Is CBD an effective weapon against irritable bowel syndrome?

by in About CBD, Health Tips 28 sierpnia 2019

New studies concerning the use of CBD in treating inflammations and autoimmune diseases are very promising. The scientists take it into account while trying to find the causes of irritable bowel syndrome. CBD already is a subject of clinical trials in treating this disease. Scientists start to appreciate the digestive system, locating some very important parts of nervous and immune system over there. More and more people complain about digestive disorders, not mentioning the allergies, food intolerance or deplorable state of consuming in general. Will cannabis, which by the way we can safely eat raw, help us fight this problem?

What is an irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Doctors do not know the exact reason of irritable bowel syndrome. It is a painful and chronic disease of small and large intestine.

Supposedly, there are many factors that add up to development of the disease:

  • recent infections of gastrointestinal tract,
  • gastrointestinal motility disorders,
  • spastic colon,
  • disorders on the gut-brain axis.

About 10-20% of population suffers from irritable bowel syndrome; therefore, it is one of the most common diseases of the digestive system. It is more frequent among women than men, and among young people than old.

What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?

The symptoms may change over time, yet the most common ones are:

  • recurring stomach pains, which usually disappear after defecation
  • diarrhoea,
  • constipation,
  • nausea,
  • irregular defecation,
  • abdominal distension,
  • excess of intestinal gas,
  • drowsiness,
  • lack of energy,
  • headache,
  • backache,
  • frequent urination,
  • anxiety,
  • depression.

How can intestine inflammation affect us?

Literature is full of patients’ reports stating that their intestinal diseases were treated with the use of medical marijuana; that is why scientist have decided to check how substances contained in cannabis may impact IBS. The study was conducted by Beth A. McCormick, Professor of Microbiology and Physiology on the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Prof. McCormick took a closer look to inflammations development, especially what happens if our immune system is overreacting. Inflammations can destroy epithelium, the protective layer which covers your intestines. Cannabinoids turn out to be helpful in regulating inflammations and immune system, so there is a chance they may also help here.

New studies show the essential role of endocannabinoids

To stop the excessive reaction of immune system, our body sends special molecules to epithelium in order to prevent the development of inflammation. It turns out that endocannabinoids, substances naturally produced in our body, which are also present in cannabis, are a part of this process.

While conducting tests on mice and human cells, the scientists proved that during endocannabinoid deficiency body cannot control inflammations and epithelium in intestines gets damaged.

In other test from 2018, the researchers defined a mechanism in which endocannabinoid system controls the inflammations. “The mechanism has potential therapeutic properties” – they write.

External cannabinoids protect us against inflammations?

The scientists are convinced that when human endocannabinoid system does not work efficiently, we can support it with some external cannabinoids such as CBD or THC, and they will work anti-inflammatory, just like endocannabinoids.

Prof. McCormick discusses her research results:

“There’s been a lot of anecdotal evidence about the benefits of medical marijuana, but there hasn’t been a lot of science to back it up. For the first time, we have an understanding of the molecules involved in the process and how endocannabinoids and cannabinoids control inflammation. This gives clinical researchers a new drug target to explore to treat patients [with IBD]”.

Chewing gum with CBD as a treatment?

A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) calls scientists to initiate studies concerning the use of cannabis in treating IBS. In the meantime, the American company Axim Biotechnologies has already begun clinical trials on chewing gum with CBD. It is supposed to help patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

Providing it via a chewing gum results in sustained release of the compound and better bio-availability” – says dr Renger Witkamp.

Is cannabis a chance for patients suffering from bowel cancer?

The scientists are interested in using cannabis to treat not only IBS, but also a whole variety of disorders, including bowel cancer. The studies are at the early stage, but we can already read about attempts to organize the clinical knowledge related to endocannabinoid system and intestines. Studies concerning cannabis, whose development was very limited throughout a last few decades, may turn out to be essential in treating civilisation diseases.

Healthy intestines define healthy body. If we can heal this area with the use of CBD, we can avoid many other, maybe even more serious problems. Finally, better knowledge about endocannabinoid system may help us understand how we can treat many other diseases, including dangerous tumours.


Waseem Ahmed, S. (2016). Therapeutic Use of Cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Gastroenterology & Hepatology, [online] 12(11), p.668.

Grill, M., Hasenoehrl, C., Storr, M. and Schicho, R. (2018). Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids: An Option for the Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Cancer of the Colon?. Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids, 1(1), pp.28-35.

Szabady, R., Louissaint, C., Lubben, A., Xie, B., Reeksting, S., Tuohy, C., Demma, Z., Foley, S., Faherty, C., Llanos-Chea, A., Olive, A., Mrsny, R. and McCormick, B. (2018). Intestinal P-glycoprotein exports endocannabinoids to prevent inflammation and maintain homeostasis. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 128(9), pp.4044-4056.

Neish, A. (2018). Acute inflammation: endogenous cannabinoids mellow the harsh proinflammatory environment. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 128(9), pp.3750-3751.

Uranga, J., Vera, G. and Abalo, R. (2018). Cannabinoid pharmacology and therapy in gut disorders. Biochemical Pharmacology, 157, pp.134-147.

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