10 cannabis strains to combat Crohn’s Disease and colitis
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are gastrointestinal disorders in a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that can affect any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the rectum, although it may skip certain areas of the intestine, leaving some healthy, while other parts suffer. Ulcerative colitis is a very similar disease in the IBD group of disorders, but it only affects the colon, affecting only the innermost lining of the colon.
The telltale symptoms of Crohn’s disease:
- Persistent diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Urgent need to move bowels
- Sensation of incomplete evacuation or “rectal tenesmus” (Hey, you learned a new word!)
Other signs that are associated with IBD:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
- Loss of menstrual cycle in women
Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? These are painful, life-altering disorders, which is why Crohn’s disease and colitis are specified as qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in nearly half of all medical marijuana states.
These symptoms can be controlled somewhat through diet, but often cannabis offers some of the best relief for the most severe symptoms—cramps, nausea, loss of appetite, etc.
Without further ado, here are the top strains for your symptoms, according to Leafly reviews:
A fan favorite in Canada, Jean Guy (pronounced “Jawn Gee”) is a sativa-dominant strain known for its high THC content and energizing effects. A great one to start your day cramp-free.
Hog’s Breath is a strain with roots tracing back to Kush landraces. It is known for its potency against pain and anxiety—a good strain to relax after a long work day.
Medicine Man lives up to its name by delivering potent pain relief with high levels of THC. This strain is closely related to the master of the indica jungle–White Rhino.
Hash Plant is known for an abundance of trichomes and a heavy body stone. This strain has a reputation for blissful euphoria, as well as easing pain and inflammation associated with Crohn’s and colitis.
Willie Nelson is named for the Red-Headed Stranger himself. This strain offers a clear-headed, energetic high known to incite creativity, as well as a decent case of the munchies.
Chemo is just as sedative as you might imagine–a heavy body high that’s perfect for chronic pain. Take note: the munchies are strong with this one. If you have stomach cramps or trouble eating, this strain will inspire your appetite.
Lemon Jack is a cross between the famed Jack Herer and Lemon Kush, and offers potent effects. Lemon Jack is a daytime strain almost as strong as a cup of coffee, but without the harsh stomach irritation. It’s recommended for consumers who suffer from fatigue.
Golden Pineapple is as delightful as it sounds. A hybrid that delivers uplifting, creative effects with a delicious fruity taste, it can offer relief from stress and anxiety without causing fatigue.
Confidential Cheese is born of the legendary LA Confidential and Exodus Cheese. It can offer powerful pain relief, as well as relief from insomnia. Great for winding down before bedtime, Confidential Cheese may also subdue painful muscle spasms and cramps.
K2 is named for the world’s second highest mountain peak, which makes sense, as it comes from two of the greats–White Widow and Hindu Kush. K2 is known to increase appetite and calm nausea.
5 Best Cannabis Strains for Colitis [UPDATED]
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are two types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1% (3 million people) in the US suffer from IBD. Unfortunately, like many inflammatory diseases, there is no telling when the next flare-up might occur.
What Is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is defined as persistent inflammation of the colon (large intestine). The level of inflammation can range from mild to severe. When the inflammation becomes severe, the colon’s inner lining can develop painful lesions and sores.
Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis
The symptoms of colitis include:
- Loose and urgent bowel movements
- Persistent diarrhea
- Bloody stool
- Abdominal pain/cramping
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Low energy and fatigue
- Inhibited growth and development (in children)
Somewhat unusually, ulcerative colitis’s symptoms are not persistent. Instead, a person with the condition may be symptom-free for several weeks or even months. Then, suddenly, a severe flare-up can occur.
Causes of Ulcerative Colitis
To date, doctors and researchers have been unable to identify an exact cause for ulcerative colitis. One theory is that the condition stems from an immune response to a bacterial or viral infection of the colon. In most cases, the inflammatory response will subside after the infection has cleared. However, for those who develop symptoms of the disease, inflammation can persist.
Genetics also appear to play a significant role as the condition can run in families. Another feature of ulcerative colitis is that it is bimodally distributed. What this means is that it can occur at a younger age, i.e., when a person is in their twenties or thirties, and then again when the person is older, i.e., in their sixties or seventies.
Differences Between Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease
As already mentioned, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are two types of inflammatory bowel disease. While there are similarities between the two conditions, there are also significant differences.
For example, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, whereas ulcerative colitis causes inflammation of the colon only. Crohn’s causes inflammation of all layers of the digestive tract, whereas ulcerative colitis causes inflammation of the inner lining only.
The unpredictable and debilitating nature of colitis has led to more and more patients considering marijuana for relief. With this in mind, let’s take a look at our top 5 cannabis strains to help alleviate the symptoms of colitis!
#1 ACDC – The ‘Clear Head’ Marijuana Strain
ACDC is an evenly balanced hybrid (50:50) that has won the hearts of medical cannabis users across America. This strain has a high CBD to THC ratio (20:1). Therefore, patients can reap the medicinal benefits without becoming high.
Medicinal consumers also believe that ACDC has anti-inflammatory properties.
They say that ACDC is a very social strain, too, which is why so many sufferers gravitate towards it. Some say that it can help to alleviate nausea and pain, and also can clear your head.
Earthy and sweet in both smell and flavor, ACDC is a strain that will have you coming back for more. With modest THC levels of only around 1%, there is a reduced risk of groggy cannabis side effects.
#2 Lemon Haze – The Expert Cannabis Strain
Amongst our top five is the fresh and zesty Lemon Haze. It packs a punch in more ways than one. With its THC levels reaching a hefty 22%, this is not for the faint-hearted. We recommend that only more experienced cannabis smokers try this strain!
Lemon Haze is a sativa-dominant hybrid (70:30) that is a cross between Lemon Skunk and Silver Haze. Lemon Haze is the opposite of the first strain on our list, i.e., ACDC. Whereas the ACDC strain can have a CBD: THC ratio of 20:1, Lemon Haze typically has a THC: CBD ratio of 20:1. Therefore Lemon Haze’s effects are very different and much more potent than ACDC’s effects.
Everything about Lemon Haze is full-on. From the taste and effects to its vibrant yellow and green appearance, with amber hairs throughout.
This strain is famous for its freshly cut lemon aroma and flavor. It is one of the more pleasant tasting buds out there.
Colitis patients reach for Lemon Haze for its range of potent effects. These effects have a very rapid onset, and users quickly experience Lemon Haze’s mood-enhancing effects. Lemon Haze also provides a welcome energy boost too, which is why it is so highly regarded as a ‘wake-and-bake’ strain.
Many patients find Lemon Haze’s potency helps them to relax and de-stress, as well as to combat fatigue and pain.
#3 Granddaddy Purple – The Pain Killer Strain
Granddaddy Purple (GDP) is the world-renowned cross of Big Bud and Purple Urkle. Ken Estes, a legendary figure in the cannabis world, created this strain way back in 2003. We’re sure that you’ll agree, GDP is one deliciously distinctive indica-dominant bud. A GDP plant’s dense nugs are super-sized and come in deep purple hues.
Not only does GDP look and taste amazing, but it is incredibly potent, too. GDP boasts up to 23% THC, which is offset by a modest CBD content of under 1%.
GDP is also famed for its purported medicinal benefits. Apart from this strain’s uplifting effects, medicinal consumers say that it has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, too. These properties may make GDP a good choice for those suffering from ulcerative colitis’s debilitating symptoms.
Take note; however, GDP is also a very popular choice for insomniacs due to its soporific effects. For this reason, this strain is only suitable for evening time use.
#4 Blue Cheese – The Stinky Cannabis Strain
We appreciate that not every flower can smell as delightful as GDP. However, don’t be put off by this strain’s name. While one of Blue Cheese’s parent strains, i.e., UK Cheese, has a pungent, cheesy flavor and aroma, its offspring doesn’t. Blue Cheese’s taste and fragrance are more a fusion of both of its parent strains, i.e., Blueberry and UK Cheese. This combination gives it a slightly sweeter flavor and aroma, which makes this strain more palatable than UK Cheese, in particular.
As well as being a perfect pick-me-up, Blue Cheese is also a potent medicinal strain.
It is a THC-packed indica-dominant (80:20) strain known for its uplifting and body relaxing effects. Some medicinal consumers say that it is useful for pain relief; therefore, it may help with the symptoms of colitis.
Take note that Blue Cheese is a slow onset strain. This can often lull its users into overconsuming. While this strain generally doesn’t cause couch-lock, consumers who overindulge are likely to find themselves glued to the couch. Also, overconsuming can cause some adverse reactions, such as dizziness, and heightened paranoia. Therefore, it is essential to be careful with the dosage when consuming this strain.
Also, Blue Cheese is best suited to evening time use. The reason for this is that this strain’s latter effects can cause its consumers to become drowsy.
#5 Purple Kush – The Powerhouse Strain
Purple Kush is a pure indica that boasts THC levels of up to 27%. This strain is a potent cross of the legendary Hindu Kush strain and Purple Afghani. High Times magazine named Purple Kush as one of the Top 10 Most Powerful Strains in the World in 2016!
This strain’s pure indica genetics provide its consumers with deep body relaxation and sedation. Medicinal consumers say that Purple Kush has potent analgesic properties, which may help to relieve the symptoms of colitis.
The earthy and sweet aroma of Purple Kush draws you in, but it’s the rich flavors that keep you coming back for more! With earthy and red wine tones, it is one of our favorites to smoke!
It is vital to keep Purple Kush’s potency in mind. This strain is so potent that it is not suitable for a novice cannabis consumer. Also, this strain has strong sedating and soporific effects. Therefore, it is only suitable for evening time use and consumption by a seasoned cannabis user.
Couch-lock is extremely likely with this strain, as are other adverse reactions. Some consumers have reported experiencing a headache, heightened paranoia, as well as dizziness after consuming this strain.
Final Thoughts on the 5 Best Cannabis Strains for Colitis
Colitis is one of the lesser-discussed conditions out there. This is a surprise considering how many people are affected by the disease in the US alone!
We hope that our top five strains help to alleviate the symptoms of those who have colitis. It is always tricky to pick just five strains; however, only the best of the best made our final list. Bear in mind that some of the strains on the list are incredibly potent and are not suitable for novice cannabis consumers.
Remember to consult a medical professional before changing or stopping a medication. We are not medical professionals, nor do we condone the use of cannabis in replacement of any prescribed medications.
Cannabis for the Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A True Medicine or a False Promise?
Cannabis is the most widely used recreational drug worldwide and is used by some patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to ameliorate their disease. Whereas epidemiological studies indicate that as many as 15% of IBD patients use cannabis, studies inspecting cannabis use in IBD are few and small. We have conducted several studies looking at the use of cannabis in IBD. In Crohn’s disease, we demonstrated that cannabis reduces the Crohn’s disease activity index (CDAI) by >100 points (on a scale of 0–450).Two small studies in ulcerative colitis showed a marginal benefit. However, no improvement was observed in inflammatory markers or in endoscopic score in either disease. Many questions regarding cannabis use in IBD remain unanswered. For example, cannabis is a complex plant containing many ingredients, and the synergism or antagonism between them likely plays a role in the relative efficacy of various cannabis strains. The optimal doses and mode of consumption are not determined, and the most common form of consumption, i.e. smoking, is unacceptable for delivering medical treatment. Cannabis is a psychotropic drug, and the consequences of long-term use are unknown. Despite all these limitations, public opinion regards cannabis as a harmless drug with substantial medical efficacy. In Israel, the number of licenses issued for the medical use of cannabis is rising rapidly, as are the acknowledged indications for such use, but good-quality evidence for the effectiveness of cannabis is still lacking. Further studies investigating the medical use of cannabis are urgently needed.
Cannabis is the most widely used recreational drug worldwide. The cannabis plant contains as many as 100 phytocannabinoids, as well as other ingredients such as terpenes and flavonoids. 1 The phytocannabinoids exert their effect through the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is an endogenous system with an important role in modulating mood, memory, reward homeostasis, immune regulation, and energy balance. 2 The best-known phytocannabinoids are Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), responsible for the psychotropic effect of cannabis, and cannabidiol (CBD), which does not have a central effect but was shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect. 3
REPORTS OF CANNABIS USE IN INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE
Many animal and laboratory studies demonstrated that cannabis can ameliorate inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 4 Consequently, there are many epidemiological studies and anecdotal reports about cannabis use in IBD patients. Various studies demonstrated that the prevalence of cannabis use among IBD patients varies between 12% and 15%, although a much higher percentage of patients (50%–60%) report ever using cannabis during their lifetime. 5 , 6 Patients claim that cannabis ameliorates their symptoms, including improvement in diarrhea, abdominal pain, and appetite 7 ; however, most studies contain no information about the dose and mode of cannabis consumption. We conducted an observational study of 127 IBD patients who were using cannabis by license from the Ministry of Health in Israel and found that most patients were satisfied with a monthly dose of 30 g and that 70% were consuming cannabis by smoking it, whereas the others were consuming it orally, mostly in the form of oil. 8 Nevertheless, since patients are using many different varieties of cannabis, with different content of cannabinoids, obtaining more accurate information is difficult.
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIALS OF CANNABIS IN IBD
In view of the many reports about cannabis use in IBD, it is surprising that very few randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have been conducted. Two Cochrane reviews found only three trials performed in Crohn’s disease 9 and only two in ulcerative colitis. 10 This can be partly explained by the fact that investigating cannabis use is inherently difficult. The large variations between different cannabis strains and the many different modes of cannabis consumption make properly standardized cannabis treatment hard to achieve.
In the first RCT, 21 Crohn’s disease patients were randomized to receive either cannabis flowers or a placebo containing 23% THC. A clinical response, defined as a decrease in the Crohn’s disease activity index (CDAI) by >100 points (on a scale of 0–450) was observed in 10/11 (91%) subjects in the cannabis group and 4/10 (40%) in the placebo group (P=0.028). 11 Another trial looking at the use of CBD for Crohn’s disease found no significant difference in the CDAI between the study and the placebo groups (220±122 and 216±121, respectively, P=NS). 12
The first RCT to report cannabis use in ulcerative colitis included 60 patients who received a CBD-rich cannabis botanical extract for 10 weeks. Remission rates were similar for the CBD (28%) and placebo (26%) groups. Although CBD is usually well tolerated, in this study side effects led to a 40% protocol deviation in the study group. 13 We performed a study of cannabis in ulcerative colitis at the Meir Medical Center, demonstrating that the disease activity index (Lichtiger score) after 8 weeks of cannabis treatment was 4 in cannabis participants compared with 8 in the placebo group (P between groups 0.001). 10
There are no studies regarding the maintenance of remission with cannabis in either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
The Israeli Gastroenterological Association issued recommendations for the use of cannabis in IBD. These were adopted by the Israeli Ministry of Health. These recommendations state that since the evidence of cannabis efficacy in IBD is still lacking, cannabis should be used only as a compassionate treatment in patients for whom the established forms of treatment have failed—that is, patients who still suffer from the active disease despite treatment by biologics, and who are not candidates for surgery.
REGULATION OF MEDICAL CANNABIS IN ISRAEL
Despite the lack of scientifically sound evidence, cannabis use is rapidly gaining popularity and legitimacy throughout the world. Medical cannabis treatment was introduced in Israel in 1994, but until 2001 it was approved for only 64 patients. During the last decade, pressure from the media and politicians, together with increasing awareness of physicians and patients, pushed the numbers up. Consequently, the number of permits increased from 12,000 in 2013 to 60,000 in 2019. New instructions published by the Ministry of Health allowed each specialist to recommend the treatment within the limits of his/her specialization. The recommendations were examined by qualified physicians in the Ministry, and 90% of the requests were granted. A license was sent to the patient specifying the dispensary allocated to them, the amount of cannabis, and the consumption method approved. The dispensary supplied cannabis to the patients and instructed them on how to use it. However, there was no specification of the strain of cannabis to be used or the content of THC allowed. Consequently, the treating physician ended up prescribing a treatment but having no control of the doses of the psychoactive substance the patient would consume. During those years more than 80,000 licenses were issued, and, at the time of writing, more than 50,000 are active.
Regarding the various indications for cannabis use so far, 40% of the patients were oncology patients, 30% suffered from intractable pain after the failure of all conventional treatments, and 2,000 patients (4%) were treated for post-traumatic stress disorder after failure of at least 3 years of all conventional, medical, and psychological treatments. More than 1,000 patients (2%) were treated for Crohn’s disease and 150 for ulcerative colitis. More than 1,000 patients (2%) were treated for fibromyalgia (an indication that brought a lot of professional objection). The other patients suffered from neurological disorders, autoimmune diseases, and others (data from M.D., former medical adviser to the Israeli Minister of Health on Cannabis).
THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH CANNABIS REFORM
Lately, in an attempt to define the prescription of cannabis more accurately, the Ministry of Health issued a list of allowed cannabis variations and is removing the dispensing of cannabis from cannabis producers to pharmacies. The allowed variations include flowers or oil, Cannabis sativa or C. indica, and various proportions of THC and CBD, ranging from 3% to 20%. Thus, the physician prescribing cannabis can define the exact dose of THC and CBD.
In parallel, during the last years, the Cannabis Unit of the Israeli Ministry of Health initiated a set of new regulations intended for quality control assurance. The previous system was based on a direct supply of cannabis from the grower to the patients. The new system included strict quality control, high manufacturing standards, and distribution of cannabis products through pharmacies.
A structured process of introducing new indications was initiated. The process is quite complicated, and the implementation was delayed by a court decision for several months.
In an effort to establish more scientifically sound evidence about the medical role of cannabis, a research committee, chaired by Professor Rafael Mechulam, approved more than 400 research projects, including 60 clinical studies. New research is evaluating the possible use of cannabis in the treatment of opioid addiction and the treatment of other psychiatric disorders. New indications explored in recent years include autism in children and intractable epilepsy of childhood; approximately 1,000 children in each group have been treated, with significant success. New ways of administration are being developed, starting from new inhalation devices, 14 and continuing with topical preparations for psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. 15 , 16 New manufacturing methods using nanotechnology are also being investigated.
The use of medical cannabis is rapidly increasing, and physicians are faced with an increasing demand from patients to prescribe it. Sadly, this is not accompanied by scientifically sound evidence regarding the efficacy, if any, of cannabis treatment. Very little is known about the effect of cannabis, the significance of various cannabinoid combinations, or the mode of cannabis consumption. On the other hand, we cannot afford to ignore the many reports about the positive effect of cannabis. The current treatment for IBD is successful in about 60% of patients, so if indeed there is a potential for another medication this should be explored using rigorous and scientifically sound methods. Only by conducting large well-designed randomized controlled trials will we be able to benefit from the potential of this plant.