Anti-Aging & Medical Cannabis Blog

Medical marijuana has become an incredibly popular treatment options for patients suffering from a whole host of conditions. Are you considering trying medical marijuana for inflammatory bowel disease? In this article, we will focus on the benefits marijuana can have for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and how it can help fight some of the symptoms associated with this condition.

What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

IBD causes inflammation of the intestines. Inflammatory bowel disease is a term for a broad spectrum of diseases, but Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the most common.

For many IBD appears to be genetic, but no gene has been discovered yet that appears to cause IBD. Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease usually involve severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and weight loss. IBD can be debilitating and sometimes leads to life-threatening complications.

What Are The Causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Unfortunately, the cause of IBD is still unknown, though there have been several hypotheses. One such hypothesis links IBD to immune system dysfunction, meaning that if the body were to try and fight off a foreign pathogen and malfunction, it may damage the cells in the digestive tract as well, leading to inflammation.

There have been several risk factors that have been identified to place a person at a higher risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease. Age is one risk factor and it is usually for younger people. Most individuals diagnosed with IBD are under the age of 30 when they are first diagnosed, however, some can develop the disease later in life.

Another risk factor is race.  Although whites have the highest risk of the disease, it can occur in any race. If you are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, your risk is even higher. Use of cigarettes and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are other risk factors. Medications like ibuprofen, Aleve, and others can increase your risk of developing IBD or worsen the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease if you already have it.

Complications of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The complications from IBD can be quite serious. They can range from problems such as malnutrition and joint inflammation to thing quite serious like blood clots and cancer. The complications and increased risks for certain conditions are caused both by the disease and some of the treatment methods. The disease can cause scarring of the bile ducts which can lead to liver damage. However, prolonged used of certain medications often used to treat the disease can also lead to increased risks of liver damage.

How Does Medical Marijuana For Inflammatory Bowel Disease Help?

Medical marijuana can help inflammatory bowel disease in several ways. As has been noted one of the primary complications from IBD is malnutrition. Malnutrition if not treated can lead to a whole host of problems included anemia and B12 deficiency to more serious problems like extreme weight loss. Medical cannabis has been found to be an excellent appetite stimulant. This appetite stimulation can help patients that are fighting to either gain weight or keep weight on.

Appetite Stimulation

In addition to appetite stimulation, marijuana can help with pain, nausea, and mood. A patient with inflammatory bowel disease will often experience chronic and severe pain. THC in marijuana can help patients with this type of intractable and severe pain.


Just like in patient cancer patients that are undergoing chemotherapy that are experiencing nausea, medical marijuana can help those suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. Because medical marijuana has strong anti-nausea properties it can help those experiencing these symptoms from their illness.


Medical cannabis can also help with mood, which is something that patients with chronic conditions like inflammatory bowel disease need. We all know that if you are dealing with pain or a chronic condition it can affect you mentally. It is not uncommon for patients with inflammatory bowel disease to also experience depression, anxiety, or other psychological problems.

Preliminary research about medical marijuana and anxiety shows cannabis has similar effects to medications like benzodiazepines. The good news is, though, that medical marijuana for anxiety has those similar effects without the risk of overdose.

Medical marijuana also appears to lower levels of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is the hormone that is often associated with how much stress you are feeling.  If you have lowered cortisol levels you have a less severe reaction to stress, which can reduce anxiety.

Endocannabinoid System

The human body has something in it called the endocannabinoid system. This system is a complex system of receptors located throughout the body including in the brain, nervous system, and digestive tract. It is this system that process medical marijuana in patients. The location of receptors throughout the digestive tract may also prove to be useful with medical marijuana for inflammatory bowel disease working to control inflammation as well. Medical marijuana has strong anti-inflammatory properties and the presence of endocannabinoid receptors in the digestive track has led many to believe that it could be useful with the inflammation that many experience from IBD.

How To Get Medical Marijuana For Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Accessing medical cannabis in Maryland or Delaware is a two-part process. The first step in accessing medical cannabis in Maryland is to submit an application to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC). In this application you will need to verify your residence in Maryland by submitting a copy of a state issued ID or some other form of address verification. In addition, you will need to upload a passport photo that will ultimately be used on your medical cannabis card.

Once you have submitted this application to apply for your medical card you will need to find a medical marijuana doctor. The MMJ doctor’s office will need two things from you to get you certified to access medical marijuana for anxiety. The first is some medical records documenting your qualifying medical condition. There are several things that can show this but often medical records such as a doctor’s note or prescription can demonstrate your qualifying condition. In addition to your records, the medical cannabis doctor will also need the medical ID number that you receive back from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to complete your certification. Once you have these things your doctor will be able to certify you in a quick process that will allow you to immediately access a Maryland medical marijuana dispensary.

The process for patients in Delaware is somewhat different than the process for patients in Maryland. In Delaware applying for your medical marijuana card is simple: Do it online here or print and mail the completed application. After your doctor authorizes treatment and the State receives the application, it could take two to four weeks for you to receive your card. 


Medical marijuana may be able to help reduce the symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease and increase the user’s quality of life significantly. It is currently unknown if marijuana use has any direct effect on the underlying cause of IBD, but patients are reporting many benefits of its use.


Ryan Nawrocki