Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a long term functional bowel disorder characterized by irregular bowel habits, bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort.
Long bouts of constipation and/or unpredictable diarrhea are common outcomes of this condition. Obviously, this can significantly impact the life quality of the affected individual. The real factors behind IBS are unknown, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetics, as well as the adverse psychosomatic effects of stress, depression and anxiety, and poor dietary habits in some cases.
Shockingly, as many as 45 million people in the United States are affected by IBS and it is more common in females. Thus, there is a huge demand for products that may provide IBS relief.
In this overview, we will focus on a potential natural remedy – CBD oil for IBS.
Cannabinoid (CBD) oil used as a dietary supplement has become extremely popular owing to its ability to alleviate a wide range of health issues including insomnia, social anxiety, pain, inflammation, depression, epilepsy and diabetes.
Furthermore, it appears to curb appetite in overweight people and maintain human body’s homeostasis, although further clinical studies are required to confirm this unequivocally.
However, let us solely focus on IBS and examine the current evidence and research regarding the potential of CBD oil for IBS treatment.
Is CBD oil effective in alleviating IBS symptoms?
Is it a scam, a marketing gimmick or a legitimate potential solution for an often debilitating condition that negatively impacts every aspect of sufferers’ lives?
Table of Contents
- 1 Why I Tried CBD oil For IBS?
- 2 How does CBD oil interact with the Human Body?
Why I Tried CBD oil For IBS?
Having been affected by IBS with constipation (IBS-C) since April 2014, I needed a solution for what was becoming a debilitating condition resulting in an agonizing lifestyle.
My physical activity has reduced significantly due to the prolonged bouts of constipation. I generally had a healthy well-balanced high protein diet with sweets in moderation and have been a fitness enthusiast since 2011.
However, I found myself desperate and unable to lift weights and perform high intensity cardio regularly as I felt 7-months pregnant most of the time!
This also affected me professionally as I was attending job interviews at that time while feeling miserable, heavy, sluggish and full of unhealthy residual toxins that were piling up in my colon!
The next two and a half years were living hell, until I finally managed to restore regular bowel habits by September 2016.
I attempted everything, from probiotics and dietary changes, colon transit tests, osmotic and stimulant laxatives, and drinking over a gallon of water per day to invasive procedures such as hydrocolon therapies, irigography and colonoscopy.
Nothing worked whatsoever and I still experienced bouts of constipation that lasted multiple weeks at a time and were only successfully interrupted by heavy laxative usage.
Even appointments with renowned gastroenterology specialists in two different countries did not help the matter.
Traditional medicine did not have the answers I was looking for.
Then, one day, I accidentally heard about CBD oil and its peculiar yet fascinating effects on insomnia, anxiety and depression. By now I was already extremely well educated on the subject of IBS-C and I thought CBD might be worth a try.
After consulting with my primary gastroenterology specialist we decided to give CBD oil a try – after all it is completely safe and has no side effects so there was nothing to lose and everything to gain!
The rest is history!
CBD oil for IBS-C treatment has been a miracle in my case and it helped me regain a normal lifestyle. I have been back to full functionality and gastrointestinal health for the last few years – socializing, dating, lifting weights, running, and generally feeling great!
How does CBD oil interact with the Human Body?
CBD is one of the best known cannabinoids and, as such, interacts directly with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) which is a biological system found in the human brain and throughout the body. ECS includes endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoids can be created inside our bodies naturally, whereas phytocannabinoids are found in plants.
Cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabinol (CBN) are three of the most studied compounds to date, even though at least 113 cannabinoids have been identified in cannabis.
The discovery of the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors back in the early 90s has led to the establishment of the ECS. The ECS itself is responsible for keeping the human body in homeostasis and regulating crucial bodily functions.
In particular, CB1 receptors are found primarily in the brain and thus associated with memory processing, mood, sleep, and appetite.
On the other hand, the vast majority of CB2 receptors are distributed in the immune system. The majority of these receptors are located in the digestive tract and correlated with pain and inflammation.
So you might wonder – what does any of this have to do with alleviating terrible IBS symptoms?!
It is incredibly simple, even though IBS is a complex functional digestive disorder. Besides the evident symptoms such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea, impaired functionality such as reduced gut motility, hypersensitivity, and altered mood are hidden in the background.
Scientists have suggested that there is evidence that the misbalance of the ECS may play a role in gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS. However, this hypothesis will have to be further examined by the IBS scientific community.
For now, we know that cannabinoids may be able to treat different disorders and diseases by targeting the ECS. Further clinical studies will be required for solid evidence when it comes to IBS, but CBD oil may help maintain the ECS in balance in a natural and safe manner.
Fortunately, CBD has been shown to be nearly completely free of side effects for daily doses as high as 1500 mg. As with any other diet and lifestyle changes that IBS requires, the trial and error process is absolutely essential as what works for one individual might not work for the next.
Thus, adding CBD oil as a dietary supplement may assist and there is already evidence from different reviews, available through a basic Google search, that consumers with IBS related gut motility issues in particular may react very positively to CBD oil.
A single reliable fix is difficult to identify when it comes to IBS, but CBD oil for IBS has been working for so many people.
And as mentioned before, I am a living testimony of its potential efficacy!
Summary of potential positive effects of CBD oil for IBS
We have already discussed the importance and the potential impact of cannabinoids on the ECS.
Further positive effects of CBD oil on IBS symptoms are as follows:
- Reduces the frequency of colon spasms
- Promotes healthy appetite by suppressing nausea
- Alleviates abdominal pains and aches
- Regulates intestinal motility
Let us quickly dive into each one of these and explain them briefly.
Firstly, CBD interacts with the CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the gastrointestinal tract causing relaxation which, in turn, leads to a reduced frequency of colon’s spasmodic episodes and reduced discomfort and gastrointestinal distress.
Secondly, IBS tends to affect sufferers’ appetite by making them nauseated. This happens often with IBS-C and results in a loss of appetite which returns after a satisfactory bowel movement is finally achieved.
However, IBS sufferers start overeating after a period of low food intake and the risk of an IBS flare up increases yet again due to the large volume of food consumption. It is a feedback loop from hell!
Studies have shown that CBD oil suppresses nausea, thus resulting in a healthy appetite and overall homeostasis.
Thirdly, research has demonstrated that CBD may alleviate pains, aches, and even inflammation.
While it should be noted that IBS does not inherently cause inflammation unlike the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), neutralizing pains and aches is especially helpful when it comes to fighting IBS – an extremely uncomfortable condition that may be debilitating for many patients.
Finally, while IBS may be caused by a wide variety of issues and traditional medicine does not fully understand the underlying factors, anxiety and stress are known to be a potential factor.
Anxiety and stress are known to trigger an overexpression of acetylcholine in the vagus nerve which often leads to motility disturbances. For example, hypermotility causes excessive diarrhea, loss of fluids, poor digestion and impaired nutrient absorption.
The effectiveness of CBD oil for anxiety and stress has already been demonstrated and the resulting relaxation acts to regulate the intestinal motility and prevent IBS related diarrhea or constipation flare ups.
What does deeper scientific research say?
Over a decade ago, a research study was published in 2006 in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation indicating that the ECS system may represent a promising therapeutic target against different gastrointestinal disorders including functional bowel diseases such as IBS.
Exactly a decade later, a recent study published by Ethan Russo in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2016, further reemphasizes his findings presented in his review paper from 2008 that suggested that IBS may be caused by a clinical endocannabinoid deficiency.
Russo argues that this theory was first proposed all the way back in 2001, but objective proof and clinical trial data were lacking.
This strongly suggests that the body moves out of homeostasis and that the natural cannabinoid production within the body starts malfunctioning under certain circumstances such as increased anxiety and stress.
However, Russo’s 2016 paper claims that the latest advanced imaging studies have demonstrated ECS hypofunction (meaning decreased or insufficient function) in post-traumatic stress disorder.
Additional studies have provided a stronger foundation for the theory of endocannabinoid deficiency, while clinical data demonstrated evidence for decreased pain, improved sleep, and other benefits of cannabinoid treatment.
How much CBD oil should you take for IBS?
The best way to take CBD oil for IBS is to start off with a minimal dose of say 10 mg per day and gradually increase the dosage as necessary until positive effects are noticeable.
Patience is essential and every individual is different – someone may require only 10 mg daily, while others may find that there are no effects until a high dose is utilized (or even no effects regardless of the dosage).
Always consult your physician, and never consume CBD if you are under the age of 18 or pregnant.
CBD oil has helped me significantly in overcoming IBS-C. However, it is not a definitive cure for IBS and further clinical studies will undoubtedly shed more light on CBD’s effects on IBS.
While trial and error is an essential part of the IBS healing process, CBD oil has minimal to no side effects and has been tested even for high daily doses.
Thus, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose! Why not give it a try?
If you have already consulted with your doctor and decided to order CBD oil for IBS treatment, it is paramount that you look for reputable brands (hyperlink Plus CBD oil or similar) and avoid shady products that are definitely out there!
The following guideline will help you identify high quality CBD oil products and should keep you on the safe side!
The only CBD oil products that you should consider buying are generally characterized by the following:
- money-back guarantee, usually 30 days
- independent 3rd party testing to confirm high quality
- non-chemical CO2 extraction from agricultural hemp
- full-spectrum tincture rather than CBD isolate
- clearly stated serving size
- hemp plant sourcing information (FDA-compliant farming, or a reputable firm from the European Union)
- Always Read the CBD Brand Reviews online before buying.