CBD and Your Digestive System

Stomach upset? It’s not uncommon. In fact, 40 percent of people have at least one symptom of digestive issues at any one time.[1] An upset stomach is actually just one of those problems. Bloating, heartburn, bleeding, diarrhea, even swallowing problems, and weight loss are all symptoms of digestive tract issues, and the problems can range from mild to severe.

As researchers continue to explore the benefits of CBD for a range of health and wellness issues – from back pain, skin problems, insomnia, inflammation and anxiety, and stress – they are looking at the use of this natural chemical to treat digestive disorders, which affect 62 million Americans each year.[2]

For example, research has focused on the use of CBD for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which includes Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease, a more severe but no less common digestive problem.

The Endocannabinoid System and Gut Health

Underlying the potential value of CBD for a range of gastrointestinal problems is the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of neurotransmitters that send chemical messages between the neurons or cells that transmit nerve impulses. A properly functioning endocannabinoid system ensures that cells maintain optimum performance for your health and well-being.

When something in your external environment causes a cell to become out of balance, the ECS comes into play to make immediate adjustments to bring things back into balance. That balance is called homeostasis.[3] The ECS naturally produces cannabinoid-like molecules that stimulate the body's cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are in many areas of the body, such as the brain, muscles, and gastrointestinal (GI) tract.[4]  CBD interacts with ECS receptors to help regulate sleep, appetite, mood, immune function, inflammatory disorders, and pain.

The ECS, which is widely distributed throughout the gastrointestinal system, helps to regulate digestion and also helps to protect the body from foreign bacteria and viruses. Found in the gut’s nerves and in the cells of the immune system, the ECS works to maintain homeostasis of gastric motility (the muscular contractions that work to move food through the bowel), intestinal pain signaling, intestinal inflammation, and maintenance of the barrier of the gut lining.[5]

In addition to reducing inflammation in the gut, CBD research suggests that the active compound can be beneficial for improving the type of immune process that originates in the gut. It turns out that a significant portion of the immune system is actually in the gastrointestinal tract.  The immune response goes into overdrive with many types of gastrointestinal imbalance, which causes inflammation. The body attacks what it perceives as invaders. CBD may regulate immune response to lower a hyperactive immune system. This provides one more way to reduce inflammation and can also improve immune-related processes like handling allergens and toxins.[6]

By making a significant difference in reducing inflammation and improving immune response, CBD may help address the symptoms of many gastrointestinal problems.[7]

What’s the Right CBD Dosage?

You should check with your doctor about how much CBD to take, especially if you are taking other medications.  While some doctors are new to CBD, they still may be able to provide CBD dosage recommendations.  Ideally, you’ll want to start with a small dose of CBD and increase it slowly until you get the desired effect.

[1] WayOfLeaf Staff, “CBD for Digestive Problems {Does it Really Work?}, WayofLeaf, March 10, 2020. https://wayofleaf.com/cbd/ailments/cbd-for-digestive-problems
[2] “Overview of Digestive Disorders,” The Endoscopy Center, accessed December 26, 2020. https://www.endo-world.com/resources/e-learning-patient-education/general-guides/overview-of-digestive-diseases/
[3] Nunley, Kim, “Here’s How CBD Can Help Whether You’re Healthy Or Not,” Medical Marijuana, Inc., September 17, 2019. https://www.medicalmarijuanainc.com/heres-cbd-can-help-whether-youre-healthy-not/
[4] Chin, June, “The Mind/Gut/CBD Connection - Dr. Chin Explains CBD'S Impact on Gut Health,” Green Entrepreneur, August 17, 2020. https://www.greenentrepreneur.com/article/354652
[5] Goldstein, Bonni, MD, “Cannabis for Gastrointestinal Disorders,” Project CBD, September 28, 2020. https://www.projectcbd.org/medicine/cannabis-gastrointestinal-disorders
[6] Millard, Elizabeth, “CBD and Gut Health, An Overview,” August 13,2020. https://www.remedyreview.com/health/cbd-and-gut-health-an-overview/
[7] IBID