CBD For Crohn’s Disease: How CBD Oil Helps Manage My Chronic Illness

Editor’s Note: This is the first of our new series of first person accounts of how CBD oil has helped people. In this article, writer Annalise Mabe explains how she uses CBD for Crohn’s disease. — KO

I sat in the gastroenterologist’s office at seventeen after a marathon of blood tests, -oscopies, and exams when my GI handed me photos of my intestines and told me I had Crohn’s disease, a chronic form of inflammatory bowel disease characterized by inflammation and scarring of the intestine.

That was nearly ten years ago, and now, at twenty-eight, a lot has changed. I survived a major surgery, ventured into the world of biologic treatments, and began to explore CBD after reading that it may help patients with Crohn’s manage their symptoms, namely pain and anxiety.

THE COST OF CROHN’S

For me, Crohn’s had not been a serious problem until last year when it took 3 trips to the ER for doctors to realize that I needed a major surgery. Twelve inches of my small intestine had become inflamed and obstructed over time due to Crohn’s and had to be removed. At the same time, my GI started me on Remicade, a biologic drug infusion. Remicade can range from $1,300-$2,500 per single infusion without health insurance.

The past year has been whirlwind of medical emergencies, huge bills, automated phone calls to customer service agents, and lots and lots of anxiety. What if I somehow lose health insurance? What if I go in debt trying to afford health care? What if my body fails me again? What if I need another surgery? These are the questions that swirl in my head late at night, keeping me from being able to sleep.

A hand types on a laptop keyboard. Annalise Mabe shared her struggles with the anxiety and chronic pain caused by Crohn's disease, which led others to share their experiences with CBD oil.

Annalise Mabe shared her struggles with the anxiety and chronic pain caused by Crohn’s disease, which led others to share their experiences with CBD oil.

During these months, I wrote publicly on social media about having Crohn’s, updating friends, family members, and online acquaintances about my trek through the medical world. I took photos at my infusions and openly wrote about how I was afraid, that it wasn’t easy, and that it was okay to talk about these things. It wasn’t long before several friends and online acquaintances reached out me to share studies and articles they’d found about CBD and Crohn’s symptoms as well as their own personal experiences about using CBD to curb pain and anxiety.

Like the good student I am, I read up on all I could find. Then, after one friend’s encouragement, I applied for and then received my medical cannabis card thanks to the Florida Department of Health. With my card, I could purchase 10 mg CBD capsules from a reputable dispensary.

HOW USING CBD OIL FOR CROHN’S DISEASE HELPS ME

This was the beginning, and I should say that by no means is CBD oil a cure for Crohn’s disease.

Some people come from a totally holistic mindset and think that changing your diet or exercising is all you need to combat Crohn’s, but, in my case, I’ve needed medicine, too. While changing your diet and exercising can reduce some inflammation, it can’t combat what a body with Crohn’s is actually doing, which is producing a surplus amount of TNF-alphas which lead to more inflammation in the body.

Because Crohn’s is genetic and is thought to be an autoimmune disease, no amount of exercise, diet, or CBD oil will cure it. Used as a supplemental method, however, CBD helps to curb what are arguably the worst parts of having Crohn’s: the psychological burden/worry, abdominal pain, and overall anxiety.

THE SCIENCE BEHIND CBD OIL FOR CROHN’S DISEASE

New research is coming out daily on the science of CBD. It’s clear that we are just discovering the tip of the iceberg in terms of how CBDs work and interact with different mental and physical ailments.

The New York Times recently investigated the surge of CBD. Reporters spoke with Dr. Esther Blessing, an assistant professor at NYU’s School of Medicine who said: “CBD is the most promising drug that has come out for neuropsychiatric disease in the last fifty years.”

Dr. Blessing is currently working on a new study that looks at the use of CBD as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol use disorder and went on to explain: “The reason it is so promising is that it has a unique combination of safety and effectiveness across a very broad range of conditions.”

In another controlled study forthcoming in the journal PAIN and written about in Forbes, CBD was found to “alleviate both pain and anxiety, two symptoms often associated in neuropathic or chronic pain,” in animal models according to the study’s first author Danilo De Gregorio. This study focuses on how CBD interacts with the specific receptors that deliver pain and anxiety. Ultimately, it suggests CBD can act as a non-addictive, safe form of medicine in the treatment of pain and anxiety.

A gloved scientist with a vial of CBD and a hemp leaf. 'Full spectrum' extracts contain more cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial chemicals found in hemp & cannabis. A growing body of scientific research suggests CBD oil can reduce symptoms of inflammation, chronic pain and anxiety, and could even reduce the damage cause by some intestinal diseases.

A growing body of scientific research suggests CBD oil can reduce symptoms of inflammation, chronic pain and anxiety, and could even reduce the damage cause by some intestinal diseases.

While many studies are focusing on how CBD interacts with psychological ailments, one study authored by Dianele De Filippis et al. looks at intestinal inflammation. Researchers found that CBD may actually “counteract the inflammatory environments” in patients with Ulcerative Colitis (Crohn’s’ cousin), which can reduce and mediate the amount of intestinal damage. The findings of this study actually suggest that there are benefits from CBD for both Crohn’s and UC patients beyond the moderation of symptoms. This could be huge for the future treatment of Crohn’s and UC.

THE RISE OF CBD FOR HEALTH

The rising popularity of CBD is hard to ignore. CBD is offered in capsule, tincture, gummy form and are even being added to luxury confections by high-end boutique retailer Lord Jones.

Many people are taking to online forums to share how CBD is working for them by reducing their anxiety like one reddit user who wrote: “CBD changed my life for the better.”

Now that CBD is being offered more widely across the country, it’s becoming more accessible to people who are suffering from chronic pain and the anxiety that oftentimes accompanies us on the journey towards remission. While researchers may be on the frontiers of CBD research, it’s clear to see that cannabinoids are proving to be effective in moderating pain and anxiety, allowing people with chronic illness to find, at least, some solace and relief.

Annalise Mabe

Annalise Mabe is a writer, teacher, and graphic designer from Tampa, Florida. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of South Florida where she currently teaches professional and technical writing.

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Latest Comments

  • Avatar lee says:

    I have had crohns now for 15 years. Ive had the odd flare up here and there. But this last year i drank a lactolose laxitive and have been in chronic pain every day for a whole year. Ive taken steroids to help with my pain. Ive taken asacol tablets nothing is helping me and im getting to a real low point in my life now because of the constant pain im in. Does c.b.d really work and can some one please give me directions were to buy the best c.b.d oil from. Thank you.

  • Avatar Erisna says:

    Hi, i have cronhs disease and would like to go over to using cbd oil. How do i know how much/ doses should i be taking?

    • Avatar Kathy says:

      Erisna, I would love to offer a little guidance. It’s primarily important for you to make sure that you are taking the absolute BEST product out there and there are a lot of people trying to make money off of people like you by selling junk.

      Please make sure that when you purchase, that your CBD oil has just 2-3 ingredients. #1 – it should absolutely be derived from PURE HEMP OIL. That will be the #1 ingredient. The only other ingredient should be the CBD’s (some companies list them as an ingredient and some list only the % but not shown in the ingredients list because technically they come from the same Hemp that the Hemp Oil does); and lastly, they may list a flavor as an ingredient. I believe that if the CBD’s are derived from Hemp and then put into vegetable oil, olive oil, or any other carrier oil or chemical, they are not giving the CBD’s the most ability to do what they are really capable of. The best delivery oil is the Hemp Oil itself.

      Beyond that, there are a multitude of way of taking CBD’s. Gummies, pastes, coffees, oils… My personal belief is that they are best absorbed into the human body by taking the oil sublingually (under the tongue) as they directly enter the blood stream first vs. having to go through the entire body and digestive system first. If you buy an oil, make sure that whoever sells you that oil will guide you on proper dosage. Every oil is different, but it’s important to start with a low dose and then increase slowly so as not to shock your system. A good company will have a consultant available for you to speak with at every step of the way from choosing your mg intake to how many drops over what period of time. It has a lot to do with what other medications you take, your build, your exposure to THC in the past, etc.

      When people jump on Amazon and buy a fancy bottle and then take the “recommended dose” without consulting an expert, it can make them very sick. It’s not because the CBD oil isn’t working for them, it’s more likely that it’s A) junk or B) that they took it incorrectly.

      I wish I could offer you what I sell, but this is not meant to be a marketing website for a particular company — or if you see bottles advertised here — it’s still up to you to do your due diligence as I said above.

      Also, ask your GI doc how he/she feels about you taking it. He may well have done the research for you, or perhaps you can help educate him on what you learned here. The worst I have run into when asking doctors is A) they don’t know enough and are skeptical (perhaps you can show them a success story!) or B) they admit that it cannot hurt or worse still C) they are jaded because they have experience with CRAP that doesn’t work. I really believe that most doctors, especially GI docs, are starting to get on board and support THE RIGHT CBD oil for treatment.

      This is a great website with a wealth of good info. I wish you all the best in your treatment.

      • Avatar Judy Paul says:

        I was hoping CBD would help my Crohns but it doesn’t seem to. I guess I am out of luck. It says it can cause diarrhea and it did.

        • Avatar Juanita says:

          Hi Judy. It sounds like to me the Oil you were using had fillers and was not pure. Fillers such as MCT Oil and Coconut Oil will cause diarrhea. It is very important to get a pure full spectrum hemp CBD Oil. I have read many studies and testimonies with people getting great relief from their symptoms using the pure oil. If you would like to know how to find the best ones out there let me know and I will point you in the right direction.