Crohn’s Disease (also known as granulomatous colitis and regional enteritis) is an inflammatory bowel disease that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus, causing a wide variety of symptoms. It primarily causes abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody), vomiting, or weight loss, but may also cause complications outside of the gastrointestinal tract such as skin rashes, arthritis and inflammation of the eye.
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease, caused by the immune system’s attacking the gastrointestinal tract and producing inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract; it is classified as a type of inflammatory bowel disease. There appears to be a genetic link to Crohn’s disease, with the highest risk occurring in individuals with siblings who have the disease. Males and females are equally affected. Smokers are three times more likely to develop Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease affects between 400,000 and 600,000 people in North America. Prevalence estimates for Northern Europe have ranged from 27–48 per 100,000. Crohn’s disease tends to present initially in the teens and twenties, with another peak incidence in the fifties to seventies, although the disease can occur at any age.
There is no known drug or surgical cure for Crohn’s disease; treatment options are restricted to controlling symptoms, maintaining remission and preventing relapse.
O’Shaughnessy’s, a scientific journal, published a study in its Autumn 2005 issue titled “Cannabis Alleviates Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease,” by Jeff Hergenrather, MD, that found:
“[Crohn’s] patients described marked improvements with the use of cannabis. Beneficial effects were reported for appetite, pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, activity, and depression. Patients also reported that cannabis use resulted in weight gain, fewer stools per day and fewer flare-ups of less severity… Cannabis-using Crohn’s patients not only report significant relief of their symptoms, they are also able to reduce the amount of immunosuppressive medications that have been a mainstay of conventional treatment… Crohn’s disease is so debilitating and life-threatening and so difficult to manage with conventional medications it is very encouraging to find that cannabis is proving to be an effective treatment for it right now.”