Last Tuesday was World IBD Day. Each year May 19 is meant to signify the worldwide fight against Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (known as inflammatory bowel disease or IBD), and help unite patients around the world. The date has some personal significance for me because it also happens to be right around the anniversary of my Crohn’s diagnosis. 18 years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and life hasn’t been the same since.
What is IBD?
IBD (which is often confused with IBS or irritable bowel syndrome) is not common. You may have never heard of it, apart from the occasional commercial advertising one of many new pharmaceuticals now available that are designed for managing the condition. Rather than bore you with medical facts and figures regarding what Crohn’s disease entails, I’ll provide the general overview I tend to give whenever people ask:
At its best, Crohn’s is, at least in my case, like having a dull ache in your gut every second of the day combined with varying levels of fatigue that can leave you flat on your back at any time. At its worst, Crohn’s is like having the most severe abdominal pain you’ve ever had in your entire life — multiplied by a thousand — combined with extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting, unrelenting diarrhea (yes, IBD can be quite scatological), chills, sweats, and fever along with an infection or two for good measure.
When you’re having a “flare,” your body’s immune system is essentially attacking itself, and the inflammatory response is significantly increased. That’s essentially what IBD entails — an overactive immune system and chronic inflammation.
The most effective drugs currently available to manage Crohn’s & colitis are known as biologics. In essence, they take an overactive immune system that attacks itself and turn it off. They work fairly well, depending on the patient, and are widely viewed as far more effective than the previous go-to options of oral steroids or anti-inflammatory medications.
Can CBD Help Manage Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis?
The operative word in all of the above is ‘inflammation.’ Biologics work well at reducing chronic inflammation, and therefore reducing IBD symptoms. But their efficacy can vary from patient-to-patient, leaving many, including myself, looking for something supplemental. Without meaning to oversimplify, the basic goal in managing Crohn’s disease comes down to reducing inflammation. Whether it’s anti-inflammatory foods or supplements, patients are constantly being told to make efforts to reduce inflammation whenever possible.
A couple of years ago I came across an article examining the anti-inflammatory benefits of cannabidiol/CBD. Intrigued, I purchased a number of CBD products (while keeping my team of physicians apprised). I was skeptical, but when you’ve had a chronic disease for several years that has landed you in the hospital over 45 times, you’re willing to give virtually anything a try.
What struck me from the outset of trying each of the four products was:
- How effective two were at reducing my chronic IBD symptoms like abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety.
- How ineffective the other two were — and that there was no correlation between the price of the product, its effectiveness, and the reviews that were available online.
With two of the products proving effective for me, I started using CBD regularly. Combined with the biologic medicine I was taking, I was feeling better than I had in years. And, as is often the case with Crohn’s patients, when you find something that works for you, you want to let others battling the disease know in the hope that it might help them as well. I’ve been recommending CBD to anyone I know with Crohn’s or colitis ever since.
What Scientific Evidence Exists for Using CBD for Crohn’s Disease?
A study from the University of Nottingham in England found that cannabinoid and cannabinoid-like compounds have been shown to reduce intestinal permeability in vivo, and may be potentially useful in the treatment of IBD and related conditions
A University of Massachusetts study examining the anti-inflammatory activities of all classes of cannabinoids showed some extremely promising results.
A New York University School of Medicine study examining cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders also showed some excellent results.
Intestinal permeability, chronic inflammation, and anxiety are all common contributing symptoms to flare ups and deteriorating conditions. Through the use of CBD I’ve found that by successfully reducing multiple individual symptoms, the state of a chronic illness like Crohn’s disease, and your overall quality of life, can dramatically improve.
How Can I Ensure that the CBD Product I Choose is High Quality?
It should be noted that the purpose of this blog is not to push CBD as any sort of cure or substitute for whatever course of treatment your gastroenterologist has prescribed. Rather, it’s meant to offer information on a potentially effective supplemental option that can provide additional relief beyond pharmaceuticals.
That said, as a new CBD company seems to pop up every few minutes, it’s important to ensure that if you do decide to try CBD for Crohn’s, colitis, or any inflammatory disease, you choose a quality product.
In my own experience, this was essentially a matter of trial and error in the beginning. The purity and effectiveness of products varied greatly when I initially started using CBD, and spending what can easily amount to hundreds of dollars on products that prove to be ineffective can be incredibly frustrating.
The great thing about Naia CBD is that they only carry quality products that are tested and certified. In addition to providing outstanding and knowledgeable customer support, you can be certain that if a Naia representative recommends a product, it’s of the highest quality. Whatever type of CBD product you prefer — from capsules, to tinctures, to edibles, to patches — you can find the exact type to suit your needs through Naia.
I started using CBD upon hearing of the potential anti-inflammatory benefits, hoping it might help improve some of my lingering symptoms that are not always kept under control by biologics like abdominal pain, fatigue, stress, sleep, and nausea. Keeping chronic inflammation — which is a killer that exacerbates myriad diseases including Crohn’s, diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, cancer, and more — under control can provide countless benefits to one’s health. CBD has been proven to dramatically reduce inflammation in many cases.
Hence, as an individual who has struggled with Crohn’s disease for nearly two decades, I hope that you can find a quality CBD product that works for you, and discover some of the many benefits I’ve been fortunate to experience.