In this article, writer Annalise Mabe explains how she uses CBD for Crohn’s disease.
I sat in the gastroenterologist’s office at seventeen after a marathon of blood tests, -oscopies, and exams when my GI handed me photos of my intestines and told me I had Crohn’s disease, a chronic form of inflammatory bowel disease characterized by inflammation and scarring of the intestine.
That was nearly ten years ago, and now, at twenty-eight, a lot has changed. I survived a major surgery, ventured into the world of biologic treatments, and began to explore CBD after reading that it may help patients with Crohn’s manage their symptoms, namely pain and anxiety.
The cost of Crohn’s
For me, Crohn’s had not been a serious problem until last year when it took 3 trips to the ER for doctors to realize that I needed a major surgery. Twelve inches of my small intestine had become inflamed and obstructed over time due to Crohn’s and had to be removed. At the same time, my GI started me on Remicade, a biologic drug infusion. Remicade can range from $1,300-$2,500 per single infusion without health insurance.
The past year has been whirlwind of medical emergencies, huge bills, automated phone calls to customer service agents, and lots and lots of anxiety. What if I somehow lose health insurance? What if I go in debt trying to afford health care? What if my body fails me again? What if I need another surgery? These are the questions that swirl in my head late at night, keeping me from being able to sleep.
During these months, I wrote publicly on social media about having Crohn’s, updating friends, family members, and online acquaintances about my trek through the medical world. I took photos at my infusions and openly wrote about how I was afraid, that it wasn’t easy, and that it was okay to talk about these things. It wasn’t long before several friends and online acquaintances reached out me to share studies and articles they’d found about CBD and Crohn’s symptoms as well as their own personal experiences about using CBD to curb pain and anxiety.
Like the good student I am, I read up on all I could find. Then, after one friend’s encouragement, I applied for and then received my medical cannabis card thanks to the Florida Department of Health. With my card, I could purchase 10 mg CBD capsules from a reputable dispensary.
How using CBD oil for Crohn’s disease helps me
This was the beginning, and I should say that by no means is CBD oil a cure for Crohn’s disease.
Some people come from a totally holistic mindset and think that changing your diet or exercising is all you need to combat Crohn’s, but, in my case, I’ve needed medicine, too. While changing your diet and exercising can reduce some inflammation, it can’t combat what a body with Crohn’s is actually doing, which is producing a surplus amount of TNF-alphas which lead to more inflammation in the body.
Because Crohn’s is genetic and is thought to be an autoimmune disease, no amount of exercise, diet, or CBD oil will cure it. Used as a supplemental method, however, CBD helps to curb what are arguably the worst parts of having Crohn’s: the psychological burden/worry, abdominal pain, and overall anxiety.
The science behind CBD oil for Crohn’s disease
New research is coming out daily on the science of CBD. It’s clear that we are just discovering the tip of the iceberg in terms of how CBDs work and interact with different mental and physical ailments.
The New York Times recently investigated the surge of CBD. Reporters spoke with Dr. Esther Blessing, an assistant professor at NYU’s School of Medicine who said: “CBD is the most promising drug that has come out for neuropsychiatric disease in the last fifty years.”
Dr. Blessing is currently working on a new study that looks at the use of CBD as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol use disorder and went on to explain: “The reason it is so promising is that it has a unique combination of safety and effectiveness across a very broad range of conditions.”
In another controlled study forthcoming in the journal PAIN and written about in Forbes, CBD was found to “alleviate both pain and anxiety, two symptoms often associated in neuropathic or chronic pain,” in animal models according to the study’s first author Danilo De Gregorio. This study focuses on how CBD interacts with the specific receptors that deliver pain and anxiety. Ultimately, it suggests CBD can act as a non-addictive, safe form of medicine in the treatment of pain and anxiety.
While many studies are focusing on how CBD interacts with psychological ailments, one study authored by Dianele De Filippis et al. looks at intestinal inflammation. Researchers found that CBD may actually “counteract the inflammatory environments” in patients with Ulcerative Colitis (Crohn’s’ cousin), which can reduce and mediate the amount of intestinal damage. The findings of this study actually suggest that there are benefits from CBD for both Crohn’s and UC patients beyond the moderation of symptoms. This could be huge for the future treatment of Crohn’s and UC.
The rise of CBD for health
The rising popularity of CBD is hard to ignore. CBD is offered in capsule, tincture, gummy form and are even being added to luxury confections by high-end boutique retailer Lord Jones.
Many people are taking to online forums to share how CBD is working for them by reducing their anxiety like one reddit user who wrote: “CBD changed my life for the better.”
Now that CBD is being offered more widely across the country, it’s becoming more accessible to people who are suffering from chronic pain and the anxiety that oftentimes accompanies us on the journey towards remission. While researchers may be on the frontiers of CBD research, it’s clear to see that cannabinoids are proving to be effective in moderating pain and anxiety, allowing people with chronic illness to find, at least, some solace and relief.