CBD (cannabidiol) in the form of oil, gel, and capsules has been touted as the new cure-all for everything from migraines and chronic pain to seizures. But when it comes to using CBD for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), very little is known. With up to 1 in 10 people worldwide experiencing IBS, there is growing interest to see if CBD could be a new tool to relieve symptoms. CBD’s powerful anti-inflammatory effects may help people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. Read on to learn how CBD relieves symptoms of 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
CBD for IBS: Your Questions Answered
CBD (cannabidiol) in the form of oil, gel, and capsules has been touted as the new cure-all for everything from migraines and chronic pain to seizures. But when it comes to using CBD for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), very little is known. With up to 1 in 10 people worldwide experiencing IBS, there is growing interest to see if CBD could be a new tool to relieve symptoms.
Your CBD dictionary
There are a lot of words used in this space that sound the same, or are used interchangeably. So before we get started, let’s all get on the same page:
- Cannabis: Cannabis sativa is the plant CBD is sourced from.
- Marijuana: Another name for cannabis, more commonly used when talking about recreational use.
- Hemp: A strain of cannabis that is often used in medicine, clothing or building materials. It usually has lower levels of THC, which means it won’t produce a ‘high’.
- Medicinal cannabis/marijuana: Cannabis that is grown for the purpose of medicinal use. It usually has lower levels of THC. May also be called hemp.
- Phytocannabinoids: Compounds found in the cannabis plant.
- CBD:Cannabidiol is one of 113 phytocannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Has potential medicinal applications and does not produce a ‘high’.
- THC:Tetrahydrocannabinol is another of the phytocannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Produces a ‘high’.
What is CBD?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, comes from marijuana, but it shouldn’t be confused as the same thing.
The marijuana plant (or cannabis) is made up of hundreds of different compounds. Over 100 of these are phytocannabinoids. CBD is one of them.
In recent years, there has been an increase in research into CBD for medical purposes as it has been shown to have anti-epileptic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-psychotic properties.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is another compound found in marijuana. This is the compound that gives the ‘high’ sensation when it’s consumed.
Unlike THC, CBD will not make you ‘high’.
How is CBD consumed?
CBD is most commonly taken in oil form, with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil. You can take it straight, by holding some drops under your tongue, or you can mix it in with food and drink. You can also take CBD as a gummy, spray, capsule, or topical rub or balm.
Can CBD help my IBS?
Cannabis has been used to help manage a number of gastrointestinal (GI) conditions such as abdominal pain, anorexia, inflammatory diarrhea, and diabetic gastroparesis. However, the psychotropic effects of THC limit its use in practice.
For this reason, CBD is more clinically useful since it provides similar benefits without the ‘high’.
CBD has shown promising results for a variety of medical conditions including chronic pain, insomnia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, and side effects of chemotherapy. It is currently being investigated as a possible treatment for IBS.
It is thought that CBD may help ‘re-calibrate’ the communication between the gut and the brain. However, more research is needed to clarify the role of CBD for IBS.
CBD for IBS: Benefits, Dosage, & How to Use It?
Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a chronic inflammatory condition of the digestive tract. This causes stomach ache, painful abdominal cramping, constipation or diarrhea, urgent bowel movements, and bloating of the stomach. Triggers like stress, eating certain foods, and even hormonal changes make the symptoms worse.
While we lack specific studies focusing on CBD and IBS, many people find that CBD helps control their symptoms. Not only is CBD safe to take daily, but it also helps maintain a healthier gut.
In this article, we’ll discuss different ways CBD helps relieve IBS symptoms. We’ll also cover how to use CBD and get the best dosage for your IBS.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome often gets confused with inflammatory bowel disease. While both conditions share many similar symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome is inflammation of the digestive tract, while inflammatory bowel disease is inflammation of the bowel walls.
The exact cause of IBS remains unknown, but a family history of IBS increases your risk of developing this chronic health problem. Several factors also worsen the condition. These include food, illness, stress, depression, anxiety, hormonal changes, etc.
Left untreated, IBS can cause extreme fatigue and tiredness, worsening mental health problems, heartburn, and indigestion.
How is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treated?
IBS has no known cure, and no drug can fully control the disease. We only have medications that provide symptom relief. These include fiber supplements and laxatives for constipation as well as antidiarrheal medications.
Analgesics and anticholinergic drugs may also be given for painful spasms of the gut. For anxiety and depression, anxiolytics and antidepressants may be prescribed.
Change in diet also helps, so know your food triggers and avoid them. We also recommend getting enough sleep and going on a regular exercise program.
With CBD’s increasing popularity as an anti-inflammatory agent, many people add CBD to their health regimen. They find that it helps them deal with the symptoms and improve their quality of life.
How can CBD control your IBS symptoms, and how do you use CBD for IBS?
The Endocannabinoid System and Your Digestive System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays an active role in your digestive system and helps regulate many of its functions . The ECS helps modulate gut motility as well as gut permeability. It also influences hunger signaling and interacts with the gut’s normal microbiota.
When there’s a noxious stimulus like an illness or consuming something toxic, the gut cells release endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) that bind to the cannabinoid receptors of other gut cells.
Activation of the type 1 cannabinoid receptor slows down peristalsis. This series of involuntary gut muscle contractions move food from the esophagus down to the small intestine. The type 1 cannabinoid receptor also reduces the secretion of gastric acid. All these allow better absorption of food.
Activation of the type 2 cannabinoid receptor, on the other hand, influences the immune cells found in the gut.
Endocannabinoids offer many therapeutic effects, but unfortunately, their effects don’t last long. They’re easily degraded by enzymes and quickly reabsorbed back into the cells.
Chronic gut problems also affect the health of your ECS, resulting in ECS dysregulation. ECS dysregulation, in turn, worsens many intestinal problems, including IBS .
How Does CBD for IBS Help Improve Symptoms?
CBD doesn’t directly activate the type 1 cannabinoid receptor but stimulates other receptors responsible for symptom control. CBD directly binds to the type 2 cannabinoid receptor found on the immune cells, activating it to produce anti-inflammatory effects.
Below are some of the beneficial effects of CBD for IBS.
CBD and Gut Pain
People suffering from IBS often complain of abdominal pain. This is sometimes triggered by food and relieved by a bowel movement. The abdominal pain may also cause painful bloating of the stomach.
CBD acts on several receptors responsible for modulating pain sensation. These include the vanilloid, glycine, serotonin, and adenosine receptors. When CBD activates these biological systems, they “tell” the cells to stop releasing pain-generating chemicals .
CBD stimulates not just the pain receptors on the gut cells but also on the brain cells.
CBD and Gut Inflammation
Inflammation serves as the body’s primary defense. Once it detects the presence of bacteria, toxins, or illness, for example, it sends immune cells to the area. The immune cells then engulf the attackers and the cellular debris they cause.
Unfortunately, the constant bombardment of noxious stimuli worsens inflammation. Inflammation gets deteriorated by the immune cells releasing chemicals that signal more immune cells to the area. All these results in chronic, low-grade inflammation of the gut, which, of course, makes IBS symptoms worse.
CBD acts as a potent anti-inflammatory agent in the gut and its inner lining. It binds to the type 2 cannabinoid receptors on the immune cells and triggers a cascade of chemical signals. This effect stops immune cells from releasing pro-inflammatory compounds and also induces the death of the abnormal immune cells .
CBD also targets other receptors that control inflammation, such as PPARy, serotonin, vanilloid, GPR55, and adenosine receptors .
Due to its remarkable anti-inflammatory properties, researchers analyzed the potential benefit of CBD in treating ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and IBS,
CBD and Gut Motility
IBS affects gut motility. The abnormal gut contractions may result in constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of the two. It also causes stomach cramping with painful bloating.
In normal situations, CBD only produces a weak inhibitory effect on gut motility. However, CBD shows a modulatory effect when gut motility is abnormal and helps normalize constipation or diarrhea gut motility.
Again, CBD produces these effects through non-cannabinoid receptors.
CBD and Anxiety and Depression
People with IBS have a high risk of developing mental health problems like anxiety and depression . While mental health problems don’t cause IBS, they can aggravate IBS symptoms since they increase the brain cell’s sensitivity to pain.
CBD produces antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects through its stimulation of the serotonin receptor . It also helps maintain the balance between the neurotransmitter levels in the brain, an imbalance of which may result in anxiety and depression.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
As mentioned earlier, ECS dysregulation contributes to the worsening of IBS symptoms.
Now, CBD promotes a healthier ECS. Not only does CBD stimulate the ECS, but it also allows the endocannabinoids to stay longer in the system.
Studies found that CBD actively competes with the endocannabinoids in binding to the enzymes. With more CBD attaching to the enzymes, the endocannabinoids stay longer in the body and produce more health benefits .
How to Use CBD for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Most CBD products tell you to take a full dropper for your IBS symptoms daily, but because we’re all built differently, this dose may either be too high or too low for you. Either way, incorrect CBD dosage prevents you from enjoying the full therapeutic effects of CBD.
The rule of thumb when finding the right CBD dosage is to use:
- 1 mg of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight for low-strength dose (mild symptoms and general health)
- 3 mg of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight for medium-strength dose (moderate symptoms)
- 6 mg of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight for high-strength dose (severe symptoms)
Let’s say, for example, that you weigh 150 pounds and are experiencing severe IBS symptoms, and then you’ll need at least 90 mg of CBD.
To know how much CBD is in one full dropper, you have to divide the total milligrams of CBD by the size of the bottle.
If you bought an extra-strength CBD oil at 3000 mg of CBD in a 15 mL bottle, then divide 3000 by 15, and you’ll get 200. This means that one full dropper gives you about 200 mg of CBD. Because one full dropper contains about 20 drops, each drop gives you about 10 mg of CBD. For your severe IBS symptoms, you’ll need nine drops of CBD oil.
If you developed some adverse side effects on your first dose, reduce the amount when taking your CBD oil next. However, if you didn’t feel anything on your initial dose, we suggest staying on it for at least three to five days before increasing the dose.
Remember, our bodies respond differently to CBD. Some may feel immediate effects, while others may not, so let your body get used to CBD first before adjusting the dose.
Take notes of your body’s reaction to CBD as well. List down the CBD dose, the time you took the oil, the effects, etc. This will help you find the right CBD dose.
The best thing about the trial-and-error approach is that you’re given the freedom to find the best CBD dose that relieves your IBS symptoms.
How to Choose Your CBD Product
The CBD market offers hundreds of CBD brands, so to help you reach an informed decision, please consider these factors: types of CBD, forms of CBD, quality of the CBD products.
Types of CBD
The types of CBD include pure, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum CBD products.
As the name implies, pure CBD only has CBD isolate. It contains no extra ingredients. Broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD, on the other hand, not only contain CBD but extra cannabinoids as well. They also contain essential terpenes that boost the effects of cannabinoids. What sets the two apart, though, is that full-spectrum CBD also has THC.
Hemp-derived CBD has a THC level of no more than 0.3% and is available to everyone even without a doctor’s recommendation. Marijuana-derived CBD, on the other hand, typically has a higher THC level and may only be available in states that legalized marijuana. Before buying marijuana-derived CBD, know your state’s CBD laws to avoid problems.
What’s better among the three types then?
They all help relieve IBS symptoms. However, the addition of THC in full-spectrum CBD makes it stronger and more effective in controlling symptoms. THC boosts the effects of both the cannabinoids and terpenes — it’s a phenomenon called the entourage effect.
Forms of CBD
The most common forms of CBD products include CBD oils, tinctures, edibles (gummies, candies, bars, brownies), capsules, vape oils, concentrates, flowers, and even suppositories. Suppositories deliver CBD closest to the digestive tract so that they may work best for severe IBS symptoms.
The effects of CBD edibles take some time (about 30 minutes to an hour), depending on your metabolism. CBD goes through the digestive system and liver first before entering the bloodstream.
Their effects can take less than 30 minutes for the rest of the CBD forms since CBD bypasses the digestive system and liver. The cells immediately absorb them, and CBD directly joins the bloodstream.
Edibles produce the longest duration of effects since CBD gets to stay longer in the body. On the other hand, these effects are delayed due to the first-pass metabolism in the liver.
Whatever type and form of CBD you choose, you need to use CBD religiously to enjoy its full effects.
Quality of the CBD Product
Again, the CBD market remains unregulated, so you have to know what to look for in premium-quality CBD products when you buy locally or online. These include:
- Laboratory test result or certificate of analysis by a certified third-party: This shows the CBD product’s quality, potency, and safety. It looks for the presence of toxic residues, harmful residual solvents, heavy metals, and pathogenic microbes. It also makes sure that the product contains its stated cannabinoid and terpene profiles and potency.
- CBD source: The source material must be organically grown and free from artificial pesticides. CBD should also be extracted using safe and clean methods like the supercritical CO2 extraction process.
- Customer reviews: These tell a lot about the CBD product, so stay away from those receiving more negative feedback than positive ones.
Final Thoughts — Can CBD for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Benefit You?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic medical condition that can negatively affect your daily life. If left untreated, the symptoms will only worsen and prevent you from enjoying life.
CBD has many properties that may prove effective for IBS symptom management. Not only can it help control pain and inflammation but also help with gut motility and mental health problems associated with this disease.
Are you using CBD for IBS? Does it help with your symptoms? Share your experience below.
References Used in the Article:
- DiPatrizio N. V. (2016). Endocannabinoids in the Gut. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 1(1), 67–77. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2016.0001 
- Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I., & Skrzydlewska, E. (2019). Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 9(1), 21. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox9010021 
- Martínez, V., Iriondo De-Hond, A., Borrelli, F., Capasso, R., Del Castillo, M. D., & Abalo, R. (2020). Cannabidiol and Other Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoids for Prevention and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders: Useful Nutraceuticals?. International journal of molecular sciences, 21(9), 3067. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21093067 
- Kabra, N., & Nadkarni, A. (2013). Prevalence of depression and anxiety in irritable bowel syndrome: A clinic-based study from India. Indian journal of psychiatry, 55(1), 77–80. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5545.105520 
- de Mello Schier, A. R., de Oliveira Ribeiro, N. P., Coutinho, D. S., Machado, S., Arias-Carrión, O., Crippa, J. A., Zuardi, A. W., Nardi, A. E., & Silva, A. C. (2014). Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa. CNS & neurological disorders drug targets, 13(6), 953–960. https://doi.org/10.2174/1871527313666140612114838 
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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.
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.