What You Need to Know About Using CBD for IBS
The Curious Role of the Endocannabinoid System in Gut Health
With the increasing legalization of cannabis and its by-products in the United States, CBD oil — otherwise known as cannabidiol — is everywhere. You can find it in gas stations, grocery stores, as well as in specialty boutiques and cannabis dispensaries, and it’s recommended for a wide range of health concerns.
One of the things CBD is recommended for is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Some early research suggests that CBD may be able to influence your gut inflammation, motility, and even your gut microbiome. Is CBD for IBS a valid treatment option?
Currently, there is almost no direct research suggesting that CBD can improve IBS symptoms.
Let’s explore what CBD is, what we know about the effects of CBD for IBS and the digestive system, and what we know and don’t know about how it may treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or other digestive conditions.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many cannabinoids, which are cannabis plant compounds produced by Cannabis sativa and hemp plants. CBD is non-intoxicating and non-psychoactive. CBD’s more famous cousin, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), is the cannabinoid responsible for the well-known psychoactive effects of smoking or consuming cannabis.
Companies that sell CBD products promote it to help remedy a wide range of health concerns, such as chronic pain [ 1
Trusted Source PubMed Go to source ], headaches, joint pain, appetite, sleep, and digestive complaints like IBS.
CBD appears to be able to act as a pain reliever and has anti-inflammatory properties several hundred times stronger than aspirin . However, there is a tendency to generalize claims about full-spectrum cannabis — extracts of whole cannabis — and CBD alone. To more fully explain, we need to dive into the specifics of the endocannabinoid system.
Endocannabinoid System 101
It may surprise you to learn that the human body creates its own cannabinoids and has a vast network of cannabinoid receptors.
This means your body is wired to benefit from cannabinoids. This endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays an important role in the development, balancing, and resilience of your central nervous system and immune system [3, 4
There are two main types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1, and CB2. CB1 receptors are concentrated primarily in your brain and peripheral nervous system, while CB2 receptors are located not only in your brain and nervous system but also in your digestive and immune systems [ 5
Trusted Source PubMed Go to source ]. CBD can bind to either type of cannabinoid receptor.
Some researchers have proposed that endocannabinoid deficiency may influence gut conditions like IBS, pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and migraines [ 6
Trusted Source PubMed Go to source ], as well as autoimmune diseases [ 7
Trusted Source PubMed Go to source ]. Endogenous cannabinoids (meaning those produced by your body), like anandamide, are thought to influence pain perception and gut motility (the movement of waste through your digestive tract) [ 8
Trusted Source PubMed Go to source ]. For this reason, many people are excited about the potential of cannabinoids like CBD to help chronic pain, opioid addiction, and IBS symptoms like bloating, constipation, and hypersensitivity [ 9
CBD for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive tract disorder. Frequent digestive systemsymptoms of IBS include [ 10
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Diarrhea or loose stool (IBS-D), or constipation (IBS-C)
- Food sensitivities
The root causes of IBS vary widely, from bacterial overgrowth to nervous system imbalances that affect gut motility. Because of this, treating IBS requires a multi-faceted approach.
Many people with other digestive conditions — such as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis — also have IBS symptoms.
Does CBD Help IBS?
There is not yet clear evidence that CBD can help IBS symptoms, despite some interesting preliminary results and hopeful theories.
In the end, dietary changes such as a low FODMAP diet [ 11
Trusted Source PubMed Go to source ] have proven and documented benefits for IBS where you don’t have to wait for further research. So, while we explore the research so far about CBD and IBS, please don’t ignore more proven approaches.
Multiple literature reviews suggest that targeting the endocannabinoid system with CBD or other cannabinoids may provide some benefit for IBS patients and their symptom flare-ups, as well as patients with other gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) [ 16
However, there is little direct clinical evidence to suggest you are likely to benefit from CBD if you have IBS symptoms..
Here is a summary of the evidence that suggests CBD may be beneficial for IBS symptoms:
In a large observational study, CBD was associated with reduced gut and non-specified pain [ 19
Trusted Source PubMed Go to source ], normalize both slow and fast gut motility , and positively affect nerve channels that regulate gut motility and secretion [ 25
Out of all these studies, only two are placebo-controlled clinical trials. The rest are lower quality observational, or animal studies, which may or may not have relevance for humans, and none of them specifically studied IBS. So even though these are positive findings, they are not a clear endorsement of CBD.
Add to that the following study results, which don’t support using CBD for IBS symptoms:
A 2021 SR/MA of 15 nonrandomized studies and 5 RCTs concluded that cannabinoids do not induce clinical remission or affect inflammation in IBD patients (although there may be some improvement in symptoms) [ 27
Using CBD for IBS
CBD oil is allowed to be sold throughout the United States as long as the THC content is below 0.3%. People typically consume CBD products orally as an oil, but they can also be consumed as a tincture (a preparation of CBD in alcohol or glycerin) or edible product (like a gummy or baked good).
In states where cannabis is legal, either for medicinal or recreational use, some CBD products may contain varying levels of THC. Some evidence suggests that therapeutic results are better when CBD is given together with other cannabinoids, including THC [ 30
Trusted Source PubMed Go to source ]. This is known as the “entourage effect.” However, not everyone wants the psychoactive side effects of THC. Read your labels carefully, or request help interpreting the information on product labels.
Your ideal dosage will vary widely depending on your body’s needs, the potency of the product, and your tolerance. For best results, consult with a health care provider or medical professional who is knowledgeable about CBD dosing and your medical condition.
CBD Oil Side Effects and Safety
If you want to try CBD for IBS, keep the following considerations in mind.
CBD Side Effects
CBD is often promoted as a safer alternative to medications, but some people do experience side effects.
CBD and other cannabinoids are metabolized in the liver and intestines.
Too much CBD can damage the liver, especially if mixed with other medications, such as leflunomide, lomitapide, mipomersen, pexidartinib, teriflunomide, and valproate . If you are taking these medications or have an existing liver condition, consult a physician before using CBD.
CBD oil consumption can cause possible side effects [ 32
Trusted Source PubMed Go to source ]. These include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Diarrhea 
- Decreased appetite
- A minority of people may have an intolerance to cannabis oil or its carrier oils such as sesame oil.
A systematic review and meta-analysis found that adverse gastrointestinal tract events may be more common when CBD and other cannabis-based medicines are ingested rather than inhaled [ 36
Non-FDA-approved CBD products on the market vary greatly in quality and consistency. This raises two potential issues:
Without independent laboratory verification, one cannot know whether the dosage of such products is accurate, if the THC content is less than 0.3%, and whether they are unadulterated and uncontaminated [ 37
Always buy CBD products from manufacturers who are transparent about their production methods, quality-control measures, and potency. Look for independent laboratory verification of product contents.
Probiotics and the Endocannabinoid System
Some very early evidence suggests that the gut microbiome may influence the endocannabinoid system [ 38
One clinical study showed that Lactobacillus probiotic supplementation increased the function of cannabinoid and opioid receptors and reduced pain [ 39
Trusted Source PubMed Go to source ]. Dogs with motility problems who were given probiotics showed an increase in cannabinoid receptor action and improved motility [ 40
Trusted Source PubMed Go to source ]. Another study, albeit in mice, suggested that CBD increased the abundance of beneficial gut bacteria but also increased the expression of inflammatory cytokines [ 41
We know that probiotics are a clinically effective treatment option for a wide range of digestive complaints [ 42
Trusted Source PubMed Go to source ]. We don’t need to know whether their interaction with the endocannabinoid system is one more reason for their benefits, but it’s an interesting line of research for the future.
The Truth About CBD for IBS
CBD may be popular, but there isn’t yet proof that it helps IBS symptoms. While early data suggest it may play a helpful role in regulating gut motility, reducing gut pain, and supporting the nervous system, much more research is needed.
There are many proven and effective treatments for IBS, and it makes sense to keep your focus on these approaches. However, If you’re CBD curious, try CBD as a short-term trial and don’t expect miracles.
Using CBD for IBS Symptoms and Pain – Our Guide
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that causes mild to very severe gastrointestinal inflammation distress in the gastrointestinal system.
More women than men have IBS, and symptoms usually first appear in early adulthood. The symptoms of IBS are similar to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the main difference is that IBD involves the inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. But both can include abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, gas, nausea, diarrhoea and/or constipation.
IBS is a chronic condition with no known cure, meaning that people who have it need help to manage their symptoms long-term. The good news is that CBD (extracted from a cannabis plant) is known to help ease IBS symptoms and could have modest benefits for inflammatory bowel disease as well.
IBS is also strongly linked to fibromyalgia, another disorder that involves chronic pain. Up to 60% of people with IBS also have fibromyalgia, while up to 90% of people with fibromyalgia have symptoms of IBS . You can read more about using CBD oils for fibromyalgia her e.
IS CBD GOOD FOR IBS SYMPTOMS?
The cannabis plant has been used for centuries to treat a variety of gastrointestinal problems, including nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, inflammation in the bowels, intestinal an abdominal pain.
Recent research has shown that cannabinoids naturally produced in the body have an important role in regulating the gastrointestinal system, which is full of cannabinoid receptors that help these cannabinoids function – cannabinoid receptors that may also help ingested cannabinoids, such as CBD, to have a direct impact on the health of the gastrointestinal system, and on conditions such as IBS.
IBS SYMPTOMS AND HOW CBD CAN HELP
- Bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhoea: CBD oils & other products may help to relax the tissues in the GI tract, which can lead to fewer spasmodic episodes. These episodes are among the worst symptoms experienced by most people with IBS.
- Nausea and lack of appetite: Nausea is a common symptom of IBS, which makes it difficult for sufferers to eat regularly. This, in turn, can lead IBS symptoms to flare up again when a person finally eats after a long period.
- Pain and inflammation: CBD may help reduce abdominal pain and inflammation in the digestive system, reducing both the symptoms of IBS and the discomfort associated with them.
- Intestinal hypermotility: Some IBS sufferers deal with intestinal hypermotility, where food moves too quickly through the digestive system, causing dehydration, poor digestion, and impaired absorption of nutrients. Hypermotility is often caused by anxiety, which may be improved by using CBD.
SUGGESTED CBD DOSAGE FOR IBS SUFFERERS?
If you are new to CBD we recommend you start on a low dose, building up to a stronger dose only if it feels necessary. Our 4% Full Spectrum CBD Oil is a good option for beginners.
If you feel the need to increase your dose, or if you are already a CBD user and know you need a higher dose, we also stock 8% CBD Oil and 15% CBD Oil .
To take CBD oils orally, we recommend you take 1 to 3 drops under the tongue twice per day. Keep the drops under your tongue for a minimum of one minute before swallowing. This enables the CBD to get into your bloodstream faster so it can more rapidly begin to take effect.
If this is not your preferred way to enjoy the potential benefits of CBD, you may like to try our CBD Capsules which also contain turmeric and black pepper and they have no taste.
HOW TO TAKE CBD FOR IBS SYMPTOMS?
For IBS symptoms, most people find that taking CBD oil at a regular time each morning has the best overall positive effect. CBD does not have drowsiness as a side-effect, and it does not contain the psychoactive element of cannabis, THC. This means that CBD does not produce a ‘high,’ and should not reduce your ability to go about your daily activities.
RESEARCH INTO USING CBD FOR IBS
Recent research has found that CBD is effective at reducing inflammation in the gut and resulting intestinal damage .
Cannabinoids (such as CBD) have also demonstrated the ability to block gastrointestinal tract mechanisms that promote abdominal pain in IBS and related disorders .
Still more research has revealed the important role of the body’s endocannabinoid system in the control of a variety of gastrointestinal functions, including motility, gut–brain-mediated fat intake and hunger signalling, inflammation and gut permeability, and dynamic interactions with gut microbiota , suggesting more possible uses for CBD in treating gastrointestinal disorders.
Interestingly, neurologist Ethan Russo, has suggested that irritable bowel syndrome is the result of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD), which may also be worth looking into.
THINGS TO CHECK BEFORE USING CBD TO TACKLE IBS SYMPTOMS
The World Health Organisation has established that Cannabidiol (CBD) ‘does not appear to have abuse potential or cause any harm.’ CBD is not a psychoactive compound, and does not get you high. Most users will not experience any adverse side effects, although it’s possible to feel slightly lightheaded but this varies from person to person.
Before using CBD for IBS, you should ask your doctor if you’re taking any other medications or supplements (prescription or otherwise), especially medications for pain.
CBD interacts with and could slow down the liver enzymes which break down some prescription medications, making it a good idea to get medical advice before using CBD for IBS.
If you’re tired of the discomfort, pain and oftentimes embarrassing symptoms of IBS, it may be time to consider trying CBD oil to relieve your IBS symptoms.
CBD Oil is a natural, plant-based product that many users have found effective for improving their IBS symptoms, from bloating and gas to diarrhea, nausea, and pain.
If you found this guide helpful and want to research other related guides to CBD, you might find our other articles useful, including:
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KYND products are intended for use by those of the appropriate legal age according to local law.
Best Way to Take CBD Oil for IBS
IBS is an uncomfortable condition that affects around 35 million people in the United States. Since many conventional treatments for IBS cause significant side effects, people who suffer from the symptoms of IBS are on the hunt for alternative treatments. In this guide, learn if CBD works for IBS, and find out the best ways to take this cannabinoid if you’re suffering from IBS symptoms.
Does CBD help IBS?
Over the last decade or so, research into CBD has accelerated at an unprecedented pace, and scientists have realized that CBD may help with a wide variety of serious conditions. While there is no definitive answer regarding whether CBD can help with IBS, a significant amount of research has been invested into this subject, and scientists continue to investigate the potential benefits of CBD when it comes to inflammatory conditions like IBS.
What’s clear is that CBD, as a derivative of the hemp plant, does not have intoxicating properties, making this cannabinoid very different from THC, which is an intoxicating and addictive substance found in the cannabis plant. Therefore, IBS patients can try CBD without worrying about intoxication or any other significant adverse effects.
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an inflammatory condition that affects the colon (large intestine). The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are diarrhea and constipation, but other symptoms associated with IBS include abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, and gas. As one of the most uncomfortable conditions that can affect the digestive tract, people with IBS are constantly searching for safe, natural forms of IBS relief.
How does CBD Oil Work?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that does not significantly stimulate the CB1 and CB2 receptors. These cannabinoid receptors cause the feeling of intoxication that accompanies THC use, and even though full-spectrum CBD can contain up to 0.3% THC, that’s not enough to activate your CB2 or CB1 receptors.
At the same time, CBD has a profound effect on the human endocannabinoid system, which manages a variety of essential bodily processes including digestion. Some researchers believe that endocannabinoid deficiency could be one of the primary causes of both physical and mental health conditions, suggesting that taking CBD oil could offer a wide range of beneficial effects.
What research says about CBD for IBS
As an inflammatory disease that affects the digestive system, IBS is a prime target of natural therapies that provide anti-inflammatory benefits within the digestive tract. While we cannot provide medical advice or make claims regarding the usefulness of taking CBD for any condition, we can still examine the evidence that has been accumulated regarding the use of CBD in treating IBS.
Research into CBD for Inflammation
CBD has been researched extensively for its potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists are keenly interested in determining the potential usefulness of CBD in relieving chronic inflammatory pain and the symptoms of inflammatory conditions like IBS.
Research into CBD for Gastrointestinal Conditions
Researchers have examined the potential usefulness of CBD as a natural modulator of your gut’s mucosal defense system, which plays a critical role in preventing the symptoms of IBS. Current research into the effects of CBD on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is highly limited, but early results have been promising.
How much CBD oil should I take for IBS?
Different CBD oils contain different amounts of CBD, and each CBD ingestion method affects your body differently. If you decide to use CBD for IBS, however, you may want to start with a standard dose of 10-20 milligrams taken orally per day. In clinical studies, CBD doses as high as 1,500mg tincture which is 50mg of CBD per day have been shown to be well-tolerated in human subjects, but if you’d prefer to use CBD products as sparingly as possible, even a low dose might provide the beneficial effects you’re looking for.
How should I take CBD oil for the best results?
There are quite a few different ways you can take CBD, and some might be more effective for IBS than others:
CBD tinctures for IBS
As orally ingested CBD products, CBD tinctures deliver this cannabinoid directly into your digestive tract. Along the way, however, the CBD in your tincture will also be absorbed under your tongue, potentially limiting the amount of CBD that reaches your digestive system.
CBD capsules for IBS
CBD capsules pass down your esophagus before releasing CBD into your stomach. As a result, capsules might deliver CBD into your digestive tract more efficiently than other ingestion methods.
CBD edibles for IBS
CBD edibles are tasty and convenient, but a lot of the CBD they contain is absorbed into the lining of your mouth as you chew. IBS sufferers might be better off choosing CBD capsules instead.
CBD topicals for IBS
Water-based CBD topicals penetrate your skin and spread CBD throughout underlying tissues. However, topically applied CBD might not penetrate deeply enough to deliver significant concentrations of this cannabinoid into your digestive tract.
Can you rub CBD oil on your stomach?
When you experience abdominal pain due to irritable bowel syndrome, it’s only natural to try addressing the symptoms of this condition at their source. Oil-based CBD products, however, offer very poor skin penetration, so applying CBD oil directly to your stomach is unlikely to provide the results you desire. Use a water-based CBD topical formulation instead, or use an orally ingested CBD product that delivers this cannabinoid directly into your digestive tract.
Using CBD for IBS: The Bottom Line
There isn’t enough evidence to definitively determine whether CBD might help relieve the symptoms of IBS. What’s clear, however, is that every form of CBD is non-intoxicating and remarkably non-toxic, so there’s no reason you should avoid using CBD products as you pursue weight loss and make other lifestyle changes that might help manage IBS. Anyone who has this condition would prefer to treat IBS naturally, and IBS sufferers have nothing to lose by trying CBD oil for this uncomfortable and inconvenient condition.