Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory condition that can lead to the deterioration of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and a marked decline in quality of life. Oxidative stress and immune system hyperactivity are believed to be two of the key mechanisms behind IBD. Over the long-term, these phenomena are believed to affect mucosal and epithelial permeability, thereby exposing underlying tissues to antigens, cytokines, and reactive oxygen species (ROS), both exacerbating and prolonging the inflammation. Abnormally high level of ROS have been reported in IBD.
Cannabis has been used for millennia to treat gastrointestinal issues and has also been observed to act as a potent anti-inflammatory agent in tissues with significant cannabinoid receptor expression. Studies have found significant cannabinoid receptor expression throughout the GI tract. Given these facts, it has long been believed that cannabis should be theoretically capable of treating IBD and reducing GI inflammation, but clinical trials have thus far failed to show a reduction of inflammatory markers.
A new in vitro study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology found that cannabidiol (CBD) was capable of inhibiting ROS production, thereby decreasing gut permeability. This suggests that CBD may assist in symptom management for patients with IBD and could play a proactive role in maintaining gut health. "CBD is in fact able to prevent the epithelial barrier damage induced by inflammatory stimulus, preventing membrane disruption," the study's authors concluded.
Frontiers in Pharmacology has more.