According to scientists, the inflammatory bowel diseases Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease could be effectively treated with cannabis-derived chemicals.
Cannabinoids THC and cannabidiol, which can be found in the cannabis plant, have been shown to interact with the body’s system that regulates gut function in laboratory tests.
Chrohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
One in 250 people in Northern Europe has Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. These conditions are caused by both genetic and environmental factors. A defective immune response is thought to result from a combination of other triggers, such as diet, stress, or bacterial imbalance, as well as a genetic susceptibility.
At The British Pharmacological Society’s Winter Meeting in London, Dr. Karen Wright, Peel Trust Lecturer in Biomedicine at Lancaster University, presented the research that will soon be published.
She stated: In people with Crohn’s disease, the lining of the intestines acts as a barrier against the gut contents; however, this barrier leaks, allowing bacteria to enter the intestinal tissue and trigger an inappropriate immune response.
“We might be able to reduce the inflammatory immune response that causes these chronic conditions if we could find a way to restore barrier integrity in patients.”
Cannabis’ effects on gut functioning in Chron’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
In collaboration with colleagues at the School of Graduate Entry Medicine and Health in Derby, Dr. Wright has demonstrated that cells that respond to cannabinoids are crucial to both the immune system’s inflammatory response and normal gut function.
Dr. Wright stated, “The body produces its own cannabinoid molecules, called endocannabinoids. We have shown that these molecules increase the permeability of the epithelium during inflammation, suggesting that overproduction may be harmful.”
“However, we were able to reverse this process using cannabinoids derived from plants, which appeared to enable the epithelial cells to form tighter bonds with one another and restore the membrane barrier,” the researchers stated.
Although the research was carried out with cell cultures that were grown in a dish, it is interesting to note that, when the team attempted to replicate the conditions of the gut by reducing the amount of oxygen that was present in the environment of the cells, much lower concentrations of cannabinoids were required to achieve the same result.
Dr. Wright elaborated: Cannabidiol, which has also proven to be effective in restoring membrane integrity, does not possess psychoactive properties, which is encouraging. While THC is responsible for the “high” people get from using cannabis, it does not possess these properties.