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Best Way to Take CBD Oil for IBS: Cannabis & Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Popular wisdom declares that the most common effect of cannabis on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is the phenomenon known as the “munchies.” These food cravings are triggered in the brain,...

Popular wisdom declares that the most common effect of cannabis on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is the phenomenon known as the “munchies.” These food cravings are triggered in the brain, not the GI tract, and are about more than encouraging eating; they are a mechanism to encourage the consumption of rich, high-fat foods. [1]

The regulatory functions of the GI tract are tightly linked to the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the body’s endocannabinoids regulate just about all gut function. The actions of the GI tract are primarily controlled by the enteric nervous system, a meshwork of 100 million neurons located in the GI tract. Both CB1 and CB2 receptors are found on these enteric neurons. From feeding to insulin production to fat storage, endocannabinoids and their receptors are crucial to how the body acquires energy through the GI tract and uses it. [2] For more information, read The Endocannabinoid System Explained.

The Endocannabinoid System

The profusion of CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors located within the gastrointestinal system is a primary reason that cannabis has been used effectively for gastrointestinal disorders, from cramping and vomiting to pain and inflammatory conditions. Cannabinoids interact with a range of gut receptors, including TRPV1 receptors. Cannabinoid receptors and their endocannabinoids maintain the integrity of the epithelial barrier and regulate GI motility and secretion. There are other gut receptors that interact with the endocannabinoid system: The TRPV1 thermo-receptor that interacts with capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers; the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha (PPARa) that regulates lipid metabolism; and the “orphan” cannabinoid receptors, GPR55 and GPR119, all contribute to endocannabinoid system regulation of the gut. [3]

Due to the widespread occurrence of cannabinoid receptors throughout the entire GI tract, it isn’t of any surprise that cannabinoids provide a range of effective treatments for GI disorders. Cannabinoids could eventually provide treatments for colorectal cancer, since a range of these cannabinoids have shown promise in preliminary cell studies of several lines of these tumors. [4] Endocannabinoids have been found to encourage cell death in some gastrointestinal cancer cells in laboratory studies. See our article on Cannabinoids in Hemp.

best way to take cbd oil for ibs

Hemp History for Gut Health

Some of the earliest use of medicinal cannabis happened in India around 5000 b.c.e., where the plant was used to stimulate appetite and counter weight loss. [5] By 1900, hemp was prescribed by doctors in Europe and North America to treat diarrhea, stomach pain, and gastrointestinal disorders. [6] In the early 1980s, a University of California professor studied the use of hemp to treat gastric pain in a population from remote fishing villages in which peptic ulcers were unusually prevalent. [7] Modern Indian Ayurvedic medicine recommends hemp for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic diarrhea, and Crohn’s disease.

In the 1970s, studies discovered that tolerance reduced tetrahydrocannabinol (THC’s) ability to slow down movement through the intestinal tract. What this means is that chronic, high-dose use of marijuana (the street form), or of medical cannabis high in THC, could reduce the effectiveness of hemp for treating the symptoms of bowel disorders where motility is impaired. In Israel, a small study of Crohn’s patients discovered that hemp treatment resulted in a remission of symptoms in more than half of the participants. [8] Both small-scale observational and clinical data indicate that THC-dominant cannabis medicines improve appetite among Crohn’s patients. [9]

A large majority of people utilizing hemp with severe inflammatory bowel disease have reported that hemp reduces the frequency and severity of nausea episodes. [10] Cannabinoids have the ability to balance or bring order to gut pain and visceral sensation as demonstrated in a variety of experimental models, which supports patient reports of hemp medicines providing distraction and relief from Crohn’s-related pain. [11] A 2017 review provided an overview of the current understanding of the ECS in the gut in inflammatory bowel disorders. [12]

How Hemp Works for IBS

Endocannabinoid production levels increase in the brain between meals until they eventually trigger feeding, then drop when feeding begins. Within the GI tract, CB1 receptors respond to endocannabinoid signaling to regulate a wide range of functions, including stomach acid secretion, stomach emptying, pyloric valve contraction, and the ability to move food along the digestive tract. Additionally, CB1 and CB2 receptors can modulate pain signaling in the gut. The production of CB2 receptors within the gut may be stimulated by probiotic bacteria, and because of CB2’s role in the gut’s immune response, it may explain the mechanism by which probiotics reduce some forms of intestinal inflammation. [13] The endocannabinoid receptor, GPR55, is pro-inflammatory when activated, and linked to colon cancer, but CBD works as an antagonist for this receptor and inhibits that response. [14] Beta-caryophyllene, as a CB2 agonist, was effective in limiting intestinal damage in a mouse model of colitis.

Medical disclaimer: the information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Prior to making changes to your treatment plan or lifestyle, consult with your doctor. The benefits of CBD products and CBD oil made from the cannabis plant and the side effects of IBS treatment with full spectrum CBD product types should be discussed with your doctor. The best CBD for managing IBS symptoms is one that follows some of the guidance outlined in this article based off of the medical literature. When managing symptoms of IBS with CBD oils such as diarrhea and constipation, abdominal pain localised in the digestive system, you may find that it is best to start low and slow, titrating the dose up until IBS symtoms subside and digestive health improves. Always start with a micro dose to test for sensitivity, and gradually increase over time.

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Is CBD oil good for irritable bowel syndrome?

The exact dosage of medicinal cannabis is dependent. Appetite stimulation needs only a tiny dose of THC (2-mg), and on the other hand, nausea can require doses as high as 20 mg. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) inhibits gut transit, and was traditionally used to treat diarrhea. Cannabidiol (CBD) speeds up gut transit and is useful for increasing motility. CBD brings more calm to gut inflammation by antagonizing the GRP55 receptor. Research into the use of the non-intoxicating, analgesic cannabinoid CBG seems to be of value in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis. [15]

What is the fastest way to absorb CBD?

Hemp products taken orally can be very soothing to the gut, if correctly prepared and dosed. Many people vaporize or smoke cannabis for GI disorders, though taken sublingually under the tongue, or as edibles, or oils can also be of value for gut disturbances.

Best Strain for Irritable Bowel Disorder

Strains high in the terpene beta-caryophyllene, such as Cookies, for inflammatory gut conditions and diarrhea can be of value. High-THC skunk strains that produce both CBG and the terpene myrcene, such as Pincher Creek and Skunk #1, can assist with pain. Type II strains, such as CBD Cookies, for inflammation and constipation. See our Ultimate Guide to Terpenes.

For more information, see our other articles on gut health;

Hemp for Crohn’s, Colitis, and IBD / IBS

CBD for IBS, Digestive Issues and Bowel Disorders

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