Recent studies suggest that medical cannabis can have a ‘significant’ impact on the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Researchers exploring the effects of cannabis on those with IBD, including Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis believe the plant has ‘therapeutic potential’ that ‘must not be neglected’.
Dr. Timna Naftali, gastroenterologist at the University of Tel Aviv, was the first person to explore the effect of medicinal cannabis on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and has studied its impact on both Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis patients.
Writing in the ‘Overview of cannabis-based treatment in Crohn’s disease’ published earlier this, Dr Naftali noted that to date there have only been three small placebo controlled studies.
Two of these showed ‘significant clinical improvement’ but no improvement in markers of inflammation.
Her most recent study of 50 patients with Crohn’s Disease, reported that those who received medical cannabis – of a ratio of four to one CBD and THC – saw their symptoms improve over a period of eight weeks.
Patients reported less diarrhea, reduced abdominal pain, an increase in their appetite and an overall better quality of life.
However, there was no change in the actual inflammation caused by the disease.
Speaking to Cannabis Health, Dr Nafatli said: “This time I not only looked at clinical data, but patients underwent a colonoscopy before and after.
“What we observed is that again, patients felt better, but there was no endoscopic change – the inflammation inside remained as it was before.”
She continued: “It was a short study, only eight weeks, but it could also be said that cannabis improves symptoms.
“Patients taking cannabis say they have less abdominal pain, less diarrhea and can reduce the amount of steroids they are taking. They all say they sleep much better, have a better appetite and generally feel better.”
However, Dr Nafatali believes cannabis does have the potential to treat inflammation, with more studies needed to investigate the effects of the various cannabis compounds.
“We need a lot more research,” she said.
“If you look at the animal and lab studies, it seems that cannabis does have the potential to cure inflammation, but somehow these studies have not yet been translated to human trials – it doesn’t work in humans or we didn’t do it the right way.
“Cannabis has so many different compounds. I’m sure if we managed to isolate the active ingredients in the right ones and the right way of taking it, it can turn out to be a useful treatment.”
In Israel, the Ministry of Health permits the use of medical cannabis for patients with Crohn’s Disease who meet certain criteria, including not responding to any alternative biologic treatments.
Until more research is conducted, Dr Naftali is hesitant to prescribe, seeing its role as largely one of a last resort.
“The main role that cannabis can have at the moment is as a support, either as a bridge for a period until the more effective medicines work, or for people who have such severe disease that they don’t respond to any other medicine,” she added.
“Currently we know that cannabis is very useful for symptomatic improvement, but it cannot replace the real anti-inflammatory treatments.”
TOWIE star Amy Childs launches CBD range in honour of Jorja Foundation
The product range sees a portion of the proceeds going to the Jorja Foundation.
TOWIE star Amy Childs launched her new CBD range this week, with a star-studded event that shone a spotlight on the story of six-year-old Jorja Emerson.
Amy Childs was joined by former Love Islanders, Amy Hart and Cara Delahoyde-Massey, alongside her co-stars, Frankie Essex, Tom Skinner, Carina Lepore, Saffron Lempriere and Mark Ferris, for a heart-warming event celebrating the launch of her new CBD Infused beauty range, Jorja Botanicals.
The signature collection sees a portion of the proceeds going to the Jorja Foundation, which was set up in honour of six-year-old medical cannabis patient, Jorja Emerson.
The event saw The Only Way Is Essex star Frankie Essex, break down in tears as she heard Jorja’s story. Frankie, who gave birth to twins four weeks ago, wiped her eyes when Robin Emerson, Jorja’s father, showed videos of the life-threatening seizures his daughter was suffering before they discovered medical cannabis.
Love Island star, Amy Hart has since taken to Instagram to spread the word about the latest political campaign that sees Childs and Emerson petitioning to make medical cannabis more widely available on the NHS.
The Jorja Botanicals range was inspired by Jorja, who was diagnosed with a rare chromosome abnormality called 1q43q44 deletion, which has a side effect of life-threatening seizures. Her illness resulted in her being admitted to intensive care on two separate occasions, where Robin was told that she may not make it.
To save his daughter’s life, Emerson knew that he had to dig deep and find a treatment that would not only help Jorja but ultimately go on to help others.
At the time it was still illegal to prescribe cannabis in the UK. Emerson joined the campaign to see medical cannabis legalised in the UK in November 2018, and Jorja’s was among the first children to be legally prescribed medicinal cannabis.
In 2021 he went on to create the Jorja Foundation – a charity set up to help other families and children going through the same battles that Robin had to face.
The Jorja Foundation’s core principles are to fund special needs equipment that is not funded through the health system, fund family counselling, private appointments and tests when a second opinion is needed, as well s cannabis-based treatment for children in the UK and to continue to campaign and educate for wider NHS access in the UK for cannabis-based medications.
Childs commented: “When I saw Robin & Jorja’s story on social media it broke my heart.
“As a mum, I couldn’t imagine the pain of being told to take my child home to say goodbye to them. I love that Robin has fought for Jorja & is now helping other families with the Jorja Foundation.
“I’m so happy that I can help the foundation by being the Creative Director of Jorja Botanicals. We have created some beautiful products for the whole family to enjoy. We will be donating a percentage of the proceeds to the foundation so that we can help as many families as possible. ”
Emerson added: “ This is the fruition of a lot of hard work over many months and I am extremely proud to launch what is the first family brand in this category. In the coming weeks, we will also be launching a ‘parent’ focused cosmetic range in partnership with our creative director Amy Childs and our premium line of tincture oils.”
South Africa launches first trial of cannabis for chronic pain
The study will test whether cannabis can replace opioids in the management of chronic pain.
South Africa’s first cannabis trial has launched after initial results “show promise” for the treatment as a replacement for opioids.
The study will involve 1,000 participants who have been taking opioids for pain management for at least three months and are prepared to switch to cannabis as an alternative.
Biodata is the brainchild of Dr Shiksha Gallow, a cannabis clinician and the principal investigator in the trial which took over 18 months to get official clearance.
Dr Gallow said the trial is set to be ground-breaking as South Africa’s first real-world study of medical cannabis. Researchers predict that it will provide much-needed insight into the link between cannabis genetics and patient outcomes.
Dr Gallow told Cannabiz Africa: “We are currently recruiting patients, and data-capturing all the questionnaires and feedback from the patients for the live Study. It has been fairly slow. However, more options have been introduced, as suggested by the patients in the pilot study.
“The pilot results of the study were very promising, as it showed 98 per cent of the patients have some sort of pain relief from the cannabis.
“We were able to wean these patients off their opioid treatment. In the pilot group of patients below the age of 55, it was shown this group preferred to smoke cannabis and patients older than 55 years preferred oil. The patients who smoked the cannabis had relief almost immediately, while the oil took some time to alleviate their pain.”
“Once we reach the sample size required and all of the relevant data has been collated, the results of the study will be published. We have currently renewed this study for another year, due to the initial slow uptake of research participants.”
Patients can apply to be research participants through the Biodata website.
Labat is expanding its footprint over the next few months with the introduction of CannAfrica kiosks in major shopping malls.
The company believes these will be the “ideal locations for physical sign-up points for the study”.
Labat said the kiosks will also serve as Biodata dispensaries and is engaging with a number of vape stores to do the same, although these would have to be subject to South African Health Products Regulatory Authority’s pharma-ethics requirements.
Five global developments in medical cannabis
The latest news from Europe, Asia and South America
Major developments in medical cannabis are happening across the globe, but while some countries are taking giant leaps forward, others appear to be taking a step back.
Cannabis is booming in Europe with the medical industry expected to reach a value of $4.2 billion by 2027.
Elsewhere, Canada and the United States continue to lead the way in their approach to law reform, with increasing numbers of countries starting to follow in their footsteps.
Thailand became the latest state to legalise cannabis, removing it from the country’s list of prohibited substances earlier this month.
Spain is finally set to legalise medical cannabis, meanwhile, law courts in Brazil have shown progression, following a court case that ruled in favour of three patients cultivating their own plants at home.
Hong Kong, however, has taken a step backwards in its approach to cannabis-based products, with law enforcement authorities proposing a ban on all CBD products.
We’ve rounded up the latest developments you might have missed.
Spain moves toward legalising medical cannabis
Patients in Spain will likely soon be able to access medical cannabis in hospital and health centre pharmacies, for a conditions, including chronic pain related to multiple sclerosis, some forms of epilepsy, those who suffer from nausea and vomiting derived from chemotherapy and cancer pain.
On 30 May, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) introduced a bill to legalise medical cannabis in the country.
According to local media, The Canary News, the Subcommittee on Medicinal Cannabis in the Congress of Deputies approved the bill on Tuesday 21 June to regulate the therapeutic use of cannabis. However this is limited to a few conditions and will not include cannabis flower.
Spain has decriminalised recreational cannabis for personal cultivation and use, but has yet to enact a medical cannabis law.
Hong Kong proposes ban on CBD products within a year
As the popularity of CBD grows in Hong Kong, law enforcement authorities have proposed making the substance illegal under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.
CBD with no trace of THC is currently legal in Hong Kong but if the law changes, those who either but or consume CBD could face up to seven years in jail.
The law would also prohibit the manufacture, import, export, supply, sale and shipment of any products containing CBD.
Home-cultivation win in Brazil
A panel of judges in Brazil has ruled that three patients on trial for home cultivation should be permitted to grow their own medical cannabis. The landmark decision is likely to inform future cases, however the national government is yet to respond.
The current president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has openly stated his opposition to the legalisation and home cultivation of cannabis for medical use.
The five judges have challenged the president’s position on the issue saying that the government has failed to take a reasonable position on medical cannabis.
Thai citizens fear teen use of cannabis
Following the removal of cannabis from the list of prohibited narcotics earlier this month, Thai citizens have voiced their opinions on legalisation.
Thailand’s National Institute of Development Administration conducted a poll from June 13-15 on 1,310 respondents aged 15 and above.
Cannabis use among children was the most prevalent fear among respondents with around 72 per cent saying they are ‘definitely’ worried or ‘moderately’ worried.
While just under a quarter of respondents believed that the government cannot control cannabis consumption, 35 per cent strongly agreed that cannabis can “generate income and cure diseases”.
Cyprus patients call for quicker prescription process
Hundreds of Cypriots patients in need of medical cannabis have criticised the protocol for gaining a prescription, branding it as too slow.
“Cases of chronic patients crying out for help are in the hundreds,” Demetris Lambrianides of the Federation of Patients’ Associations of Cyprus said.
“We cannot say that progress in the procedure has been recorded, unfortunately. There is a procedure but it is not helpful enough for chronic patients.
“Medical cannabis is used mainly by cancer patients but also by some rheumatology ones as well as by people with neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis,” he added.
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