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Can Cannabis Chewing Gum Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

A biotech firm has launched clinical trials in the Netherlands to test whether its CBD chewing gum could help treat irritable bowel syndrome.

Researchers will give a group of 40 adult patients CanChew Plus chewing gum, which contains 50 mg of hemp-derived cannabidiol per serving. Subjects will be able to take up to six servings per day under the study, which will record general relief of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms—most often stomach cramps, bloating, and lower abdominal pain—along with any “change in stool frequency,” according to a press release.

The mint-flavored chewing gum was developed by Axim Biotechnologies, which has offices in New York and the Netherlands.

“IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder and affects up to 15 percent of the worldwide population,” Axim CEO Dr. George E. Anastassov said in a statement, “and It has no sustainable cure.”

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The forthcoming IBS trials were developed by Axim and clinical investigators at the Wageningen University, a leading Dutch research institution and where the trials will be held.

“IBS is a very common and often painful disorder which is still difficult to manage,” Renger Witkamp, a nutrition and pharmacology professor at the school, said in a statement that accompanied the announcement. “People often experience sudden flare-ups and for many it has a negative impact on their quality of life. CBD has shown to have promising effects, but there has been a clear need for practical and effective formulations.”

While CBD is currently available in various forms, Witkamp claims that “providing it via a chewing gum results in sustained release of the compound and better bioavailability.”

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Axim also makes CanChew, a controlled-release CBD chewing gum, and a combination CBD/THC gum called MedChew Rx, which is currently undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of multiple sclerosis-related pain and spasticity. Standard CanChew gum is already available in all 50 US states, the company says, as it contains only hemp-based CBD.

If the IBS trial is successful, said Axim CEO Anastassov, “we will be ready to proceed immediately with further trials on our pharmaceutical grade CanChew Rx products to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.”

In a legal disclosure, the company says it “does not sell or distribute any products that are in violation of the United States Controlled Substances Act”—although the DEA might disagree.