CBD Gummies For Ibs

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Have you considered trying marijuana to ease your IBS symptoms? Learn all about the safety, effectiveness, and legality of medical marijuana for IBS. Best Way to Take CBD Oil for IBS IBS is an uncomfortable condition that affects around 35 million people in the United States. Since many conventional treatments for IBS cause significant side

Medical Marijuana and IBS Relief

Barbara Bolen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and health coach. She has written multiple books focused on living with irritable bowel syndrome.

Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Robert Burakoff, MD, MPH, is board-certified in gastroentrology. He is the vice chair for ambulatory services for the department of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, where he is also a professor. He was the founding editor and co-editor in chief of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

With many U.S. states passing laws that legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, you may be wondering if medical marijuana would be a helpful treatment option for your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Learn about the potential benefits and risks of marijuana and what is known about its usefulness in addressing the symptoms of IBS.

Medical Marijuana

Marijuana itself is typically a mixture of the dried leaves and flowers (and less typically the seeds and stems) of Cannabis sativa, also known as the hemp plant. Its effect on the body is primarily due to a cannabinoid chemical called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which creates its mind-altering effects.

People have used marijuana for centuries in order to feel high, as part of a spiritual practice, or to ease symptoms of pain, nausea, and vomiting. Its use for medicinal purposes is controversial and remains a matter of great debate among users, scientists, and governing bodies.

The term “medical marijuana” was coined to describe the use of the Cannabis plant, either in whole or extract form, to treat symptoms or diseases.

Medical Marijuana and IBS Relief

It might be interesting to learn that we have cannabinoid chemicals within our bodies as part of our endocannabinoid system. The system is not perfectly understood, but we know that it consists of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoid chemicals.

The receptors are located all throughout our central and peripheral nervous systems, and a large number of them are also located within our digestive system, which has led scientists to investigate ways to use them to help with conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and peptic ulcer disease.

The first researcher to make a connection between marijuana and IBS was Ethan B. Russo who, in 2003, theorized that IBS and other health conditions were the results of a deficiency in the amount of the body’s own cannabinoid chemicals.

As support for his theory, he pointed to the fact that IBS is frequently seen alongside fibromyalgia and migraine headaches, two health conditions that Russo also theorized might involve the endocannabinoid system of the body.

Further research has lent some support to Russo’s theories. Research on animals, for example, has shown that endocannabinoids affect gut motility and visceral hypersensitivity, both of which are factors that have long been highlighted as contributing to the pain, bloat, feelings of fullness, and bathroom problems associated with IBS.

Endocannabinoids also protect the digestive system from inflammation and stomach acids. This line of inquiry thus seems to lead naturally into the question of whether medical marijuana might be an effective treatment for IBS symptoms.

As of now, there do not seem to be many research studies on the use of smoked marijuana for IBS. From the few randomized controlled trials that do exist, one theory is that cannabinoids in marijuana affect acetylcholine and opioid receptors in addition to cannabis receptors, in this way providing IBS symptom improvement.

Other studies suggest that those with diarrhea-predominate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D) and alternating IBS may benefit from Marinol (dronabinol), (a type of cannabinoid often used with cancer patients) because it decreases gut transit and increases colon compliance.

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As for the prescription forms of medical marijuana, a few studies have looked at the effectiveness of Marinol, a synthetic form of THC. Results have not been overwhelmingly positive. Although there was some limited evidence that the medication reduces large intestine contractions, results on pain relief have been mixed.

However, due to the fact that the endogenous cannabinoid system is involved in so many digestive system symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, ulcers, reflux, and diarrhea, it is thought that further development of pharmaceutical medications targeting the endocannabinoid system of the body is certainly warranted.

Medical Marijuana and Getting High

Depending on the strain that is used, you might get a feeling of being “high.” In addition, you may experience feelings of having sensations feel altered, your mood may change, your thinking skills (judgment, problem-solving, memory) may be impaired, and you may experience diminished control over your muscles.

It is the THC in marijuana that causes all of these central nervous system changes. Another component of marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), offers symptom relief but without causing brain and motor functioning changes.

Medications or strains of medical marijuana that are high in CBD but low in THC will not cause you to experience “high” sensations.

For medicinal effects, non-prescription forms of marijuana are best smoked or vaporized. Vaporizing reduces the risk of damage to the lungs that can occur with smoking.

And although therapeutic benefits are slower to occur and may be lessened, marijuana can also be consumed through edibles, including cookies, brownies, lollipops, and teas. For optimal effects and safety, prescription medical marijuana may be the best option.

Risks of Marijuana Use

Although proponents of marijuana argue that it can be used safely, it is not without risks. This does not mean that all people who use medical marijuana will experience these problems. But risks are heightened for people who are older or for those who are suffering from an illness that affects the immune system.

These risks are also heightened in street forms of the drug, due to a lack of purity. And your susceptibility to these risks is also increased with the heavier use of the drug.

The potential negative effects of marijuana, whether in a plant or synthetic form, include the following:

  • Addiction or dependence
  • Interference with normal brain development
  • Lung damage (when smoked)
  • Cognitive problems, with negative effects on judgment, concentration, memory, and balance
  • Increased risk of testicular cancer (when smoked)
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Birth defects (when used by a woman who is pregnant)
  • Mental health problems
  • Seizures

Many of these potential negative effects hold true for the synthetic forms of medical marijuana.

Severe side effects associated with the use of prescription medical marijuana medications include an increased risk of seizures, hallucinations, arrhythmias, and tachycardia.

Contraindications

If any of the following applies to you, you should not use marijuana for any reason, medical or otherwise:

  • You are not yet age 25 or older—due to concerns about your brain development.
  • Have a current or history of a substance abuse disorder, including addiction or dependence on marijuana
  • If you or any member of your family has a history of a psychotic psychiatric disorder
  • If you are pregnant, planning on getting pregnant, or breastfeeding an infant
  • You have heart disease
  • You have any kind of a lung disease

Complicated Legalities

As of this writing, the federal government considers marijuana use in any form to be illegal. However, a number of states have either made the use of recreational or medical marijuana legal.

In states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana, there are often restrictions on the amount allowed and the conditions for which it can be used. Here are some resources:

Where It Stands

Having IBS can be a very frustrating experience as its symptoms can be quite difficult to get under control. And although there are some prescription medications for the disorder and its symptoms, the relief from these treatments is often incomplete and unsatisfying. This unfortunate state of affairs has led people who have IBS to seek alternative remedies, one of which is the use of marijuana.

The use of marijuana as a viable treatment for IBS has not yet been supported by research. The uses of prescription forms of medical marijuana have neither been shown to have clear benefits for IBS nor have they been approved by the FDA for use as a treatment for IBS.

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The last factor to consider is the legality of medical marijuana for IBS as most, if not all, state laws have not yet necessarily included IBS as a specified allowed condition.

A Word From Verywell

The good news is that there does appear to be a connection between the endocannabinoid system and its receptors and digestive symptoms. This suggests that the potential exists for a pharmaceutical medication that targets these receptors may provide relief from IBS symptoms.

As pharmaceutical companies are now seeing the potential profits of effective IBS medications, due to the sheer number of people who have the disorder, there is hope that they will focus their research efforts on the development of medications that target the endocannabinoid system and that are proved to be effective for IBS.

It’s also important to note that ongoing research may discover other useful components of marijuana, apart from THC. The chemical complexity of marijuana may also be why the few studies on its benefit for IBS have returned mixed results.

The bottom line is that more research is needed which will clarify the role of cannabis as a treatment for IBS, and what dosages could help with digestive issues. In the meantime, your best course of action is to work with your healthcare provider on a symptom management plan that is right for you.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Marijuana as medicine.

Bashashati M, McCallum R. Cannabis in gastrointestinal disorders. Practical Gastroenterology. 2014;38(12).

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Marijuana.

By Barbara Bolen, PhD
Barbara Bolen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and health coach. She has written multiple books focused on living with irritable bowel syndrome.

Best Way to Take CBD Oil for IBS

IBS is an uncomfortable condition that affects around 35 million people in the United States. Since many conventional treatments for IBS cause significant side effects, people who suffer from the symptoms of IBS are on the hunt for alternative treatments. In this guide, learn if CBD works for IBS, and find out the best ways to take this cannabinoid if you’re suffering from IBS symptoms.

Does CBD help IBS?

Over the last decade or so, research into CBD has accelerated at an unprecedented pace, and scientists have realized that CBD may help with a wide variety of serious conditions. While there is no definitive answer regarding whether CBD can help with IBS, a significant amount of research has been invested into this subject, and scientists continue to investigate the potential benefits of CBD when it comes to inflammatory conditions like IBS.

What’s clear is that CBD, as a derivative of the hemp plant, does not have intoxicating properties, making this cannabinoid very different from THC, which is an intoxicating and addictive substance found in the cannabis plant. Therefore, IBS patients can try CBD without worrying about intoxication or any other significant adverse effects.

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an inflammatory condition that affects the colon (large intestine). The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are diarrhea and constipation, but other symptoms associated with IBS include abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, and gas. As one of the most uncomfortable conditions that can affect the digestive tract, people with IBS are constantly searching for safe, natural forms of IBS relief.

How does CBD Oil Work?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that does not significantly stimulate the CB1 and CB2 receptors. These cannabinoid receptors cause the feeling of intoxication that accompanies THC use, and even though full-spectrum CBD can contain up to 0.3% THC, that’s not enough to activate your CB2 or CB1 receptors.

At the same time, CBD has a profound effect on the human endocannabinoid system, which manages a variety of essential bodily processes including digestion. Some researchers believe that endocannabinoid deficiency could be one of the primary causes of both physical and mental health conditions, suggesting that taking CBD oil could offer a wide range of beneficial effects.

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What research says about CBD for IBS

As an inflammatory disease that affects the digestive system, IBS is a prime target of natural therapies that provide anti-inflammatory benefits within the digestive tract. While we cannot provide medical advice or make claims regarding the usefulness of taking CBD for any condition, we can still examine the evidence that has been accumulated regarding the use of CBD in treating IBS.

Research into CBD for Inflammation

CBD has been researched extensively for its potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists are keenly interested in determining the potential usefulness of CBD in relieving chronic inflammatory pain and the symptoms of inflammatory conditions like IBS.

Research into CBD for Gastrointestinal Conditions

Researchers have examined the potential usefulness of CBD as a natural modulator of your gut’s mucosal defense system, which plays a critical role in preventing the symptoms of IBS. Current research into the effects of CBD on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is highly limited, but early results have been promising.

How much CBD oil should I take for IBS?

Different CBD oils contain different amounts of CBD, and each CBD ingestion method affects your body differently. If you decide to use CBD for IBS, however, you may want to start with a standard dose of 10-20 milligrams taken orally per day. In clinical studies, CBD doses as high as 1,500mg tincture which is 50mg of CBD per day have been shown to be well-tolerated in human subjects, but if you’d prefer to use CBD products as sparingly as possible, even a low dose might provide the beneficial effects you’re looking for.

How should I take CBD oil for the best results?

There are quite a few different ways you can take CBD, and some might be more effective for IBS than others:

CBD tinctures for IBS

As orally ingested CBD products, CBD tinctures deliver this cannabinoid directly into your digestive tract. Along the way, however, the CBD in your tincture will also be absorbed under your tongue, potentially limiting the amount of CBD that reaches your digestive system.

CBD capsules for IBS

CBD capsules pass down your esophagus before releasing CBD into your stomach. As a result, capsules might deliver CBD into your digestive tract more efficiently than other ingestion methods.

CBD edibles for IBS

CBD edibles are tasty and convenient, but a lot of the CBD they contain is absorbed into the lining of your mouth as you chew. IBS sufferers might be better off choosing CBD capsules instead.

CBD topicals for IBS

Water-based CBD topicals penetrate your skin and spread CBD throughout underlying tissues. However, topically applied CBD might not penetrate deeply enough to deliver significant concentrations of this cannabinoid into your digestive tract.

Can you rub CBD oil on your stomach?

When you experience abdominal pain due to irritable bowel syndrome, it’s only natural to try addressing the symptoms of this condition at their source. Oil-based CBD products, however, offer very poor skin penetration, so applying CBD oil directly to your stomach is unlikely to provide the results you desire. Use a water-based CBD topical formulation instead, or use an orally ingested CBD product that delivers this cannabinoid directly into your digestive tract.

Using CBD for IBS: The Bottom Line

There isn’t enough evidence to definitively determine whether CBD might help relieve the symptoms of IBS. What’s clear, however, is that every form of CBD is non-intoxicating and remarkably non-toxic, so there’s no reason you should avoid using CBD products as you pursue weight loss and make other lifestyle changes that might help manage IBS. Anyone who has this condition would prefer to treat IBS naturally, and IBS sufferers have nothing to lose by trying CBD oil for this uncomfortable and inconvenient condition.

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