Any middle school-worthy guffaws at the mention of irritable bowel syndrome disappear in an instant once the affliction is experienced. Chronic cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation and worse, with no known cause, no easy “cure” and nothing but long-term management to look forward to.
For anyone who buys into the idea of a “second brain” in your gastrointestinal tract, a “brain-gut connection”—and since medical and scientific professionals buy into it, you probably should, too—anxiety and depression are likely accompaniments for a life with IBS, with one fueling the other.
In other words, no fun—and no fun experienced by up to 3.5 million people a year in America.
So if the Dutch doctors who say that a marijuana-infused chewing gum made by an American marijuana company could “cure” IBS are onto something, it would be a very big deal indeed for millions of people.
It’s been known for some time that CBD, or cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with known anti-inflammatory properties, has shown promise in treating IBS. It was only a matter of time, then, before a CBD-derived pharmaceutical intended for IBS treatment arrived.
The UK Daily Mail reports that medical researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands will start testing CBD-infused gum made by Medical Marijuana, Inc., a San Diego, California-area company best known now for touting hemp-derived CBD oil. (The company currently markets its CBD oil across the country and in Mexico, though whether it’ll continue to be able doing so after the DEA classified CBD oil, regardless of source material, as a Schedule I substance is unclear.)
According to the Mail, the lab tests for “CanChew” will be the first time CBD’s efficacy as an IBS treatment will undergo lab testing. Until now, it’s been all anecdotal evidence (though there’s been a lot of anecdotes).
CBD’s real value could be in reducing the frequency and severity of the colon spasms that afflict IBS sufferers. If the tension in the digestive tract is reduced, the thinking goes, that could reduce cramping, bloating and allow an IBS sufferer to perform normal bowel movements.
There’s 50 milligrams of CBD in each piece of gum. Forty patients with IBS, ranging in age from 18 to 65, will receive the gum, with other study participants receiving a placebo. They’ll be allowed up to six pieces of gum a day to help control their IBS symptoms, the Mail reported.
Medical Marijuana’s investment arm, a company called AXIM, also believes that the CBD gum could be effective in treating other GI diseases like colitis and Crohn’s disease. That would be a big deal for many people, as Crohn’s is particularly awful: patients like NFL player Seantrel Henderson, who is facing suspension and/or total dismissal from the league for using cannabis to treat his Crohn’s, have had part of their intestines removed as part of the treatment.
It’s unclear when the gum could make its way to American shores and into the hands of IBS patients, but AXIM says it’s ready to launch straight into a second round of clinical trials if the gum goes over well in the Netherlands.
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