Background: The marijuana plant cannabis is known to have therapeutic effects, including improvement of inflammatory processes. However, no report of patients using cannabis for Crohn's disease (CD) was ever published.
Objectives: To describe the effects of cannabis use in patients suffering from CD.
Methods: In this retrospective observational study we examined disease activity, use of medication, need for surgery, and hospitalization before and after cannabis use in 30 patients (26 males) with CD. Disease activity was assessed by the Harvey Bradshaw index for Crohn's disease.
Results: Of the 30 patients 21 improved significantly after treatment with cannabis. The average Harvey Bradshaw index improved from 14 +/- 6.7 to 7 +/- 4.7 (P < 0.001). The need for other medication was significantly reduced. Fifteen 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.
Conclusions: 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. Prospective placebo-controlled studies are warranted to fully evaluate the efficacy and side effects of cannabis in CD.