Colitis is a chronic gastroenterological condition which is characterised by the inflammation of the colon and the rectum. It can often lead to the development of ulcers on the colon’s lining which can bleed and produce pus.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Colitis will vary in severity and regularity from case to case. The main symptoms include:

  • Recurring diarrhoea, which may contain blood, mucus, or pus
  • Tummy pain
  • The need to empty your bowels frequently
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of weight and appetite

Periods of remission, where symptoms may be very mild or non-existent, may occur for periods of weeks or even months. They are often followed by flare-ups or periods where the symptoms are particularly severe.Flare-ups can involve:

  • Arthritis
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Areas of painful, red and swollen skin
  • Irritated and red eyes

Cause and treatment

Colitis is believed to be an autoimmune condition, where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. The most common theory behind the condition is that the immune system mistakes bacteria inside the colon as at heart and attacks the tissues of the colon, causing it to become inflamed.

Most experts believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors cause the immune system to behave in this way.

Most treatments for colitis are focused on symptom management, to relieve symptoms during a flare-up or to prevent them from returning. In most people, this is achieved with a combination of medicines:

  • Aminosalicylates, or medicines that help to reduce inflammation
  • Corticosteroids, a more powerful type of medicine used to reduce inflammation
  • Immunosuppressants

In severe cases, where medications fail to control symptoms, surgery to remove the colon may be considered.

Medical Cannabis and Colitis

Medical cannabis products can be potentially useful in managing a number of the symptoms associated with Colitis. For example, a 2016 study of the therapeutic use of cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) found that patients experienced relief pain and nausea as well as an improvement in appetite and their overall mood. Colitis is a form of IBD which may also be improved by medical cannabis treatment.

Our specialist physicians are experienced in assessing individual cases and helping to determine whether medical cannabis could be an effective option.