Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may not be a condition that makes it into general conversations a lot, but this condition is more common than most people think. The American College of Gastroenterology states that IBS may affect as much as 10 to 15 percent of the entire U.S. population.
IBS is characterized by painful, bothersome bouts of intestinal irritation. The symptoms can interfere with the ability to have a good quality of life, and the condition can be chronic. To date, most treatments for IBS are aimed at easing the symptoms because there is no known cure for the condition.
CBD (cannabidiol), a cannabinoid derived from hemp, has been pointed out as something that may help with IBS. However, formal research on CBD for IBS has not yet been established, even though the preliminary findings and anecdotal reports may be promising. Here is a closer look at CBD and IBS, the research currently established, and more for those with IBS who may be curious.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is common but highly diverse; every person diagnosed may have different symptoms, and the symptoms can be triggered by either food or stress. The most commonly reported symptoms of IBS include:
- Excess gas
- Pain or cramps in the abdominal area
- Sensitivities to certain foods
- Diarrhea (IBS-D)
- Constipation (IBS-C)
- Bouts of both constipation and diarrhea (IBS-M)
These symptoms can be related to other conditions as well, such as ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel disease, and Crohn’s disease. It is also worth noting that IBS sufferers usually have “flare-ups” or periods of time when their digestive tract seems to be more irritated and symptoms are more severe.
Usually, no precise cause can be pinpointed with IBS. However, a few risk factors for IBS include nervous system abnormalities, unusual intestinal muscle contractions, bacterial overgrowth in the digestive tract, and even stress during early childhood.
IBS can be notoriously difficult to treat through practical medicine because the exact cause may not be known. Some doctors will focus on symptom management through prescription medications and recommending dietary changes.
Can CBD Help with IBS?
So far, not enough formal research has been established on CBD for irritable bowel syndrome to make definitive statements. There have been a few small-scale studies that have offered hopeful results.
Before taking a look at how CBD has fared in the few studies available on CBD and IBS, looking at the more founded research is a good idea. The most well-documented ways to soothe IBS symptoms have involved:
- Following a low FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) diet
- Taking probiotics or fiber supplements
- Exercising or increasing physical activity
- Following a better sleep schedule
If you have tried the more tried-and-true methods to combat IBS symptoms and still have issues, it may be worth trying CBD oil for IBS as well. Or, trying CBD during periodic flare-ups for additional support may be worth a try. Here is a look at the current research that is available on CBD and IBS:
- CBD showed an association in reduced non-specified or gut pain in an observational study in 2019.
- CBD seemed beneficial for patients with ulcerative colitis by improving perceptions associated with the disease.
- Animal studies have shown that CBD may be valuable for aiding symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
- A 2019 study of PEA (Palmitoylethanolamide) and CBD seemed to lower inflammation and lower instances of leaky gut.
In 2020, a systematic review offered the conclusion that CBD and other non-intoxicating cannabinoids may help with certain gastrointestinal disorders like IBS. However, it was also stated that more research needs to be established.
CBD, the Endocannabinoid System, and the Digestive System
The human body is made up of a number of systems that keep it functional, but one particular system has an affinity for cannabinoids: the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The body generates its own endocannabinoids that interact with cannabinoid receptors in the ECS. Phytocannabinoids (plant-derived cannabinoids) like CBD are molecularly similar to the same cannabinoids produced by the body.
The multitude of receptors that make up the ECS is widely dispersed throughout the body. These receptors that react to cannabinoids can be found in the brain, in your peripheral nervous system, in your immune system, and, most important to note, in your digestive system. It is speculated that the ECS may play a role in everything from how inflammation is produced to how the body responds to stress.
In short, when cannabinoids are introduced to the body, they are transported on a cellular level to where they need to go, and then the fatty acids of the ECS break down these molecules and use them as needed. Research has shown that different cannabinoids interact in unique ways with the ECS.
The Unique Qualities of CBD That May Be Important for People with IBS
Even though specific studies on CBD for IBS may be lacking, several researchers have examined the potential therapeutic qualities of CBD. To date, CBD has been found to have anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, sleep-supporting properties, to name a few. While research does not exist to establish the ideas as fact, it is easy to speculate that CBD for IBS or similar problems may be logical.
For example, research has established that people with IBS can benefit from a good sleep schedule. Therefore, taking CBD to help aid in better sleep may have the secondary benefit of helping with IBS symptoms. Similarly, stress and anxiety can be flare-up triggers for people who have IBS. Since CBD seems to help induce calmness, the cannabinoid may indirectly benefit IBS symptoms. Of course, without science to back up the speculation, CBD for IBS should be something approached with realistic expectations.
How to Find the Best CBD Oil for IBS
While there is no concrete evidence that CBD for irritable bowel syndrome will definitely help, if you do want to try CBD, you will want the best product. Let’s look at some attributes to look for in the best CBD products to ensure you have the best chance of having a positive experience.
Opt for Full-Spectrum CBD
Some research has shown that cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant may work together synergistically in what is called the entourage effect. This well-supported idea means that opting for a full-spectrum CBD oil like fabuleaf Full Spectrum Hemp Flower CBD Oil may give you a better experience. Full-spectrum CBD contains the full list of cannabinoids and terpenes, including a fractional amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Choose Ingestible CBD Over Topical CBD
CBD is available in a number of forms, including as a topical CBD cream like ours at fabuleaf. While topicals can be beneficial for more localized issues, if you are using CBD for IBS, it may be best to go with an ingestible product. For example, CBD softgels or CBD oil will have to be processed by the digestive system when swallowed, which may offer the most support for the system.
Look for Lab-Tested CBD Products
Be sure to look for a certificate of analysis (COA) or CBD lab report on any given product. These reports are done by third-party labs to test the purity, potency, and cannabinoid content of the product. By law, CBD products should contain less than 0.3 percent THC, which is the intoxicating cannabinoid found in plants from the cannabis family. The COA will show you exactly how much THC is in any full-spectrum product.
How Much CBD to Take with IBS Symptoms
Because CBD has not been established as a way to treat IBS, there is no dosage recommendation available to follow. The general recommendation for every CBD user, regardless of why they are taking the cannabinoid, is to start out with a lower dose of CBD and adjust as needed. For example, you may want to try starting with 5 to 15 mg of CBD, monitoring for the outcome or effects, and then adjust the dose in small increments until you see the most desired effects.
The Bottom Line on CBD for IBS
With CBD gaining so much interest from the medical community and consumers, the future of this cannabinoid is bound to be interesting. CBD may not be firmly established as something that can help with IBS, but the cannabinoid may be worthy of a try for some people. Hopefully, as scientific studies into CBD for IBS come to fruition, we will all know more about the idea.
In the meantime, if you would like to try a full-spectrum, hemp-derived CBD product, be sure to take a look at our collection at fabuleaf. Each of our CBD products, including CBD oil, CBD softgels, and CBD cream, are created with a full-spectrum of cannabinoids and have a published COA for record of quality.
Thanks for joining us for today’s article! We hope that it helped provide some valuable insights into the potential of CBD for IBS.
If you have any questions or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave us a message in the comments.
The information contained in this article is not intended to serve as a substitute for advice or guidance from a certified doctor or health professional. Before trying Cannabidiol (CBD) or purchasing any CBD product, you should always conduct your own research and consult with your doctor. While Cannabidiol (CBD) is classified as “generally well tolerated with a good safely profile” by the World Health Organization (WHO), more research is needed in order to fully evaluate the safety and effectiveness of CBD on a personalized basis.
fabuleaf™ products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.