Can consuming marijuana affect aggravate ulcerative colitis?

Question

Hello. I am a 31 year old HIV+ male. I was diagnosed in 2007 while having a very bad flare up of what I was told was ulcerative colitis. At the time I did not know I had UC. I asked my doctor if smoking pot would be contraindicated for me. Of course, I know it's not good period but it helps me sleep and eat. My doctor said it was ok. I have been smoking 2 joints a night before go to bed. I am on Atripla - it is the only med I am on for my HIV. For the past few month my stomach has gotten much worse. I stopped the pot but it's been only a week and there is no improvement. I am on prilosec, pepcid, and phenergan. I take all these meds and feel no improvement. I have had an endoscopy and colonoscopy yearly since 07 but everything always comes back normal. I recently also had an upper GI exam that was also normal. So why am I so sick? I am undetectable even under the new standards. My cd4 was 634 not even 3 month ago. So could it be the pot and, if so, how long do I have to stay off it to feel better? Please help.

Answer

I understand your frustration with not finding an answer. A recent medical journal article appeared to confirm anecdotal reports that cannabis use may actually have some therapeutic effect for inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis is a form of IBD). Unfortunately marijuana smoke contains more toxins than nicotine smoke, so that might be aggravating your symptoms. if you feel the marijuana was helpful, you may want to discuss with your doctor the possibility of trying one of the prescription drugs that contain synthetic THC as you look for broader solutions for your ulcerative colitis.

Here is a link to a resource website that has information on treatment, drug trials, and other resources.

-David