Basil N. Nduma, Kelly A. Mofor , Jason Tatang , Chukwuyem Ekhator, Solomon Ambe, Ekokobe Fonkem


March 14, 2023


Around the world, about 15 to 40% of individuals with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) rely on cannabis and cannabinoids to reduce the need for other medications, as well as increase appetite and reduce pain. Whereas more and more patients continue to report benefits accruing from cannabis and cannabinoid usage in IBD, agreement relative to the use of cannabis and its derivatives in IBD remains unclear. This paper reviewed the interplay between cannabinoid use and IBD disease treatment, remission, or symptom relief. The study was conducted from a systematic review perspective. It involved consulting literature from published original research articles, noting outcomes, and performing a meta-analysis to identify trends and draw conclusions. The selected articles were those that had been published in a 10-year period ranging between 2012 and 2022. The motivation was to ensure recency and also relevance to contemporary scientific research and clinical environment practices. Indeed, the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) framework helped in answering the focal question of the investigation, which revolved around whether cannabinoids are beneficial to IBD treatment and to what extent. The aim of using this protocol was to ensure the satisfaction of the article exclusion and inclusion criteria, as well as ensure the utilization of articles directly contributing to the central subject under investigation. In the findings, it was established that on the one hand, cannabinoid usage in IBD treatment comes with promising results as reported in the majority of the selected studies which reported reduced clinical complications which were assessed using Mayo scores, Crohn’s Disease Activity Index (CDAI) score, weight gain, enhanced patient health perception, Lichtiger Index and Harvey-Bradshaw Index or general wellbeing. On the other hand, cannabinoid use remains questionable because evidence of high quality is yet to surface vividly, especially in terms of the mode of administration and the appropriate dose. It is also notable that the findings were characterized by a state of high heterogeneity in terms of the study designs of the studies that were selected, disease activity indices, the duration of treatment by different scholarly researchers, the difference in the modes of administration of cannabinoid and cannabis by different researchers, variations in cannabis dosage, differences in the selected studies’ inclusion criteria, and variations in their case definitions. The implication is that whereas the efficacy of cannabinoid use in IBD treatment was reported in most studies, outcome generalizability from the review was highly likely to be restricted. In the future, it is recommended that randomized controlled trials center, set universal parameters for IBD treatment using cannabis and cannabinoids to determine intervention safety and effectiveness as well as having homogenous outcomes that can be compared between different studies. In so doing, the appropriate dose and ideal mode of administration of cannabis and its derivatives might be discerned, ensuring relevance based on patient characteristics such as gender and age, as well as the appropriate administration mode and dose as per IBD symptom severity.


DOI: 10.7759/cureus.36148


Nduma, B. N., Mofor, K. A., Tatang, J., Ekhator, C., Ambe, S., Fonkem, E., & Ekhator, C. (2023). The Use of Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): A Review of the Literature. Cureus, 15(3).