Inflammatory Bowel DiseaseMarijuana (Cannabinoids)

Treating Crohn’s disease with cannabis

Researchers at Tel Aviv University, in Ramat Aviv, Israel, describe the effects of cannabis use in patients suffering from Crohn’s disease.

First, the details.

  • The medical records from 30 patients with Crohn’s disease were reviewed for disease activity, use of medication, need for surgery, and hospitalization before and after cannabis use.
  • Disease activity was assessed by the Harvey Bradshaw index for Crohn’s disease.

And, the results.

  • Of the 30 patients, 21 improved significantly after treatment with cannabis.
  • The average Harvey Bradshaw index improved significantly from 14 to 7.
  • The need for other medication was significantly reduced.
  • 15 of the patients had 19 surgeries during an average period of 9 years before cannabis use, but only 2 required surgery during an average period of 3 years of cannabis use.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “This is the first report of cannabis use in Crohn’s disease in humans. The results indicate that cannabis may have a positive effect on disease activity, as reflected by reduction in disease activity index and in the need for other drugs and surgery.”

For background and perspective, the authors acknowledge there may be population bias in that some people may be more attracted to the possibility of smoking cannabis than others. This might explain the over-representation of young males in the population. Also, there may be patients who tried cannabis and whose condition did not improve. They would be lost to follow-up and not be represented in this type of study.

A prospective, double-blind study is needed.

10/24/11 20:59 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.