Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound derived primarily from industrial hemp plants, but can also be extracted from all forms of cannabis. While at least one CBD based drug has already been FDA approved, there is a lack of long term research due to the previously questionable legality of cannabis in many areas. However, thanks to the legalization movement, in areas where it is now legal CBD is quickly gaining a reputation as a natural relief supplement that can help with conditions from chronic pain, to anxiety, and more. In this article, we will be discussing specifically whether or not CBD could be a viable treatment option for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition you’ve most likely heard of before. Signs and symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and cramping. While treatment can help, there is no direct cure for this condition. In some cases, it can last for years, or even be lifelong. There is hope, however, as some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle, and stress. IBS is classified as a chronic condition and affects more than 200,000 people in the US each year. People usually develop the condition in their late teens to their early 40s. Medically speaking there is little scholarly information on CBD for IBS. As previously stated this is mainly due to a lack of formal research, however
anecdotal evidence is starting to pile up as CBD users share their personal experiences with CBD online and through word of mouth.
Despite the fact that the condition is non-life threatening, it can dramatically change the way in which a person must live their life. IBS sufferers may miss school or work more often, and might not feel up to taking part in their usual daily activities. In severe cases, some people
need to take drastic measures, such as changing jobs, changing hours, or forgoing work altogether.
It is not yet known to scientists and medical practitioners what causes the condition, however, due to its inflammatory nature, several IBS triggers have already been identified. Often times patients are able to monitor their diets in order to identify what triggers their own symptoms,
but not always. Scientific studies that exist regarding IBS suggest that the colon becomes hypersensitive and can overreact to mild stimulation.
Another theory suggests the cause may be related to the chemical makeup of the body. That’s where CBD comes in. The endocannabinoid system is linked to nerve signals between the digestive tract and brain. Since CBD is known for regulating the endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short, it is believed by some to be effective in treating
the various symptoms associated with IBS.
Why CBD for IBS Symptoms?
IBS can be difficult to treat due to the fact that everyone’s physiology is slightly different. While pharmaceutical medications for IBS do exist, they aren’t always effective, and can even come with a host of negative side effects. So much so, in fact, that some medical professionals have stated that if standard treatments are not effective in treating IBS symptoms in patients, CBD could be a viable option. The reason for this is because CBD is known to regulate the various physiological functions throughout the body via the ECS. According to one investigation, the regulation of the ECS in the gut by cannabinoids like CBD could be a useful therapeutic aid for some gastrointestinal diseases. In clinical studies of CBD, the natural cannabis compound has shown to be very effective in suppressing nausea
and promoting a healthy appetite.
CBD as an Anti-Inflammatory
CBD is widely recognized as a natural anti-inflammatory, and several symptoms of IBS have been linked to inflammation in the colon or gut. Gut inflammation is regulated by multiple processes. When a pathogen is ingested, it typically triggers an immune response within the gut to destroy it. Although this process is necessary, it can result in damage to the intestinal lining. Another response to gut inflammation occurs when the immune system is shut down via endocannabinoids present in the gut’s epithelial. This process uses an endocannabinoid that is naturally produced in the human body. That’s right, our body naturally produces cannabinoids, and has cannabinoid receptors designed to interact with cannabinoids like CBD. This is the reason why when patients with IBS use CBD, the endocannabinoids can help to relieve gut inflammation.
CBD for IBS Pain Regulation
As anyone who has experienced stomach issues can tell you, this kind of symptoms is very uncomfortable and often downright painful. Fortunately, CBD is widely recognized for its natural pain relieving properties. By relieving pain and reducing the symptoms of IBS, CBD
can give IBS sufferers their daily lives back. This is good news for patients, because at least when pain and IBS symptoms do flare up, and traditional medications have failed, CBD offers hope that they can do something about it. More research is needed to definitively prove this, but at least one review done by neurologist Ethan Russo in 2008 suggested that a possible cause of IBS is a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system. His findings establish a strong foundation for the idea that CBD, with its ECS regulating properties, may be a viable treatment option for people with IBS. CBD works by interacting with CB2 receptors found along the human digestive tract. CBD can help to alleviate spasms along this track, leading to intestinal regularity. This means that there is less spontaneous movement in the intestines which is believed to be the main cause of IBS by many in the medical and scientific community.
CBD Dosage for Inflammation & IBS
Determining the exact CBD dosage someone should use can be tricky. Since everyone is different, the required dosage varies from person to person depending on factors like weight, metabolism, and tolerance. Thankfully, finding the minimum required dose for yourself isn’t that complicated. Many people feel relief even with a low dose of CBD. Generally, it’s recommended for people to start with 2.5 mg of CBD two or three times a day. That’s roughly 6 to 10 mg total per day. Try this dose for a week, and if necessary increase it by 1 – 2 mg every two or three days until you receive the benefits that you need.
IBS patients and doctors alike have struggled for years trying to find a single, reliable treatment and/or cure for this severe condition. However, since IBS takes on different forms and causes are thought to be numerous as well, this endeavor has been challenging to say the least. Fortunately, the effects of CBD for irritable bowel syndrome that have been
documented are almost universally positive. Despite a lack of authoritative research, one can simply go online and check a reliable message board regarding the subject to see a mountain
of anecdotal evidence of people’s real-life experience on the subject. You will notice most of the comments are overwhelmingly positive, or curious about the subject because of the positive things they have heard. There are still legal hurdles to overcome in some areas regarding CBD due to its
association with marijuana, despite the fact that CBD does not get you high. However, as legislation surrounding the legality of CBD begins to ease, researchers will have an easier time conducting studies that could provide the concrete evidence needed for CBD to become a mainstream treatment for IBS in the future.