A reader comes out of the cannabis closet:
I wanted to echo the reader whose colitis went into remission after beginning to smoke. I spent my high school and college years attacked by reoccurring flares of colitis. There were days where I had to crawl to the bathroom because I was so weak. On a day I was bloated, in pain, and in bed, an episode of House MD came on where he recommended smoking to a patient with colitis. Unfortunately in my condition I had no access to cigarettes, but I had a friend who smoked weed endlessly. As an evangelical Christian who didn’t drink, smoke, or even go to R-rated movies, the idea of “smoking” was sacrilege – but that was nothing compared to my physical torment, so on the advice of a doctor on TV, I inhaled. It went into remission almost the next day, and I haven’t had a flare since.
Another makes an important distinction:
Your reader with ulcerative colitis tells only half of this mysterious story. Crohn’s disease, the other major type of inflammatory bowel disease – which has very similar symptoms and can be equally debilitating – is exacerbated by smoking. Nobody knows why nicotine affects UC positively and Crohn’s negatively, but it’s being intensively investigated. (For that matter, nobody knows for sure what causes either form of IBD to begin with.)
Note: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is not to be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a much less serious condition medically but with similar negative effects on quality-of-life. Smoking exacerbates IBS because anything that irritates the bowel can make IBS symptoms worse. Bowel irritation per se does not seem to be involved where IBD is concerned, or it would have a negative effect on both UC and Crohn’s.