There is nothing inherently wrong when your body deals with inflammation; it’s part of the body’s natural defenses. The immune system goes on high alert when it recognized pathogens, irritants or damaged cells, and inflammation is part of the way it begins the healing process.
But chronic inflammation is something else again.
The medical community recognizes the symptoms of normal, healthy inflammation by the acronym PRISH (pain, redness, immobility, swelling and heat). Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, shows itself in a variety of different ways for which there is no generally recognized acronym, including fatigue, mouth sores, chest pain, abdominal pain, fever, rash and joint pain.
And while inflammation is part of the body’s natural defense mechanism, chronic inflammation is nothing less than an attack on the body. It can cause several diseases and conditions, including some cancers and rheumatoid arthritis.
There are plenty of drugs available in any pharmacy to combat inflammation that are generally safe and reliable, including aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. A good cold compress can work wonders, too. On the other hand, overuse of the pharmacy drugs can have their own downside. There are warnings against the long-term use of ibuprofen, which can cause ulcers, induce both liver and kidney damage when taken over extended periods of time in large doses, which some of those with chronic inflammation do.
There is increasing evidence that cannabis can fill the void of those over-the-counter drugs.
Cannabis Is Anti Inflammatory
The National Institute of Health (NIH) described cannabinoids as “potent anti-inflammatory agents” in a recent study. It points to the fact that marijuana has been used medically in multiple cultures for centuries with beneficial effects. In the same report, researchers say that cannabinoid pharmacology has “made important advances in recent years after the discovery of the cannabinoid receptors (CCB1 and CB2).”
At the same time, the journal Future Science points to multiple studies that “constitute a potent treatment modality against inflammatory disorders.”
The cannabinoid receptor CB1 has been shown to predominantly work in the brain, and CB2, is primarily found dealing with the immune system. Researchers say the fact that both CB1 and CB2 receptors have been discovered on immune cells suggest that cannabinoids can play an important role in the regulation of the immune system.
The studies suggest that the chemicals found in cannabis may be able to discover where and when the immune system out of control and help calm inflammatory responses at the site of the problem.
Medical Cannabis for Crohn’s Disease and IBD
In particular, the studies seem to show that cannabis as being especially impactful for those suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which covers a wide range of ailments centered around the colon. Among those are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease when treated with medical cannabis.
But much work remains to be done. As professor Randy Mrsny, from the University of Bath’s Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, recently told Britain’s The Independent: “We need to be clear that while marijuana users have reported cannabis relieves symptoms of IBD, we have only worked in mice and have not proven this experimentally in humans.
“However, our results may provide a mechanistic explanation for anecdotal data that cannabinoid exposure benefits some colitis patients.”
The NIH study concludes by saying “Cannabinoids are potent anti-inflammatory agents and they exert their effects through induction of apoptosis, inhibition of cell proliferation, suppression of cytokine production and induction of T-regulatory cells (Tregs).
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