Cannabis induces a clinical response in patients with Crohn's disease: a prospective placebo-controlled study.
Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013 Oct ;11(10):1276-1280.e1. Epub 2013 May 4. PMID: 23648372
BACKGROUND & AIMS: The marijuana plant Cannabis sativa has been reported to produce beneficial effects for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases, but this has not been investigated in controlled trials. We performed a prospective trial to determine whether cannabis can induce remission in patients with Crohn's disease.
METHODS: We studied 21 patients (mean age, 40± 14 y; 13 men) with Crohn's Disease Activity Index (CDAI) scores greater than 200 who did not respond to therapy with steroids, immunomodulators, or anti-tumor necrosis factor-α agents. Patients were assigned randomly to groups given cannabis, twice daily, in the form of cigarettes containing 115mg of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or placebo containing cannabis flowers from which the THC had been extracted. Disease activity and laboratory tests were assessed during 8 weeks of treatment and 2 weeks thereafter.
RESULTS: Complete remission (CDAI score,<150) was achieved by 5 of 11 subjects in the cannabis group (45%) and 1 of 10 in the placebo group (10%; P = .43). A clinical response (decrease in CDAI score of>100) was observed in 10 of 11 subjects in the cannabis group (90%; from 330± 105 to 152 ± 109) and 4 of 10 in the placebo group (40%; from 373 ± 94 to 306 ± 143; P = .028). Three patients in the cannabis group were weaned from steroid dependency. Subjects receiving cannabis reported improved appetite and sleep, with no significant side effects.
CONCLUSIONS: Although the primary end point of the study (induction of remission) was not achieved, a short course (8 weeks) of THC-rich cannabis produced significant clinical, steroid-free benefits to 10 of 11 patients with active Crohn's disease, compared with placebo, without side effects. Further studies, with larger patient groups and a nonsmoking mode of intake, are warranted. ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01040910.