the conclusion of recent research by the University of Bath in England and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Their study uncovered crucial new findings about inflammation in the bowel. The researchers found that inflammation in the bowel — which causes inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — can result from a lack of endogenous cannabinoids.
These molecules are almost identical to cannabinoids found in cannabis, like THC and CBD. They attach to the same receptors in our brains and bodies. But they are made by our bodies themselves. Even if you’ve never smoked pot in your life, your body is brimming with cannabinoids. Well, hopefully.
When the body is deficient in its naturally-produced cannabinoids, inflammation can occur. (Cannabinoids have natural anti-inflammatory properties.) The findings suggest that chemicals in cannabis can play a role in the body’s internal signaling. Cannabinoids can quell the inflammation.
“For the first time, we have explained and identified a counterbalance to the inflammatory response in the intestine,” says Professor Randy Mrsny from the University of Bath Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. “We hope that these findings will help us develop new ways to treat bowel disease.”
More than ten million people in the world suffer from the two major IBDs, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. In the US alone, there are over 3 million sufferers. IBDs can affect both adults and children, but most people are diagnosed in their twenties or thirties.
“There’s been a lot of anecdotal evidence about the benefits of medical marijuana, but there hasn’t been a lot of science to back it up, says Professor Beth McCormick, who works at the University of Massachusetts Medical School reports. “For the first time, we have an understanding of the molecules involved in the process and how these molecules control inflammation. This gives clinical researchers a new drug target to explore, to treat patients that suffer from IBD’s and perhaps other diseases as well.”
So far, this research has only been performed on mice. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.