Introduction: Cannabis use is common in the setting of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Patients frequently use cannabis to treat IBD-associated symptoms, and there is evidence that cannabis and its derivatives are helpful for this purpose. However, it is unclear how the symptom profiles of active IBD cannabis users and nonusers compare and how these symptoms may relate to their underlying disease state and/or complications. Materials and Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study using a consented IBD natural history registry from a single tertiary care referral center between January 1, 2015 and August 31, 2020. We asked patients about current cannabis use and frequency. We also abstracted demographic and clinical characteristic information, including endoscopic severity, and totals and subscores of surveys assessing IBD characteristics, presence of anxiety/depression, and IBD-associated symptoms. We compared clinical and demographic factors of cannabis users and nonusers and developed a logistic regression model to evaluate for independent associations with cannabis use. Results: Three hundred eighty-three IBD patients met the inclusion criteria (206 females, 177 males; 258 Crohn's disease [CD], 118 ulcerative colitis, and 7 indeterminate colitis). Thirty patients (7.8%) were active cannabis users, consuming it for an average of 2.7 times per week. Cannabis users were more likely to report abdominal pain (83.3% vs. 61.7%), gas (66.7% vs. 45.6%), tenesmus (70.0% vs. 47.6%), and arthralgias (53.3% vs. 20.3%) compared to those that did not use cannabis (p<0.05 for each). Incidence of moderate-severe endoscopic inflammation was similar between cannabis users and nonusers, while CD-associated complications were more common in nonusers (39.1% vs. 69.7%, p<0.05). The only factor that demonstrated a significant association with cannabis use on multivariable analysis was arthralgia (p<0.01). Discussion: Active IBD cannabis users were more likely to report a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, gas, tenesmus, and arthralgias. However, they did not demonstrate more frequent active disease or IBD-associated complications, suggesting that other nonluminal factors influence their symptoms and/or decision to use cannabis. These findings demonstrate the importance of evaluating for extraintestinal contributors to symptom burden in IBD cannabis users, as well as the ongoing need to develop safer and more effective methods for recognizing and managing abdominal pain and other symptoms in this setting.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Complementary and alternative medicine
- Pharmacology (medical)