CBD for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

About CBD, Conditions


Do your guts feel like they’re all twisted up like a pretzel some days? Do you feel bloated and uncomfortable much of the time? Are you experiencing stomach cramps on the regular, while also being anything but regular? If so, this article might be for you. The focus of today’s discussion is the utilization of CBD for IBS.

CBD for IBS at a glance

What the claims are: In certain doses, CBD can decrease or eliminate the symptoms of IBS, including pain and cramping, stomach upset, and diarrhea.

What the studies show: While further clinical trials are still needed, the use of CBD for IBS shows great promise due to the interaction between the CBD compound at extra-cannabinoid system receptor sites. This makes CBD a potential candidate for the development of a new class of anti-IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) drugs.

What the facts say: Studies show that CBD can help with both inflammation related to IBS as well as the pain and discomfort associated with this condition. We’re also seeing a lot of anecdotal evidence via social media and online from people touting the positive effects of CBD for IBS as well.

What exactly is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

IBS is a disorder that affects the large intestine causing bloating, stomach cramps, gas, and diarrhea and/or constipation. This is considered a chronic condition that requires long-term management. While some people suffering from IBS are able to keep their symptoms under control through diet and stress-reduction, others require medication to even function day to day.

According to the International Foundation of Gastrointestinal Disorders, between 25 and 45 million people are currently suffering from IBS. This disorder is twice as likely to present in women due to hormones, which are considered a potential trigger. Other triggers include stress, and certain types of food, which can vary depending on the person but seem to often include wheat, dairy, citrus, beans, and carbonated drinks.

While the exact cause of IBS isn’t known, there are some risk factors that seem to play a part in developing this disorder:

  • Abnormalities in the nerves of your digestive system
  • Intestinal muscle contractions
  • Inflammation or severe infection
  • Changes to gut bacteria

Luckily, IBS doesn’t seem to result in changes to bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer, but there is no question that it is a painful and oftentimes embarrassing condition to live with. People with IBS miss three times as many days of work as people without, and they cite a lower quality of life due to pain and discomfort. Which, naturally, leads some of us to wonder…

CBD for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

How can CBD be used to help with my IBS?

In the past, we’ve mentioned several studies that have shown CBD can help relieve hard to manage pain, but it also shows promise as an antispasmodic. As IBS can often cause intestinal motility (or spasms and inflammation) this is a major potential benefit of using CBD for IBS that many with this disorder are finding helps manage their flare-ups.

Because CBD seems to have a blanket effect in that it covers a lot of different symptoms, it also seems to hit a number of the other issues people with IBS suffer in a more peripheral sense. Not only has CBD been shown to help with pain in general, it can also relieve stress, and assist in reducing inflammation, both of which are thought to trigger IBS attacks.

Lastly, there also seems to be a link between IBS symptoms and depression and anxiety. Studies have shown that many mood disorders respond to a CBD regimen as well. That means CBD for IBS truly may cover a number of the varying issues you might be experiencing from this condition.  

Is there a potential downside to using CBD for IBS?

People are sometimes surprised to hear that CBD is tolerated very well by most people. There is a small chance that you may experience minor side effects, which include diarrhea, lightheadedness, and drowsiness. While CBD is a compound derived from the cannabis plant, it’s important to note that, unlike THC, it’s considered non-psychotropic. This means it has the potential to help with your IBS symptoms without getting you high.

For people with hard to treat pain and sometimes debilitating conditions like IBS, CBD is widely considered a viable, safe option. There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence out there with regard to its potential benefits, but there are also some people suffering from this disorder who haven’t found relief using CBD for IBS.

It also bears mentioning that, for some people, it seems to exacerbate their symptoms. This seems to be due to a sensitivity to CBD that can result in diarrhea. On the whole, given the potential upside vs. the potential downside, CBD can give those suffering from this disorder real shot at managing their symptoms.

Should I give CBD for IBS a try?

Whether IBS is just an occasional inconvenience or it’s keeping you from work, play, sleep, or generally interrupting your day to day life, trying CBD for IBS is definitely something to consider. Pain-free days just might be in your future!

As with any change to your healthcare routine, before you try CBD for IBS, you should speak to your doctor. He or she can make sure it won’t interact with any of your current medications and help you decide if using CBD for IBS is a viable option for you.

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Last modified: June 20, 2019