Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Medical cannabis for inflammatory bowel disease: real-life experience of mode of consumption and assessment of side-effects.

Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2019

Timna Naftali 1 2, Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider 3, Fabiana Sklerovsky Benjaminov 1 2, Ido Lish 1 2, Fred M Konikoff 1 2, Yehuda Ringel 1 2

1Meir Medical Center Institute of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Kfar Saba; 2Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv; 3Soroka University Medical Centre and Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Israel.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (mainly Crohn’s and colitis) are chronic, debilitating, non-infectious, inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract. Conventional treatment consists of anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating drugs. However, the rate of response to currently available treatments is limited to 40–60%, and many patients remain symptomatic despite maximal medical treatment. This study, conducted in collaboration with the Gastroenterology Unit at Meir Medical Center, is a large-scale, long-term study that included data on patients licensed to treat medical cannabis with inflammatory bowel disease to determine the effect of cannabis on disease symptoms on long-term treatment as well as side effects. Most patients reported significant improvement in their symptoms and the use of other medications after 1 year of cannabis consumption was significantly reduced.

STUDY POPULATION: 127 Crohn’s and colitis patients who received a license for use of medical cannabis (86 males, mean age 39.6).

STUDY PRODUCT: Half of the patients in the study received the company’s products regularly.

RESULTS:  

• During the study period, 127 patients received a license to use medical cannabis and entered the study.

General improvement – the average Harvey-Bradshaw index, which measures the severity of the disease, improved from 14.0 to 7.0 (P <0.001).

Weight gain – During follow-up of 3.6 years (median 44 months), there was a slight but statistically significant weight gain of 2 kg.

Decrease in drug consumption – the need for other medications was significantly reduced.

Improve in employment rates – employment among patients increased from 65% to 74%.

• From the study it can be concluded that most Crohn’s and colitis patients using cannabis are satisfied with a dose of 30 gram per month.

• No negative effects of cannabis use were observed on the patients’ social or occupational status.

• The side effects described by the patients were mild. The most common were dry mouth (63%), memory decline (34%), eye irritation (14%), dizziness, (13%) confusion (9%), and restlessness (8%).

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