Ulcerative colitis - UC (Latin. colitis ulcerosa) is a chronic disease that has an immunological basis. It results in inflammation of the mucosa of the colon and rectum. Up to 50,000 people in Poland may suffer from UC.
Ulcerative colitis - causes, symptoms, treatment
UC occurs when both food and bacteria in the digestive tract begin to be perceived by the body as enemies. White blood cells are then sent to the intestinal mucosa. This is due to the immune system misreading the processes that are going on correctly, and the result is that the immune system reacts incorrectly to this. And this reaction is what causes the ulceration of the colon and chronic inflammation.
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis are:
- abdominal pain,
- mucus in the stool,
- rectal bleeding,
- loss of appetite and weight loss,
- chronic fatigue and lack of energy.
UC is one of the diseases that belong to the inflammatory bowel disease group. Unfortunately, its symptoms are often in remission, i.e. dormant for months or even years. However, they always return eventually. It is a difficult disease to diagnose, if only because of its similarity to Crohn's disease. Treatment is also not straightforward.
Doctors concentrate primarily on reducing the inflammation that persists in the large intestine and controlling the extremely troublesome symptoms. Primarily 5-aminosalicylic acid preparations (e.g. mesalazine) are used. But it does not stop there. For much depends on the symptoms themselves. Glucocorticosteroids and immunosuppressants are therefore also frequently used. In extreme cases, surgery is required, during which part or even the entire large intestine is removed.
Hemp oil for ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a difficult disease to treat, so research has begun into natural ways of dealing with the unpleasant condition. However, researchers have focused primarily on cannabis (THC) in the context of treating ulcerative colitis. But in doing so, they also investigated the effects of other cannabinoids on the disease. Cannabidiol (CBD), which, unlike THC, is not a psychoactive substance, played a not insignificant role. Research on CBD itself has also been conducted, but is unfortunately not as numerous.
In laboratory and later animal studies, cannabis and other cannabinoids were found to reduce inflammation, offering great hope to patients with UC. A significant anti-inflammatory effect of CBD was detected in mice.
There are also known studies in which cannabidiol (CBD) has played a major role in the context of ulcerative colitis treatment. These are namely the studies conducted at Lancaster University by a team of researchers led by Dr Karen Wright. Well, this team demonstrated in laboratory studies that the cells that ensure the normal functioning of the intestines show significant sensitivity to the effects of precisely cannabidiol, i.e. oil containing CBD, for example.
What is it? Well, the human body itself produces cannabinoids, which are called endocannabinoids. During inflammation, it is the endocannabinoids that increase the permeability of the intestinal epithelium. In a word, their overproduction is detrimental to the intestines. And this is where scientists have shown that this phenomenon can be counteracted by supplying the body with plant cannabinoids, so-called phytocannabinoids, in this case CBD.
This cannabidiol works by forming tighter connections between the cells of the intestinal mucosa, thereby restoring the mucosa's ability to be an airtight protective barrier. And it acts as a barrier to harmful compounds and micro-organisms entering the body with food. In people who are affected by ulcerative colitis, this barrier is not airtight which causes harmful bacteria to seep in, resulting in severe inflammation. Indeed, it appears that introducing hemp oil into the diet is able to alleviate the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
This research has shown the value of using CBD oil not only when UC is already present, but also prophylactically, as cannabidiol is excellent at protecting the intestines from intestinal disease.
However, it is important to remember that although cannabidiol does not cause any significant side effects on its own, it does have an impact on the pharmacological agents taken. It can, for example, slow down or weaken their effect. So if you are taking medication, the intention of using CBD oils must be reported to the attending physician.
- "The endogenous cannabinoid system protects against colonic inflammation", authors Federico Massa, Giovanni Marsicano, Heike Hermann; 2004; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC385396/
- "Cannabidiol for Inflammatory Bowel Disease"; by Naftali Timana, Meir Medical Center; 2009; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01037322?term=CBD&cond=IBD&rank=2
- "Cannabis in the treatment of ulcerative colitis"; authors: Tahir S Kafil, Tran M Nguyen, John K MacDonald, Nilesh Chande; 2018; https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD012954.pub2/full/pl
- Dr Karen Wright, Senior Lecturer 'Research Review'; Lancaster University; https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/health-and-medicine/about-us/people/karen-wright