CBD for intestinal diseases: current research on its potential benefits

CBD oil for bowel and digestive diseases

Digestive diseases affect millions of people worldwide, and finding effective solutions can be a challenge. In recent years, the CBD (cannabidiol) has gained popularity as a possible treatment for various health problems, including digestive disorders, and especially those affecting the gut. In this article, we will take a closer look at the therapeutic potential of CBD in the management of digestive disorders and the most recent scientific studies that support its potential efficacy.

CBD and its action on the digestive system

Digestive diseases are linked to alterations in the endocannabinoid system, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and gastrointestinal motility disorders.

CBD, by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system, can regulate physiological processes related to the digestive system.

Mechanism of action

CBD interacts with receptors of the endocannabinoid system, such as CB1 and CB2, which are distributed throughout the brain and in the cells of the digestive system. In addition, CBD has the ability to activate and inhibit several enzymes and other cellular receptors (1). All of this means that CBD has different ways in which it can help some digestive system conditions.

What digestive diseases might CBD be useful for?

CBD shows therapeutic potential for the following digestive diseases:

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), due to its anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), by influencing gastrointestinal motility and reducing stress.
  • Crohn’s disease, by alleviating symptoms, although its action is more effective when combined with THC;
  • Ulcerative colitis: due to its anti-inflammatory properties; gastrointestinal motility disorders such as constipation and diarrhea.
  • Nausea and vomiting, due to the antiemetic properties of CBD; and in cases of stress and anxiety that present these symptoms.

Below, we tell you more about the research that supports the beneficial potential of CBD for these conditions. We remind you that this is an informative post, based on ongoing research, and cannot and is not intended to diagnose, prevent or cure any disease or symptom. Its content can complement, but never replace, the diagnosis or treatment of any disease or symptom. Cannactiva products are not medicines and are intended for external use. Consult with your physician before using CBD.

How does CBD help with digestive diseases?

CBD offers a number of potential benefits in the treatment of digestive diseases:

Pain relief

The benefit of CBD as an analgesic has been studied in different conditions. In digestive diseases, results indicate that CBD can decrease intestinal motility, which may be related to a lower perception of pain.

Studies suggest that CBD may decrease intestinal motility and thus abdominal pain.

Intestinal motility is the natural movement of the digestive tract (esophagus, stomach and intestines) to move food through it. This motility is linked to pain perception in digestive diseases (2).

In contrast, a study conducted in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) indicated that CBD had no significant effect on pain perception when administered in chewing gum (3). However, the reduction of intestinal motility exerted by CBD could generate relief by helping to manage abdominal pain in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (4).

Reduction of inflammation

In diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, inflammation is an important factor in their persistence and development. The anti-inflammatory effect of CBD can help in intestinal diseases (5) such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colitis (6).

Protection of the intestinal wall

CBD has antioxidant properties that could play an essential role in protecting the intestine against free radicals, which can cause damage to the intestinal walls. Studies have suggested that CBD may help preserve the integrity of the surface layer of the intestine, known as the epithelium, in inflammatory processes (7, 8).

Stress and anxiety reduction

CBD is associated with a sedative effect (9) that could decrease the effects of stress and reduce the severity of anxiety with a fairly broad safety profile (10).

CBD has a sedative effect that can decrease the effects of stress. It has also shown potential as an effective anxiolytic, which may be beneficial for people with digestive diseases.

Improved intestinal motility

CBD has been shown to influence gastrointestinal motility in disease processes and may help increase or decrease the transit of intestinal contents as required (11, 12, 13). This is of utmost importance for conditions such as constipation and diarrhea; as well as for the perception of pain characteristic of gastrointestinal diseases where there is an alteration of motility (4).

Modulation of the immune system

The effect of CBD may help decrease the immune response in some autoimmune diseases (14), suggesting that patients with intestinal autoimmune diseases may benefit.

Crohn’s disease is an immune disorder that causes inflammation and irritation of the digestive system. Although CBD does not appear to reduce intestinal inflammation significantly (15) in this disease, it has been associated with relief of some of the symptoms of Crohn’s disease when combinations of CBD with THC or tetrahydrocannabinol are used (16).

Nausea and vomiting

Some studies suggest that CBD may have antiemetic properties (17), meaning that it may help relieve nausea and vomiting.

CBD for the stomach: is it effective for dyspepsia or indigestion?

In digestive disorders such as dyspepsia or indigestion, although we might think that CBD would have beneficial effects, it seems to have no effect on this condition (18).

Limitations of the studies

Research on CBD in digestive disorders may lead to better treatments. However, it should not be forgotten that there are some limitations to the research findings. They have mostly been performed in animal models or small human populations, which may not be representative of the complex clinical pictures presented by digestive diseases.

CBD dosage for digestive disorders

Currently, there is no standardized dose of CBD as a treatment for digestive diseases. However, preclinical studies in rodents have used oral doses of 10 mg/kg per day for colitis and in clinical studies where the efficacy of CBD in digestive disorders has been analyzed, oral doses of 250 mg twice daily were used for colitis for 8 weeks to 10 weeks (7, 19).

Final considerations

CBD in digestive diseases may work as a complementary therapy, although more research is needed. Consult your doctor if you have any doubts.

Drug interactions

If you are taking medications for digestive diseases, you should be cautious about possible drug interactions.

Drug interactions with CBD, although minimal and infrequent, are an important point to consider. Learn more about this topic in our post about CBD and drugs: What are the interactions?

Multifactorial treatment of intestinal diseases

Another important point is that changes in lifestyle and eating habits can help in the treatment of digestive diseases.

In English, the expression have a gut feeling (literally “to have a gut feeling”, although it would be translated as “to have a presentiment or intuition”) to refer to an intuition or presentiment, which is not necessarily based on logic. There are other similar expressions, such as “trust your gut” or “have butterflies in your stomach”. And in Spanish, “tener una reacción visceral”. All these expressions of popular language relate emotions to the gut.

Interestingly, there is a scientific basis for these expressions. The gut produces a large amount of neurotransmitters, which allows it to communicate with the brain in a bidirectional manner. This connection between the gut and the brain is called the gut-brain axis. Intestinal diseases can be greatly influenced by mental and emotional state. Therefore, stress reduction and psychotherapy can be an essential pillar in the treatment of these diseases.

Does CBD work for digestive diseases?

While early research suggests that CBD in the management of digestive diseases may be promising, more research is still needed. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of CBD can help alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life of affected individuals.

However, it is always important to consult with a healthcare professional before considering CBD for digestive conditions or any adjunctive treatment. Since only the physician can provide personalized guidance based on individual health and medical history.

Finally, as more research is conducted, CBD may become an important tool in the fight against digestive disorders, bringing hope to those seeking relief and wellness.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prevent or cure any disease or symptom. Its content can complement, but never replace, the diagnosis or treatment of any disease or symptom. Cannactiva products are not medicines and are intended for external use. We recommend that you consult a health professional before using CBD products.

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Masha Burelo
Investigadora en cannabinoides | Doctoranda en Neurociencia

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