Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) disease that causes inflammation and sore (ulcers) in the lining of the large intestine (colon). It usually affects the lower section (sigmoid colon) and the rectum although it can affect the entire colon. The more of the colon that’s affected, the worse the symptoms will be.
The disease can affect people of any age. But most people who have it are diagnosed before the age of 30.
Experts aren’t sure what causes it. They think it might be caused by the immune system overreacting to normal bacteria in the digestive tract. Or other kinds of bacteria and viruses may cause it. Colitis may be acute and self-limited or chronic, i.e. persistent, and broadly fits into the category of digestive diseases.
Finding optimal treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease is imperative, as these conditions can be intensely painful, and often cause abdominal discomfort, appetite loss,/vomiting, and other related symptoms. They are therefore likely to cause a decreased quality of life for patients.
The signs and symptoms of colitis are quite variable and dependent on the cause of the given colitis and factors that modify its course and severity.
Symptoms of colitis may include: mild to severe abdominal, recurring bloody diarrhea, fecal incontinence, flatulence, and fatigue, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss. More severe symptoms may include: shortness of breath, a fast or irregular heartbeat and fever. The disease can also cause other problems such as; joint pain, eye problems, or liver disease.
In most people, the symptoms come and go. Some people go for months or years without symptoms (remission). They will have a flare-up. About 5 to 10 out of 100 people with ulcerative colitis have symptoms all the time.
Cannabis and colitis
For people with colitis, life can mean always wondering when the condition will flare-up and how bad the symptoms will be. Until now, there have been limited treatments for these painful, life-altering conditions. The available conventional treatment for the symptoms is accompanied with a number of side effects which are harmful to the patients’ health.
As is true with many disorders, cannabis has been used for centuries to treat the symptoms of Colitis including a reduction in pain sensation, nausea relief and reduce the feeling of unpleasantness.
According to a statement issued by The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America in 2012, compounds found in the marijuana plant closely mimic endocannabinoids (molecules that occur naturally in the body) and have been shown to play an important part in decreasing gastrointestinal inflammation.
A 2011 study found that 51% of ulcerative colitis patients are lifetime cannabis users. Users having utilized medical marijuana for treatment of symptoms with no side effects.
There is evidence that THC may be helpful in reducing permeability of the epithelial lining thus helping to reduce damage and decrease inflammation. Both Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease have recently qualified for treatment by medical marijuana treatment in more states.
As it stands now, there are dozens of high quality studies that illustrate the fact that medical marijuana serves an important purpose in treating and alleviating the symptoms of painful IBD disorders. In addition to relieving pain, muscle cramps, anxiety, insomnia and inflammation, certain strains of cannabis also promote appetite, produce weight gain and enhance the mood of affected patients.
Colitis and Crohn’s disease are both incredibly disruptive conditions that affect people’s ability to hold a job, maintain social relationships or even plan everyday events. Because the symptoms of these conditions are so unpredictable and painful, they often rob affected individuals of their ability to lead a normal life.
Fortunately, the soothing effects of medical cannabis have the potential to treat some of these symptoms and help people with Colitis and Crohn’s disease do everything, from maintain a job and social relationships to helping them live a healthier life despite their condition.