(Harm Hids is a Crohnology member from the Netherlands.)
During vacation in summer 2014, my son told me, “I do not want to live like this anymore.” To hear this from your 16-year-old son is heartbreaking.
Three years earlier, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. He had many, many flares. He was depressed, following a very restrictive diet, and not drinking enough fluids. At the time, he was taking Imuran and steroids.
I asked him what he wanted to do, and he suggested cannabis. He found many success stories online, and we live in (Amsterdam?), where cannabis is legal. Neither my son nor I take (or took) any drugs for recreational use.
Researching online, I found the Crohnology community, where medical cannabis is listed as very effective — in fact, more effective than prescription medications. It seemed we were on the right track, but we also learned that ‘medical cannabis’ is a family name for endless varieties and many ways of administering. We quickly dropped the idea of smoking or vaping; oil is a better way to dose.
We found Mediwiet, a foundation in Holland, and were able to get trial lots of high CBD oils and high THC oils.
We started in August with few drops of CBD-rich oils each day, sublingually. The effect was very strong: my son’s ‘brainfog’ lifted, and he felt a lot better mentally. He began picking up activities like playing soccer, socializing after school, and going out with his friends.
His immune system was still very weak after years of immunosuppressants, and every bacteria wandering around in school seemed to make him sick with Crohn’s-like symptoms for a few days. So we realized that we needed more than just the few drips of CBD per day sublingual.
He started with a few drips of THC oil per day, and the effect was direct and strong: firmer stools, less urgency, fewer visits per day.
In October we saw his specialist, who is skeptical of medical cannabis. But since my son was doing well, the doctor suggested that we stop the steroids. For us, this was a big thing, as my son was steroid dependent. An X-ray study had shown that he had no growth potential anymore; much to our regret, Crohns and the steroids robbed him of 10 cm height.
Through Christmas 2014, we did not progress much. His damaged gut needed to heal. Meanwhile, we found the amazing story of Coltyn Turner, which inspired us to start taking bigger quantities of CBD. We tried first 25 mg cbd per day, then boosted it up to 50 mg per day.
In January 2015, we stopped the Imuran. A scary two months followed, in which the protection of the Imuran faded away. Every small incident scared us, and we wondered whether our alternative would hold.
It still holds today. My son is on no prescription medicines, not on any diet, and taking only medical cannabis in oil form. He grew — without having ‘growth potential’ — over 6 cm, and gained almost 10 kg.
There is still work to be done. His immunity is still too low and he gets sick too often. His microbiome is not diverse, and stress is the biggest trigger for a short attack of Crohn’s-like symptoms. Medical cannabis manages your symptoms and promotes healing of the damaged gut, but you have to find your triggers and eliminate them.
All in all, we are happy with the result. Together with Mediwiet, we are doing a trial with other Crohn’s patients, to see if this protocol also works for others.
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Photos courtesy Harm Hids.