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Clinical Trial Shows Association Between Cannabis Inhalation and Improvement in Ulcerative Colitis

doctor holding cannabis in his hand

A new study shows that the inhalation of cannabis could be linked to improvements and better quality of life for those with ulcerative colitis. The trial, titled “Cannabis is associated with clinical but not endoscopic remission in ulcerative colitis: A randomized controlled trial,”  was published in the PLoS One journal and outlines the effects of high-THC cannabis use on ulcerative colitis.

The study was carried out by researchers in Israel, who looked at how inhaling herbal cannabis impacted ulcerative colitis patients over a period of eight weeks, with continued, steady, use. It used a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled method to ensure the data would be accurate and unbiased, and the patients would not know what they were getting. The cannabis inhaled contained either 16 percent THC or virtually no THC. The patients also kept taking standard medication.

“Survey data indicate that cannabis use is relatively common among patients with inflammatory bowel diseases and observational data has previously shown that cannabis may alleviate symptoms of certain IBD-related disorders, like Crohns,” the study explained regarding the meanings behind looking into ulcerative colitis and cannabis use, and the reason the research is important. 

This research was initially undertaken, those behind the study claim, because while many with ulcerative colitis use cannabis to help manage symptoms, there are not many controlled studies on the effects. The goal was to see how effective cannabis is with helping reduce inflammation and other symptoms.

“From a clinical perspective, we found that treatment with cannabis led to a significant reduction in the Lichtiger Disease Activity Index and improvement in major IBD-related clinical symptoms including abdominal pain and number of bowel movements per day,” the results from the study claimed regarding the findings. “We also observed a significant improvement in quality of life, general health, appetite, libido, concentration, and patient satisfaction with the treatment.”

THC and Inflammation

Overall, the researchers concluded that the study did show a connection between THC-containing cannabis use and improvement in ulcerative colitis symptoms.

“This study demonstrates that treatment with THC-rich cannabis in patients with mild to moderate UC is associated with clinical improvement,” the study. “This preliminary observation requires additional investigation in larger and longer intervention clinical studies. Such studies will enable us to determine whether cannabis has mainly a symptom relieving role or a more specific anti-inflammatory therapeutic effect.”

Further, it suggested that treatment with THC-rich cannabis, at least in the short term, could be beneficial for patients. 

“Short term treatment with THC rich cannabis induced clinical remission and improved quality of life in patients with mild to moderately active ulcerative colitis. However, these beneficial clinical effects were not associated with significant anti-inflammatory improvement in the Mayo endoscopic score or laboratory markers for inflammation.”

While more research still needs to be done on ulcerative colitis and how cannabis use can help treat it, this study paves the way for more research on the healing properties of THC and the power it has to reduce inflammation for those with certain conditions. At least in the short term, it has proven to be effective in treating UC.

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