Digestion and gastrointestinal issues can be uncomfortable and even debilitating. If you haven’t found relief, it may be time to try CBD. Read on and discover how CBD may improve digestion and GI health.
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The list of symptoms associated with digestion and gastrointestinal issues is long. That’s because your gut plays a major role in your overall health and happiness. Lifestyle changes and medication can provide relief, but what if they’re not enough?
When other methods fail, it may be time to consider trying CBD (cannabidiol). This plant compound is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. So, not only can CBD help reduce discomfort, but it may also relieve symptoms at the source. Keep reading and learn how CBD may improve digestion and GI health.
Disclaimer: We want to remind everyone that while CBD is considered a safe and mild supplement, you should always talk with your doctor before adding CBD to your regimen. This is particularly important if you’re already using any prescription medications.
How Does Your Gut Affect Your Health?
If you’re under the impression your gut is just in charge of digesting food, think again. Your gut is where the majority of your microbiome exists. The microbiome consists of millions of organisms (bacteria, protozoa, archaea, etc.) that are pivotal to your overall health. On top of digesting your food, it also helps with things like triggering immune responses, synthesizing vitamins and amino acids, and sometimes even releasing neurotransmitters like serotonin. This last part is sometimes called the gut-brain axis.
The gut-brain axis is important when it comes to your mental wellness. Do certain situations make you nauseous? Have you ever had a gut feeling? Well, there’s actually a scientific reason why our emotions are often connected to digestion and GI health. Basically, your brain and stomach have a very close relationship.
For example, just thinking about eating can cause your stomach to produce digestive juices. But it goes both ways too. Harvard Health Publishing says, “A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression.”
Plus, let’s not forget the long list of physical discomforts that can result from digestive and/or GI issues. We’re talking about bloating, diarrhea/constipation, heartburn, stomach cramps, and more. Sometimes GI issues can be severe enough to cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Celiac Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and more.
Often, lifestyle changes like dietary restrictions and altered eating habits can soothe these issues. Prescription medications can help those with severe issues, but what about those who still can’t find relief for digestion and GI issues?
Can CBD Improve Digestion and GI Health?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has a vast network of receptors throughout your body. The purpose of this system is to promote homeostasis when other systems become unbalanced. That might mean bringing your hormones, circadian rhythm, or even your stress response back into balance. Using naturally produced cannabinoids (called endocannabinoids), your ECS activates the necessary receptors to achieve balance. But how does this help digestion and GI issues?
Well, it turns out that your ECS also has receptors throughout your gastrointestinal tract. Several studies have examined the role of the ECS in gastrointestinal functions, and there’s strong evidence that it may influence, “motility, gut–brain-mediated fat intake and hunger signaling, inflammation and gut permeability, and dynamic interactions with gut microbiota.”
But what does that have to do with CBD? Well, the chemical makeup of CBD is very similar to your body’s endocannabinoids. So similar, in fact, that your ECS can use CBD the same way it uses endocannabinoids. So, when you use a CBD supplement, it’s like you’re giving your ECS more tools with which to accomplish its many tasks.
So, yes! CBD can improve digestion and GI health. Let’s look at a few specific ways CBD may help relieve these issues…
CBD Can Improve “Leaky Gut”
If you don’t suffer from this condition, the name may sound humorous. Those who actually deal with leaky gut, however, understand how serious the condition is. While medical professionals are still working to understand the exact cause of this issue, it’s believed that intestinal permeability plays a big role.
Your intestinal tract is lined with epithelial cells that link together to form a barrier. This barrier is sophisticated enough to allow nutrients to pass into the bloodstream without letting harmful substances through at the same time. When this barrier becomes permeable, however, harmful substances are able to penetrate this barrier. When this happens, your body undergoes a massive inflammatory response to protect itself from any bacteria or pathogens. This is what’s known as leaky gut.
Luckily, if lifestyle changes don’t resolve these issues, CBD may help. CBD has the ability to directly promote healthy permeability for the endothelial membrane. That means fewer harmful substances getting through and fewer inflammatory responses. A publication from Advanced Research in Gastroenterology & Hepatology says, “Moreover, CBD has also been shown to counteract intestinal inflammation directly and has demonstrated beneficial effects on the inflamed gut.” This gives CBD applications for a wide variety of digestion and GI issues. One of which is Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
CBD Has Shown to Ease Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (not to be confused with Irritable Bowel Disorder) is an umbrella term that includes other diseases like Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. While each individual disorder comes with its own unique list of symptoms, all IBD issues stem from chronic inflammation in the digestive tract.
Often, these diseases come with debilitating abdominal pain, fatigue, rectal bleeding, diarrhea, and unintended weight loss. A variety of medications (corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, biologics, etc.) may provide relief, but CBD may help if those fail.
Research presented at a United European Gastroenterology conference in 2019 indicated that full-spectrum CBD has the potential to reduce hypersensitivity in the abdomen. Basically, when a specific ECS receptor (the CB2 receptor) is activated, it has the ability to block painful stimulus in the GI tract. For Crohn’s Disease in particular, research indicates that the ECS may be, “a potential therapeutic target for cannabis and cannabinoids and animal models have shown benefit in decreasing inflammation.”
However, because these diseases have a high potential for further complications, it’s important to speak with your doctor before trying CBD. It’s also a good idea to keep track of your CBD intake and any responses you notice. This will help you avoid unwanted side-effects and determine what CBD strength and dosing are appropriate for you.
CBD Can Soothe Gut Issues Caused by Stress and Anxiety
Like we mentioned earlier, your digestive health can be influenced by your mental state. When some people experience stress and/or anxiety, they may notice painful stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, or even vomiting. While other factors can play a role, stress can worsen IBD and/or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
What’s even trickier, is that once stress starts to impact your gut…it can lead to even more stress. This endless cycle of stress and gut issues will quickly wreak havoc on your mental health, metabolism, nervous system, and more. This, in turn, increases the risk for further health problems–including more gut issues.
Luckily, this is an area where CBD really shines. One of the main reasons people use CBD is to help reduce stress and soothe anxiety. Several studies indicate CBD may be a valid treatment for several anxiety disorders. Part of this may be due to a built-in safety measure from the ECS. When GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter) levels get too low, the ECS sends endocannabinoids to promote more GABA production. This helps slow racing thoughts and reduce overall feelings of mania and anxiety.
Overall, the anxiolytic properties of CBD help you manage stress more efficiently. Everyone experiences stress differently (poor sleep, teeth grinding, emotional outbursts, etc.), but having a better grip on your stress responses will quickly improve your quality of life. Plus, the more we understand the gut-brain axis, the more we understand how managing stress helps to manage digestion and GI health too.
Try CBD For Relief From Digestion and GI Issues
These are just a few of the ways that CBD may help improve overall digestion and GI health. While more research is needed, many people are already finding relief and fewer symptoms by supplementing with CBD.
Take a look at our shop for a variety of CBD products to suit your needs, and feel free to contact us with questions. Gut issues can be embarrassing, painful, and isolating, but you still deserve to find relief. Try CBD today so you can feel better and live more.