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What do you know about the therapeutic benefits of Cannabis oil?


Does cannabis oil affect gut inflammation? Can it be used to treat autism spectrum disorder? Discover more as we explore the dynamic world of medical cannabis.

Cannabis oil – which, when produced for medical purposes, contains carefully controlled amounts of the cannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – continues to be the subject of much debate. In 2018, medical cannabis became legal in the UK after a nationwide outpouring of support for two young boys who rely on cannabis oil to treat their severe and rare forms of epilepsy, but lingering concerns around the safety and efficiency of the medicine mean that access is still heavily restricted.

Here, Health Europa highlights two recent pieces of research which are adding to the evidence base on the therapeutic benefits of cannabis oil.

Does cannabis oil affect gut inflammation?

Cannabis oil significantly improves both the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and patients’ quality of life, but, contrary to previous medical thinking, does not affect inflammation in the gut.

This is according to a first-of-its-kind, randomised controlled study by researchers in Israel, who enrolled 46 people with moderately severe Crohn’s disease – a type of inflammatory bowel disease – and treated them with either a placebo or cannabis oil containing 15% CBD and 4% THC.1

The researchers measured participants’ symptom severity and quality of life before, during and after treatment using validated research instruments, and assessed inflammation in the gut endoscopically and by measuring inflammatory markers in blood and stool samples.

“Cannabis has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of medical conditions, and studies have shown that many people with Crohn’s disease use cannabis regularly to relieve their symptoms,” explains lead researcher Dr Timna Naftali, a gastroenterology specialist at Meir Hospital and Kupat Holim Clinic.

“It has always been thought that this improvement was related to a reduction in inflammation in the gut, and the aim of this study was to investigate this.”

Results of the treatment

The results were surprising: after eight weeks of treatment, the group receiving cannabis oil had seen a significant improvement in their quality of life and a substantial reduction in their symptoms compared to the placebo group. 65% of the former met strict criteria for clinical remission, compared to just 35% of the latter.

However, these improvements did not seem to be caused by a suppression of the underlying inflammatory process.

“We have previously demonstrated that cannabis can produce measurable improvements in Crohn’s disease symptoms, but, to our surprise, we saw no statistically significant improvements in endoscopic scores or in the inflammatory markers we measured in the cannabis oil group compared with the placebo group,” explains Naftali.

“We know that cannabinoids can have profound anti-inflammatory effects, but this study indicates that the improvement in symptoms may not be related to these anti-inflammatory properties.”

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