Pot Eased My Crohn’s Disease
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease 10 years ago this August, and looking back those were some pretty horrific days. Within months of being diagnosed I was ready for my first (and hopefully only) surgery to remove over a foot of my diseased colon. At 18 years old I was getting an unintentional crash course on how the American healthcare system works, and the hell of being a human lab rat for corporate pharmaceuticals.
After almost a decade of taking and struggling to pay for Johnson & Johnson’s most profitable drug, Remicade—a drug that brought in $9 billion last year alone—I sought to find out more about this relatively new drug, which was first approved, only for use in treating patients with Crohn’s disease, by the FDA in 1998. Remicade would later be approved to treat seven more conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and psoriasis. What I found was disappointing, but unfortunately, not all that unexpected in the American healthcare system.
After over a decade and a couple hundred thousand dollars later (scrambled together by me, my family, employers and the insurance companies that fought to throw me off their plans), I have learned that although it worked to an extent, the drug was likely sending me to an early grave while fueling record profits for the drug companies, doctors and hospitals I trusted with my health.
Not only that, likely alternative cures might be right under our noses, but are not being studied in earnest. Cannabis, a federally illegal drug I still risk arrest for purchasing and possessing, is showing signs of putting the disease into complete remission in foreign clinical trials. One-time treatments such as fecal transplants and parasitic worms are also showing promise, but have yet to catch on in favor of expensive pharmaceutical options designed for long-term use.
Because doctors believe Crohn’s disease can only ever be treated, not cured, very little research has been done on these alternative therapies and diet or lifestyle changes that could help treat or cure the illness. Crohn’s disease and conditions like it (both autoimmune and gastrointestinal) have been on the rise and have become really big business. Patients like me seeking alternative treatments are usually left to self-educate and pursue the treatments independent of their healthcare coverage. In the case of cannabis that means risking one’s freedom for the sake of one’s health.