In regard to cannabis, Dr. Gordon referred to a 2018 Cochrane review that examined three studies that investigated its use in CD and determined “the effects of cannabis and cannabis oil on Crohn’s disease are uncertain” (Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Nov 8.).
He said future studies should focus on the effect of cannabis on quality of life and pain reduction. “That’s where the research needs to go,” he said.
Another 2018 Cochrane review examined two small studies exploring the use of cannabis in ulcerative colitis and reported similar findings, declaring that “the effects of cannabis and cannabidiol on UC are uncertain” (Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Nov 8.
The Cochrane Library also examined research into fecal transplantation for IBD. A 2018 review reported that “fecal microbiota transplantation may increase the proportion of participants achieving clinical remission in UC. However, the number of identified studies was small and the quality of evidence was low. There is uncertainty about the rate of serious adverse events. As a result, no solid conclusions can be drawn at this time” (Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Nov 13.).
Still, Dr. Gordon said, fecal transplantation is “really promising.”
Another 2018 Cochrane review of IBD research – this one focusing on natalizumab (Tysabri) as a tool for induction of remission of CD – was more conclusive. It examined five trials and found that “high quality data suggest that natalizumab is effective for induction of clinical remission and response in some patients with moderately to severely active CD”(Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Aug 1.).
However, the review noted that none of the studies was high powered enough to detect rare serious adverse effects such as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). “Due to the association with PML, and the availability of alternative agents that are not associated with PML, natalizumab is not likely to be used in patients who fail currently available medical therapy,” the reviewers wrote. “Further studies of natalizumab are not likely to be done.”
Dr. Gordon reports unrestricted travel grants over the past 3 years from Ferring, Synergy, Tillotts, and BioGaia. He holds a National Institute for Health Research Cochrane IBD Program Grant.