Cannabis use in inflammatory bowel disease: new surveys announced

18 April 2019
Two new surveys announced for patients using or considering using medicinal cannabis to ease the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and for specialists caring for these patients.
photo of a man holding his stomach in pain

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a debilitating condition.

The anonymous survey will ask patients how their Inflammatory Bowel Disease symptoms affect their daily lives, including work and productivity, their adherence to their current medications and their attitudes on medicinal cannabis and use preferences.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an umbrella term describing chronic and relapsing inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Affected individuals experience abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhoea and bleeding with a high risk of developing colorectal and small bowel cancers. It is a debilitating condition that often significantly affects a patient’s day to day quality of life, which is why some are turning to cannabis for symptom relief.

In 2016, clinical researchers at The University of Sydney’s Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics launched the Cannabis as Medicine Survey, 2016, surveying 1,749 Australians who reported using cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Of those surveyed, over 200 people reported using cannabis to manage symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

The newest Cannabis as Medicine Survey (2018), which closed earlier this year, is being analysed for publication and shows data consistent with the 2016 finding. This issue is not going away.

photo of a bottle of cannabis oil

Patients are turning to medicinal cannabis for symptom relief.

Patients report dissatisfaction managing their IBD with available treatment options. Anecdotal reports of cannabis improving symptoms of IBD paired with increased interest from the clinical and patient communities has prompted the Lambert Initiative to focus their attention on cannabis use specifically for IBD. Two surveys are now active and independently explore patient and specialist perspectives. This approach hopes to get a snapshot of Australian use and attitudes from both sides of the story.

“Medicinal cannabis is an important issue that is popping up in our clinics and we need to know how our patients may be using it to address their IBD symptoms. The patient survey will help to understand this,” says Dr Crispin Corte, specialist gastroenterologist and clinical lead of IBD at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and one of the investigators on this study.

The specialist survey follows in the wake of the Lambert Initiative’s highly cited cross-sectional survey of 640 Australian general practitioners attitudes toward medicinal cannabis run in collaboration with HealthEd, a learning resource for GPs, last year.


Do you have IBD or know somebody who does? The IBD patient survey is now active and can be completed online.

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