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Overview of Ulcerative Colitis

UC is a mucous membrane inflammation of the colon and is often characterized by abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea and cramping rectal pain. Ulcerative colitis was the first subordinate type of IBD identified as a distinct entity. Therefore, the early history of inflammatory bowel disease is the chronicle of ulcerative colitis. This doesn't mean that UC appeared before CD, as patients were probably suffering from both conditions long before modern medicine could distinguish them.

Physicians made reports of chronic diarrhea that dated as far back as Greek antiquity. Many causes of diarrhea were discussed even by Hippocrates (~460–370 BCE). The prevalence of gut inflammation was featured in medical schools in the early 19th century, and both John Brown (1810-1882) and François-Joseph-Victor Broussais (1772-1838 CE) generated theories that all diseases came from GI tract inflammation.

In 1859, a case report stated that Sir Samuel Wilks (1824-1911) was the first doctor who came up with the term “ulcerative colitis” to describe a condition similar to what we today call “UC.”

Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Ulcerative Colitis

Although there have only been a few high-quality studies that researchers have conducted for marijuana and inflammatory bowel disease and its impact on patients, there is compelling evidence on its safety and effectiveness as an UC treatment.

To further understand why medical pot is beneficial for patients with Ulcerative Colitis, it's useful for you to have knowledge of your endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system helps your body regulate:

  • Appetite

  • Pain

  • Mood

  • Memory

  • Immune function

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) motility

  • Stress response

  • Emotions


Your ECS is a complex combination of endocannabinoids. These are the cannabinoids that your body naturally produces. These endocannabinoids stimulate the cannabinoid receptors of your body, which are located in various areas of your body like your GI tract, brain, fat and muscles.

The use of medical marijuana is directly associated with a reduction in Crohn's disease activity and the lessening of symptoms related to other gastrointestinal conditions. IBD patients have been found to have higher levels of cannabinoid receptors in their colonic tissues. Due to this, patients who suffer from this condition and choose to use this alternative treatment method are usually presented with the reducing of symptoms and alleviating any inflammation in the body. Intestinal inflammation is directly affected and lessens in a timely manner.

When you ingest THC and CBD, they fit into these same receptors, since they're similar to endocannabinoids. They trigger reactions that lead to either very low or high levels of specific molecules that your cells of your brain use to communicate to each other (neurotransmitters). 

An uncontrolled survey study showed that patients who used medical pot for several months reported weight gain and BMI. This is ideal for IBD patients since their symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting can lead to weight loss and malnutrition. They also reported improved social functioning, general health perception, physical pain, depression, the ability to work and a decrease in disease activity.

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