Chrons MedCard

Medical Marijuana and Treatment of Colitis and Crohn’s Disease

  • Can medical marijuana be used to treat colitis and Crohn’s disease? 

  • There exist several clinical and lab studies as well as abundant anecdotal evidence to suggest this to be the case.

  • Evidence for the efficacy and safety of cannabis in treating colitis and Crohn’s.

  • Best 5 strains of medical marijuana for Crohn’s and colitis

As medical marijuana policies continue to progress across the nation, more and more Crohn’s disease and colitis patients are discovering its healing properties. There is abundant evidence that cannabinoids found in marijuana possess powerful anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating benefits that can help to reduce the suffering and damage caused by these conditions.

Both Crohn’s disease and colitis are debilitating, chronic inflammatory conditions that can cause irreversible intestinal damage. Oftentimes, those suffering from these diseases have difficulty digesting food and are unable to properly absorb nutrients and eliminate waste from their bodies. 

Crohn’s disease and Colitis patients suffer from severe gastrointestinal inflammation. Crohn’s can affect the entire GI tract. However, in most cases, only the small intestine bordering on the colon is damaged. Colitis, on the other hand, manifests in the large intestine and rectum.

More and more evidence is showing medical cannabis to be a safe and effective protocol for IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) patients

A bit about Crohn’s disease and colitis  

According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated three million adults in the U.S. are reported to have been diagnosed with some form of IBD. Statistics indicate a significant spike of about one million cases in the last sixteen years.

Patients suffering from Crohn’s or colitis often deal with alternating periods of flare-ups and remission.

The CDC lists these factors that increase one’s risk of being diagnosed with IBD:

  • Aged 45 years or older
  • Hispanic or caucasian
  • With less than a high school level education
  • Unemployed
  • U.S. born
  • Living in poverty
  • Living in suburban areas

The exact cause of Crohn’s and Colitis are still unknown. Inflammatory bowel conditions are categorized as autoimmune diseases.

One widely held theory is that the immune system reacts negatively to environmental triggers. Researchers are also considering genetics as a contributing factor in the onset of Crohn’s disease and Colitis.

Other studies indicate bacteria or viruses may trigger the immune system to attack intestinal tissues wreaking havoc in the digestive tract and developing into several other maladies including:

  • Bowel obstruction
  • Ulcers
  • Fistulas
  • Anal fissure
  • Malnutrition
  • Colon cancer
  • Other health risks

IBDs also weakens the gastrointestinal organs and affect their function. This can trigger distressing symptoms such as:

  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fatigue

Medical Marijuana Treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – Read More


Traditionally, Crohn’s Disease and colitis are treated with immune system suppressors such as corticosteroids, pain relievers, and anti-inflammatories.

Corticosteroids are remarkably effective for inducing remission from IBD, however, they are not viable in the long term maintenance of the disease. They are also known for their serious side effects and a high potential for dependence.

Medical marijuana’s effects on Crohn's and colitis

Today, more and more researchers are embracing the idea that IBD and a host of other autoimmune system disorders may be linked to a condition known as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency. Multiple studies are backing up the endocannabinoid deficiency theory and its role in the development of these conditions.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation recently made a statement, contending that “Endocannabinoids, molecules found in the body that closely resemble compounds found in the cannabis (marijuana) plant, may play a role in limiting intestinal inflammation and decreasing intestinal motility”

The Foundation has also reported a significant number of IBD patients who regularly smoked medical marijuana, showed a profound improvement in the quality of life, relief of chronic abdominal pain, return of appetite, better sleep, and cessation of nausea.

Dr. Adi Lahat wrote an article in the Digestion journal (2012) “Impact of Cannabis Treatment on the Quality of Life, Weight, and Clinical Disease Activity in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients: A Pilot Prospective Study.”

Dr. Lahat’s documentation reveals his research on Crohn’s patients who ingest medical marijuana, stating: “Cannabis improves quality of life in patients with long-standing Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis … Data demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in almost all aspects of patients’ daily life.” 

In a 2005 groundbreaking paper by MD Jeff Hergenrather titled “Cannabis Alleviates Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease,” patients reported wide-ranging benefits and reduced reliance on [traditional] drugs with adverse effects. 

Dr. Hergenrather reports, “For all signs and symptoms evaluated in the study, the 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 are-ups of less severity.” 

Researcher Schico R. from the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology in Austria penned a paper titled, “Cannabis finds its way into treatment of Crohn’s disease.” In it, the author confirms the benefits of cannabis compounds in Crohn’s patients saying that, “Cannabis produces significant clinical benefits in patients with Crohn’s Disease.” 

And in another study entitled, “Cannabis induces a clinical response in patients with Crohn’s disease: a prospective placebo-controlled study,” Patients were given an 8-week treatment of medical marijuana. A whopping 45 percent of Crohn’s disease patients experienced complete remission. 

Several of the Crohn’s sufferers managed to wean themselves from steroid use completely and indicated better sleep and appetite

Best 5 strains of medical marijuana for Crohn’s and colitis

Different strains of medical marijuana can produce different effects because each strain has a combination of cannabinoids and terpenes. Here are some of the strains that are known to provide the best outcomes for IBD patients.

1) Chemo Marijuana (indica)

Chemo is widely known for its ability to reduce chronic pain and nausea, alleviate cramps, and improve appetite.

2) Hash Plant (indica)Hash Plant induces a heavy body high, allowing relaxation and providing sedative qualities to help with pain relief and better sleep. High in THC, this strain is best ingested before bedtime.

3) Lemon Jack (sativa)
This uplifting strain is known to help with those suffering from anemia resulting from Crohn’s disease. Lemon Jack will help energize you and give you the motivation to get through the day. Lemon Jack is best consumed in the morning.
4) Golden Pineapple (hybrid)
This inspirational hybrid is popular due to its anxiety-relieving properties that allow productivity and creativity to flow, all whilst keeping fatigue at bay.
5) K2  (hybrid)
A hybrid of White Widow and Hindu Kush, K2 is known to alleviate nausea and improve appetite. It has an energizing effect and reduces the brain fog associated with anemia and sleepiness. K2 stimulates the appetite but doesn’t activate the munchies or binging associated with many indicas

Not all medical marijuana dispensaries will carry these strains. Talk to your doctor, medical marijuana specialist or an experienced budtender to find a suitable strain for treating colitis and Chrohn’s.

How To Get Medical Marijuana for Crohns Disease

If you are suffering from Crohn’s Disease or another health issue and are a resident of a legal state interested in trying medical marijuana for treatment, you will first need to consult with a certified doctor. To get started, fill out the MMJ patient registration formpress submit and your on your way to get or renew your medical marijuana card. See if you qualify today!

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For potential patients, if you’re ready, we make it easy to connect with a medical marijuana doctor nearby or online. If you are interested in getting certified, please fill out the MMJ patient registration form below and press submit to get started. See if you qualify today!

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Helpful Medical Marijuana Links:

Studies on medical marijuana for treating IBDs including Crohn's and colitis:

  1. Corticosteroids in Crohn’s Disease. Yang YX. AM. J. Gastroenterol. 2002 Apr;97(4):803-23
  2.  Inflammatory Bowel Disease. CDC. Data and Statistics. 2017.
  3. Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) revisited: can this concept explain the therapeutic benefits of cannabis in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and other treatment-resistant conditions? Smith SC. Wagner MS. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2014;35(3):198-201.
  4. Impact of Cannabis Treatment on the Quality of Life, Weight, and Clinical Disease Activity in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients: A Pilot Prospective Study. Lahat A. Digestion 2012;85:1-8
  5. Cannabis finds its way into treatment of Crohn’s disease. Schicho R. Storr M. Pharmacology 2014;93(1-2):1-3.
  6. Cannabis induces a clinical response in patients with Crohn’s disease: a prospective placebo-controlled study. Naftali T. Clin. Gastreoenterol. Hepatol. 2013 Oct;11(10):1276-1280.
  7. Cannabis Alleviates Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease. Jeff Hergenrather, MD. O-Shaughnessy’s. 2005.
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