Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Week 2018


No matter your ethnicity, age, or gender, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) can affect anyone. Falling under IBD collectively, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are painful and incurable diseases that attack one’s digestive system, causing abdominal pain, weight loss, rectal bleeding, and other severe symptoms. While Crohn’s Disease can attack anywhere on the digestive tract, Ulcerative Colitis causes inflammation of only the large intestine, or colon. However, in many cases, the GI tract is not the only area affected. IBD can also impact patients’ joints, skin, bones, kidneys, liver, eyes, and emotional health.

Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week, which falls annually from December 1-7,  was recognized by the US government in 2011. The week brings acknowledgement and awareness to the physical, emotional, and financial turmoil caused by Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. This week also lends commendation to the health care professionals who care for patients and work to advance treatments.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.6 million Americans are living with a form of IBD. Although there is no known cause of Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, there are various treatment options available. These treatments include prescription medications, surgery, and dietary restrictions. Unfortunately, with these options come unwanted side effects such as upper respiratory infections, headaches, nauseas, etc. Due to the nature of this condition patients are often left to manage it on their own.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America stated that experimental research has shown that endocannabinoids, or molecules found in the body, closely mimic the compounds found in marijuana, and have the potential to limit intestinal inflammation.  Patients with these diseases have been known to have higher levels of cannabinoid receptors in their colonic tissues, increasing the likelihood of a positive response to the anti-inflammatory properties of medical marijuana. Many have reported that using these products have relieved IBD symptoms, particularly those who have undergone abdominal surgery, suffer from chronic pain and/or a low quality of life.  

If you or someone you know is suffering from IBD, and is looking for a medical alternative, it is important to reach out to and consult with a Department of Health approved recommending physician to determine if the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program is an appropriate option for you.