Patients Want to Know If Marijuana Helps IBD

Ann Marie Kerlin, Millie Long, Michael Kappelman, Christopher Martin, Robert S Sandler


Using survey questions, patients who used marijuana legally for IBD were compared with those who did not. We looked at health, quality of life, some mental health measures, and included a list of potential benefits marijuana might bring. Unfortunately, it seemed that those who used marijuana were not doing as well as other patients on average. It may be that they had uncontrolled symptoms, standard medications were not working well for them, or other factors influenced this outcome. Randomized controlled studies of the use of marijuana would be very helpful where exact dosages were used and patients were closely matched when compared with those using more traditional treatments.


It is important because with the legalization of marijuana many benefits have been proposed for IBD patients. These are unproven through clinical trials. If marijuana truly is not helpful, or the substance purchased is of different strengths or quality, patients will potentially waste time and money and have poorer health outcomes. If there are benefits, finding the right dosage and the right strain of this plant may provide help to many who are suffering.

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Author Comments

ann kerlin, PhD
ann kerlin, PhD
Luther Rice College & Seminary
Associate Professor
Lithonia, Georgia | United States
The principal investigator is also a patient with IBD and if benefits are to be found, they are valuable. More research is clearly needed to examine the best methods of administration and dosages, and to determine benefits to patients. ann kerlin, PhD


IBD Partners

Profiles of Patients Who Use Marijuana for Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

ann kerlin, PhD
ann kerlin, PhD
Luther Rice College & Seminary
Associate Professor
Lithonia, Georgia | United States

Dig Dis Sci 2018 06 29;63(6):1600-1604. Epub 2018 Mar 29.

Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Background: Marijuana is legal in a number of states for indications that include inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), and patients are interested in its potential benefits.

Aims: We aimed to describe the legal use of marijuana in individuals with IBD in the USA who participate within the CCFA Partners internet-based cohort.

Methods: A total of 2357 participants who lived in states where prescription or recreational marijuana was legal, were offered the opportunity to complete a survey on marijuana use and IBD symptoms including perceived benefits of therapy. Bivariate statistics and logistic regression models were used to determine factors associated with marijuana use.

Results: Surveys were completed by 1666 participants (71%) with only 214 (12.8%) indicating they had asked their medical doctor about its use and 73 actually using prescribed marijuana (4.4%). Within the respondent group (Nā€‰=ā€‰1666), 234 participants lived where both medical and recreational marijuana is legal and 49 (20.9%) reported recreational marijuana use specifically for IBD. Users reported positive benefits (80.7%), but users also reported more depression, anxiety, pain interference, and lower social satisfaction than non-users. Those prescribed marijuana reported more active disease, and more use of steroids, narcotics, and zolpidem.

Conclusions: Few IBD patients consulted their medical doctors about marijuana use or used prescription marijuana. Where recreational marijuana was available, usage rates were higher. Users reported benefits but also more IBD symptoms, depression, anxiety, and pain. Marijuana use may be higher in patients with IBD symptoms not well treated by conventional medical approaches.

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June 2018
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