Study Finds 25% of Australian IBD Sufferers Use Cannabis to Treat Symptoms

The survey also found that more than 90% of respondents experienced a significant improvement in abdominal pain, stress, sleeping, and cramping symptoms when using medicinal cannabis.

Researchers from the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney have uncovered evidence showing that up to a quarter of Australians with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) use cannabis to manage their conditions.

The data was collected via an online survey—before subsequently being published in the journal Crohn's and Colitis—which examined severity of symptoms, medication dosage and quality of life, as well as the perceived impact experienced by users of medicinal cannabis.

This survey is informative to future research in this field and to continuing the discussion around medicinal cannabis for IBD management – particularly so that clinicians may better understand what their patients' may already be doing to self-manage their symptoms. Lambert Initiative Study Lead Author, Dr Melissa Benson

The survey expanded on previous data gathering efforts by targeting a larger section of the population while also employing a more granular approach to patient subgroup segmentation.

This allowed the team to divide respondents into a variety of categories, including sufferers of Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis or "IBD unclassified", along with different cannabis use levels such as former, current, or non-user of medicinal cannabis.

According to the principal investigator and academic director for the Lambert Initiative, Professor Iain McGregor, the study was inspired by the experience of a family from NSW that found relief from the symptoms of IBD through cannabis.

"The survey was inspired by the experiences of the Taylor family from the Blue Mountains: father Steven Taylor was arrested for growing cannabis to alleviate the suffering of his daughters Morgan and Taylor who suffered from severe IBD and found great relief from non-intoxicating cannabis leaf juice preparations," McGregor said.  

"This case reflects the reality that many IBD patients do not have their condition adequately managed by existing drugs and so turn to alternative options, such as cannabis, to manage their condition."

These sentiments were also echoed by the Taylor family, who provided an official statement arguing in favour of increased accessibility to medicinal cannabis.

"Medicinal cannabis alleviated our daughters' suffering after all conventional treatments failed. The survey reflects the lived experience in the community where vulnerable families resort to accessing unreliable products with no certainty of future supply," a representative for the Taylor family said.

"When doctors are so cautious about prescribing cannabis medicines and when current official products are unaffordable for patients, then either the law needs to change, or we need to have an amnesty for genuine medicinal users and their carers."

The survey also revealed that more than 90% of patients experienced an improvement in their IBD symptoms when using medicinal cannabis.

The full report can be read here


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Hugo Gray
Hugo Gray

Hugo Gray is a Melbourne-based journalist with a body of work that covers a diverse range of topics, including immigration law, sex technology, and now the rapidly expanding cannabis industry.

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