Can Weight Loss Medications Help With IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)?

Explore the benefits and risks of Ozempic for individuals with ulcerative colitis. Uncover how this GLP-1 medication could help manage symptoms and reduce inflammation in IBD.

Table of Contents
  • Irritable Bowel Disease Explained
  • Can you take Mounjaro
  • Ozempic
  • and other GLP-1s with ulcerative colitis?
  • "Can you take Mounjaro
  • Ozempic
  • and other GLP-1s with Crohns disease?"
  • Can GLP-1 medications help with IBD symptoms?
  • Explore GLP-1 medication options

Can you take Ozempic with Ulcerative Colitis? What about Crohn’s disease? And do other GLP-1 medications like Mounjaro have similar effects on these conditions?

If you’re dealing with IBD and are a candidate for GLP-1 medications for diabetes or obesity, you likely have a long list of questions on how these two are related. Find all the answers you need here on managing IBD and its promising relationship to Ozempic and Mounjaro.

Irritable Bowel Disease Explained

Irritable bowel disease, commonly referred to as IBD, is a chronic condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide. 

The umbrella term IBD covers both Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease. These conditions are characterized by autoimmune inflammation in the colon. In other words, the body's immune system mistakes your own healthy cells for foreign cells and triggers the defense mechanism that is meant to fight disease and infection (1)

Diagnosis of IBD typically involves a colonoscopy, enabling visualization of the colon and collection of tissue samples for microscopic examination. Patients with IBD require regular colonoscopies every 1-3 years to monitor disease activity and progression, as well as screening for colorectal cancer given the increased risk.

Individuals with IBD may experience a range of symptoms, including:

  • Cramping or sharp abdominal pain
  • Urgent need to have a bowel movement.
  • Bloody or non-bloody diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite
  • Rectal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Skin rashes
  • Joint pain
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Ulcers

Moreover, people with IBD are prone to developing complications such as:

  • Intestinal strictures (narrowing of the intestine)
  • Fistulas (abnormal connections between organs)
  • Perforation (tearing) of the intestinal wall
  • Malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies
  • Abscesses (pus-filled pockets)

Severe cases might require surgical intervention. Fortunately, medications are available to help alleviate symptoms by reducing inflammation and are administered through injections or infusions. When symptoms worsen, steroid medications like prednisone may be used to suppress inflammation, although they are not suitable for long-term management (2).

Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2022

Can you take Mounjaro, Ozempic, and other GLP-1s with ulcerative colitis?

If you're contemplating starting GLP-1 agonist medications and have concerns about its safety with conditions like Crohn’s or UC, you can rest assured that it's generally considered safe to do so. There are no specific contraindications indicating that having either disease should prevent you from taking medications like Ozempic or Mounjaro.

While GLP-1 agonist medications are generally safe, they do have side effects centered around the gastrointestinal tract, such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea. Though there isn't concrete evidence suggesting that individuals with IBD might be more prone to these side effects, the similarity in symptoms warrants consideration.

You should always consult a licensed healthcare professional to discuss your medical history, current conditions, and medications. Your healthcare provider can tailor a plan that safely aligns with your personal goals.

Can you take Mounjaro, Ozempic, and other GLP-1s with Crohn's disease?

Like ulcerative colitis, GLP-1 agonist medications like Ozempic and Mounjaro are considered safe for those with Crohn's disease. The potential side effects are similar and, despite the lack of concrete evidence implying IBD patients are prone to these side effects, it's always crucial to consult a healthcare professional.

Can GLP-1 medications help with IBD symptoms?

The link between GLP-1 agonists and easing symptoms of IBD isn't fully understood yet, but medications like Ozempic and Mounjaro are considered safe for those with Crohn’s or UC. Studies show that people with obesity and IBD are at higher risk of developing additional health issues, lending weight to exploring this intersection (3).

Both obesity and IBD involve chronic inflammation. This inflammation isn't just limited to the gut; it affects other organs too. Both conditions stimulate the release of pro-inflammatory molecules, making them potential targets for biological medications, like Infliximab or Humira which aim to calm down the immune response (4).

This commonality raises the question: Could GLP-1 agonists be helpful as additional therapies for IBD?

Promisingly, because GLP-1 medications promote weight loss and, therefore, reduce fat tissue, they might help downregulate pro-inflammatory molecules. This creates a hypothesis that inflammation could be reduced through weight loss, possibly improving outcomes for people with IBD (1).

A recent study in Denmark showed that GLP-1 agonists may improve the disease course of IBD. This study was done in patients who had both Type 2 Diabetes and IBD and observed clinical outcomes in patients who were taking GLP-1 agonist or DPP-4 inhibitors, another type of glucose-lowering medication. Based on previous studies done in mice, researchers observed that GLP-1 agonists/DPP-4 inhibitors work to reduce inflammation in the gut, so they proposed that the same mechanism may occur in humans  (5, 6).

Human trials studying how GLP-1 agonists affect inflammation and overall treatment effectiveness could potentially improve the lives of those struggling with IBD and obesity. This promising potential of medications like Ozempic and ulcerative colitis, Mounjaro, and Crohn's Disease is a fascinating and crucial field for further research.

Explore GLP-1 medication options

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  1. Zatorski, H., Sałaga, M., & Fichna, J. (2019). Role of glucagon-like peptides in inflammatory bowel diseases—current knowledge and future perspectives. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg’s Archives of Pharmacology, 392(11), 1321–1330.
  2. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2022b, May 16). 
  3. Arvanitakis, K., Koufakis, T., Popovic, D., Maltese, G., Mustafa, O., Doumas, M., Giouleme, O., Kotsa, K., & Germanidis, G. (2023). GLP-1 Receptor Agonists in Obese Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease: from Molecular Mechanisms to Clinical Considerations and Practical Recommendations for Safe and Effective Use. Current Obesity Reports, 12(2), 61–74.
  4. Alharbi, S. H. (2024). Anti-inflammatory role of glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists and its clinical implications. Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 15, 20420188231222367–20420188231222367.
  5. Villumsen, M., Schelde, A. B., Jimenez-Solem, E., Jess, T., & Allin, K. H. (2021). GLP-1 based therapies and disease course of inflammatory bowel disease. EClinicalMedicine, 37, 100979–100979.
  6. Anbazhagan AN, Thaqi M, Priyamvada S, Jayawardena D, Kumar A, Gujral T, Chatterjee I, Mugarza E, Saksena S, Onyuksel H, Dudeja PK. GLP-1 nanomedicine alleviates gut inflammation. Nanomedicine. 2017 Feb;13(2):659-665. doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2016.08.004. Epub 2016 Aug 20. PMID: 27553076; PMCID: PMC5501083.

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