Although it depends on the diagnostic criteria used, research suggests that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) impacts approximately 11% of the global population. This extremely common condition can affect the lives of its sufferers quite significantly, making it something that people desperately seek solutions for.
There are numerous ways to treat this condition and ease the symptoms. However, many treatments involve adapting one’s lifestyle to try and treat the conditions naturally.
What if there was another natural remedy to help relieve the symptoms of this condition without having to change one’s lifestyle significantly? Could CBD oil serve as a way to address the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome? This article looks into the available evidence so far.
First, let’s take a look at what this condition is.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): What Is It?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a medical condition that affects the body’s digestive system. Unfortunately, it is a chronic problem that often affects patients throughout their lives, causing much pain, discomfort, and frustration. It can occur in people of all ages, and it tends to be more common in women.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but several theories link it to the digestive tract passing food through either too quickly or too slowly, oversensitive nerves in the gut, stress, or even genetics. What’s worse is that there is no real cure for IBS, although there are several ways to control the irritating symptoms.
IBS has no direct cure, but there are some ways to manage the symptoms. Could CBD be one of them?
Usually, IBS manifests itself through stomach pains or cramps (which may worsen after eating), bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. These symptoms can fluctuate, as sufferers often find they have good days and bad days.
In addition to these more common symptoms, sufferers of IBS may also encounter flatulence, fatigue, nausea, and incontinence. Some research suggests that IBS may be linked to depression and other mental health issues.
IBS Treatments: Traditional Options
Most medical practitioners will recommend one or more of the following traditional treatments to alleviate IBS symptoms. In reality, none of them are highly efficacious, and what works for one individual might not work for the next. This brings a certain degree of trial and error into treating IBS, sometimes prolonging the discomfort while an individual finds the correct treatment.
Adjustments to Diet
There are suggestions that adjusting one’s diet can alleviate IBS symptoms. Generally, experts recommend avoiding things like fatty, spicy, or processed foods. Also, monitoring fiber intake and limiting tea and coffee consumption may prove beneficial. Cooking with fresh ingredients is also always a good idea, as is limiting alcohol and fizzy drinks.
Adjustments to Lifestyle
Apart from the above dietary changes, many doctors also suggest other lifestyle changes to reduce the symptoms. Since IBS may be linked to stress, doctors recommend finding ways to relax in hopes that symptoms will disappear by themselves. Furthermore, some practitioners suggest getting plenty of exercise and living a generally healthy lifestyle to manage IBS.
People often use probiotics as a treatment for IBS. They are live bacteria and yeasts that may have several health benefits. Usually, they are administered as food supplements or found in yogurt.
Many people believe that probiotics restore the presence of natural bacteria in the gut, which may help to reduce the symptoms of IBS. For those trying probiotics to treat IBS, doctors usually recommend taking them for at least four weeks to see if they help.
Can CBD Help with IBS? What Does the Research Say?
CBD oil is a fast-growing industry. It involves using the CBD compound found in the cannabis plant, which is non-intoxicating (unlike THC, the other well-known component of cannabis). CBD is also thought to have many health benefits, which are coming to light thanks to numerous studies currently being conducted.
CBD works by targeting the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This biological system contains two primary endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. While the CB1 receptors, found predominantly in the brain, are stimulated by THC, CBD modulates CB2 receptors, which are located mostly in the immune tissues.
In a 2008 review, the neurologist Ethan Russo suggested that an endocannabinoid deficiency may cause IBS. Endocannabinoids are the natural cannabinoids that occur within the body, produced through biological processes. This review presents a strong foundation for the belief that CBD may help to alleviate IBS symptoms.
A 2018 review of studies published in Molecules found that CBD could help alleviate pain and inflammation, properties linked with irritable bowel syndrome. One of the studies reviewed by the researchers indicated that CBD could protect against intestinal inflammation.
A 2020 review published in the International Journal of Molecules investigated the impact of CBD and other non-intoxicating cannabinoids on GI disorders. The authors concluded that phytocannabinoids have “high therapeutic potential to treat the diseased GI tract.” They also acknowledged that CBD and THC could prove beneficial, but further studies are urgently needed.
Overall, while there is some evidence for CBD’s efficacy in alleviating IBS symptoms, there is a lack of clinical data.
The Best Way to Take CBD Oil for IBS
At present, there’s no evidence that any form of CBD consumption is superior to another when it comes to managing IBS symptoms. However, vaping is a popular option because it offers a much higher bioavailability than any oral or sublingual consumption. It also ensures that the effects of CBD are felt quicker.
Nonetheless, there remain health concerns over vaping in general, and the recent PACT Act means that relatively few CBD brands sell vape juice or vaporizers.
CBD oil is consumed sublingually, with individuals using it by placing a few drops of the oil beneath their tongues and holding it for up to 90 seconds before swallowing. Users also tend to feel the effects of sublingual consumption quickly, and the cannabinoid remains in the body longer than when one vapes.
CBD edibles are easy to dose. Users particularly enjoy gummies because of their delicious taste. However, the digestive system metabolizes orally consumed CBD, meaning it can take over an hour for users to feel an effect. Edible CBD also has the lowest level of bioavailability.
Best CBD Oil for IBS
Finding the best CBD oil for irritable bowel syndrome is not easy. There are hundreds of brands selling the non-intoxicating cannabinoid, and not all provide the kind of quality one requires. This is mainly due to the unregulated nature of the CBD industry.
As a result, it is essential to look for CBD products with:
- Updated third-party lab reports
- Information on the amount of CBD and THC per product
- Proof that the product contains no heavy metals, mold, pesticides, or insecticides
- Evidence that the product comes from hemp that contains a maximum of 0.3% THC
- Details about where the brand sources its hemp
We have included a list of reputable CBD brands at the end of this article to save our readers some time. We believe these companies are among the best in the industry and are worth checking out.
CBD Dosage for IBS
Unfortunately, as CBD is not an FDA-approved drug, there is no readily accepted dosage for any medical condition. In general, though, humans can tolerate a relatively high level of CBD without displaying significant adverse effects.
A 2011 study published in Current Drug Safety found that high doses of up to 1,500mg of CBD per day are reportedly well tolerated.
However, remember that CBD impacts everyone differently, and its effects can vary depending on:
- The user’s bodyweight
- The user’s body chemistry
- The CBD concentration of the product
- The condition one is using the cannabinoid for
For those who have never used CBD before, it is advisable to start at a low dose and increase slowly until the cannabinoid has the desired effect.
Final Thoughts About CBD for IBS
IBS is a very uncomfortable condition that affects millions of people worldwide. There are several available treatments that aim to help alleviate IBS symptoms. However, many patients still experience flare-ups of the condition despite diet and lifestyle changes.
Some studies show that CBD oil may offer a solution to those looking for a simple, natural way to alleviate IBS symptoms. Although it does not offer a cure, many patients who have used CBD oil for this condition will testify to its positive effects on the body.
However, despite some promising research, there isn’t yet enough evidence to suggest that CBD oil can effectively manage IBS symptoms.