Aims: Despite reports that medical cannabis improves symptoms in Crohn's disease [CD], controlled studies evaluating disease response are lacking. This study assessed the effect of cannabidiol [CBD]-rich cannabis oil for induction of remission in CD.
Methods: In a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, single-centre trial, patients received orally either cannabis oil containing160/40 mg/ml cannabidiol/tetrahydrocannabinol [CBD/THC] or placebo for 8 weeks. Disease parameters, including the CD activity index [CDAI], and simple endoscopic score for CD [SES-CD], were assessed before and after treatment. In a subgroup of patients, blood samples were collected for CBD and THC plasma levels.
Results: The study included 56 patients, age 34.5 ± 11 years, men/women 30/26 [54/46%],30 in cannabis and 26 in placebo groups. CDAI at recruitment and after 8 weeks was 282 (interquartile range [IQR] 243-342) and 166 [IQR 82-226], and 264 [IQR 234-320] and 237 [IQR 121-271] [p <0.05] in the cannabis and placebo groups, respectively. Median quality of life [QOL] score improved from 74 for both groups at baseline to 91 [IQR 85-102] and 75 [IQR 69-88] after 8 weeks in the cannabis and placebo groups, respectively [p = 0.004]. SES-CD was 10 [IQR 7-14] and 11 [IQR7-14], and 7 [4-14] and 8 [IQR 4-12] [p = 0.75] before and after treatment, in the cannabis and placebo groups, respectively. Inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein [CRP], calprotectin) remained unchanged.
Conclusions: Eight weeks of CBD-rich cannabis treatment induced significant clinical and QOL improvement without significant changes in inflammatory parameters or endoscopic scores. The oral CBD-rich cannabis extract was well absorbed. Until further studies are available, cannabis treatment in Crohn's disease should be used only in the context of clinical trials.
Keywords: Crohn’s disease; cannabidiol; cannabis.
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