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cbd oil for irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and CBD Oil: Finding Relief

Written by Jason Brett — Edited by Cathy Rozyczko on April 1, 2021 — Reviewed by Sarah Neidler, PHD

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be a debilitating, crippling condition with treatments that are often ineffective. Fortunately for those experiencing pain associated with IBS, this may not be the case for much longer. Multiple scientific studies are pointing to the use of CBD for irritable bowel syndrome relief.

IBS can cause incredible disruption to the lives of those who have it. Symptoms can include everything from abdominal pain and cramping, excessive gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and an urgent need to have a bowel movement.

Keep in mind, the information presented on this page is intended to serve only as an informational guide and should not be interpreted as medical advice.

Benefits of Using CBD Oil to Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Substantial lifestyle changes, like adjustments to eating habits and diet, are the most common recommendations for IBS sufferers. In many instances these recommendations provide relief but it could be limited, as people may stray away from their prescribed diets. When dietary recommendations fail to help or just aren’t practical, medical professionals often turn to medications like antispasmodics, laxatives , antimotility medications , and even low-dose antidepressants to reduce gastrointestinal pain and cramping.

Unfortunately, you can experience any number of side effects including nausea, bloating, or even difficulty breathing when using a more traditional treatment method for your IBS. And because the exact causes of IBS are unknown and its severity ranges widely amongst those diagnosed with the condition, it can be difficult to find one catch-all treatment option to help relieve the inflammatory symptoms associated with IBS.

The need for a safer, more effective, and natural treatment has never been stronger for people with irritable bowel syndrome. Enter CBD oil.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The most commonly known and discussed cannabinoids are CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) . THC is most commonly associated with the “high” sensation people get after smoking or consuming marijuana products. CBD, on the other hand, does not have any intoxicating effects, meaning it delivers a range of health benefits without leaving the user with decreased mental and physical abilities.

CBD works indirectly on endocannabinoid receptors in the body, producing positive results for the treatment of pain , inflammation, anxiety , and some especially hard-to-treat ailments like multiple sclerosis (MS) , rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) . When it comes to IBS, CBD oil may be useful in conjunction with medications you’re already taking however you should always speak with your doctor because CBD has been shown to react to certain prescription medications , including antidepressants.

Effectiveness of Using CBD Oil to Help with IBS

Using CBD oil for irritable bowel syndrome can be incredibly helpful to all sufferers, but particularly to those who’ve had a difficult time finding relief through the traditional methods mentioned above.

In a 2008 review , neurologist Ethan Russo, suggested that irritable bowel syndrome is the result of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD). Individuals with CECD produce fewer amounts of cannabinoids than is considered necessary for healthy functioning; the endocannabinoid system plays a role in appetite, digestion, immune regulation, mood, and sleep, and relies on the presence of cannabinoids to function properly.

When external cannabinoids like CBD are introduced to someone with CECD via products like CBD oil, they can stimulate the endocannabinoid receptors and help return the digestive tract to a state of homeostasis. This ultimately aids in reducing the abdominal pain and intestinal inflammation associated with conditions like IBS.

A 2007 study demonstrated how highly impactful cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) in the gastrointestinal tract can be when it comes to regulating intestinal inflammation. Certain cannabis-derived products can help activate these cannabinoid receptors in the GI tract, in turn reducing or putting a stop to gastrointestinal inflammation. CBD oil has been proven to have an indirect effect on the activation of both CB1 and CB2 receptors, which means taking it could reduce the inflammation associated IBS.

Finally, a 2011 study found CBD to be an effective agent in helping to reduce intestinal inflammation caused by the presence of bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS), which are found in high levels in people who have diarrhea caused by IBS. So, if you’re suffering from irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D), you might consider trying CBD oil to mitigate your symptoms.

How to Take CBD Oil for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

When taking CBD oil for IBS, it’s best to use an oral delivery method but the exact one you choose is up to you. Whether you choose drops, edibles (e.g. gummies), shatter, or capsules, for example, will come down to your personal preferences. Drops and shatter will typically be the most potent form of CBD you can take, but may also have a different effect on your body than a less-potent CBD gummy bear. It’s best to try out a few different types of CBD-infused edibles so you can best decide which method is best for you.

Before taking CBD, or deciding which delivery method is best for you, consult your physician. If you have questions that cannot be answered by your regular healthcare professional, consider consulting a cannabis doctor to learn more about potential drug interactions and dosing.

It is important to understand that there is no standard dose for CBD oil. Because all people are different, there will be some variation in the amount needed to find relief. For more information about CBD dosing, you can check out our dosing page.

As a starting point, we here at CBD Oil Review have analyzed hundreds of products and come up with a standard serving suggestion:

The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25mg of CBD, taken twice daily.

If you are not getting your desired results from this amount, we recommend increasing the serving size by 25mg every 3-4 weeks until you find relief.

Find out how CBD oil can be used to reduce the inflammation and pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Research on CBD Oil for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Research on CBD Oil for Irritable Bowel Syndrome in recent years has been anything but a fruitless endeavor. Recently scientists have discovered that some compounds in cannabis, including phytocannabinoids like CBD, can be used as effective anti-inflammatory agents. 1,2 ( , ) Ever since, different cannabis preparations have been considered as pharmacological tools to fight inflammatory disorders, including Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. For a full list of the medical conditions for which CBD may be useful, please consult our research page.

What we know about CBD Oil & Irritable Bowel Disease

Cannabidiol’s anti-inflammatory effects may be particularly applicable to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is a gastrointestinal condition characterized by an overactive immune response in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). 3 ( ) This overactive immune response is directed by immune cells, such as mast cells and macrophages, which infiltrate the layers of the GI tract and secrete inflammatory chemicals, like TNF-alpha. The presence of these chemicals stimulates the production of endocannabinoids, which act on cannabinoid, and non-cannabinoid (e.g. TRPV1, Adenosine A1A, PPARgamma), receptors to reduce inflammation and stop infiltration of other inflammation-producing immune cells.

Phytocannabinoids, like CBD, interact with both cannabinoid and non-cannabinoid receptors, like the Adenosine A1A, TRPV-1 and PPARgamma receptors, which are thought to be involved in inflammation. 2,4 ( , ) ( Learn more about the endocannabinoid system ).

In a pre-clinical study using intestinal biopsies from humans with ulcerative colitis (UC) as well as biopsies from intestinal segments of mice with experimentally-induced colitis, CBD was shown to reduce levels of inflammatory chemicals like TNF-alpha, neurotrophin S100B and others. 5 ( ) This study adds to other, non-IBD-specific research, showing the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD. 6-9 ( , , , )

In a different study of experimentally-induced colitis in rats, both THC and CBD reduced inflammation and also reduced the associated dysfunction that often accompanies severe inflammation. 10 ( )

Human studies using smoked marijuana have also been conducted. For example, a 1990 case study of an individual with ulcerative colitis reported significant reductions in pain and discomfort while using smoked marijuana. 11 ( ) Two other observational studies, and one placebo-controlled study, also demonstrated reductions in inflammation and disease severity among patients with Crohn’s disease. 12-14 ( , , )


The therapeutic effects of phytocannabinoids, like CBD, are becoming more tangible and better understood, especially as it relates to inflammatory disorders like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). More clinical trials are needed, but the existing evidence indicates that CBD oil may represent a safe and effective treatment option.

Below is a list of available studies concerning the use of CBD, and other phytocannabinoids, in treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?.

Research Studies on the effects of CBD oil to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

  • Cannabidiol in inflammatory bowel diseases: A brief overview
  • CBD reduces intestinal inflammation through the control of neuroimmune axis
  • Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency ( CECD ): Can this concept explain therapeutic benefits of cannabis in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other treatment-resistant conditions?
  • Cannabinoid actions at TRPV channels: Effects on TRPV3 and TRPV4 and their potential relevance to gastrointestinal inflammation
  • Therapeutic potential of cannabinoid-based drugs
  • Beneficial effect of the non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabigerol on experimental inflammatory bowel disease (Biochemical Pharmacology)
  • CBD and the gut: New developments and emerging concepts
  • Endocannabinoids and the gastrointestinal tract
  • CBD and gastrointestinal motility
  • Getting into the weed: the role of the endocannabinoid system in the brain-gut axis
  • Cannabinoids and GI Disorders: Endogenous and Exogenous

4. Jia Y, McLeod RL, Hey JA. TRPV1 receptor: a target for the treatment of pain, cough, airway disease and urinary incontinence. Drug News Perspect. 2005;18(3):165-171.

5. De Filippis D, Esposito G, Cirillo C, et al. Cannabidiol reduces intestinal inflammation through the control of neuroimmune axis. PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e28159.

6. Malfait AM, Gallily R, Sumariwalla PF, et al. The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2000;97(17):9561-9566.

7. Gallily R, Yekhtin Z, Hanus L. Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of Cannabidiol by using Cannabis extract enriched in Cannabidiol. Pharmacology & Pharmacy,. 2015;6:75-85.

8. Philpott HT, O’Brien M, McDougall JJ. Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. Pain. 2017;158(12):2442-2451.

9. Hammell DC, Zhang LP, Ma F, et al. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Eur J Pain. 2016;20(6):936-948.

10. Jamontt JM, Molleman A, Pertwee RG, Parsons ME. The effects of Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol alone and in combination on damage, inflammation and in vitro motility disturbances in rat colitis. Br J Pharmacol. 2010;160(3):712-723.

11. Baron JA, Folan RD, Kelley ML. Ulcerative Colitis and Marijuana. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2019;112(6):471-471.

12. Naftali T, Lev LB, Yablecovitch D, Half E, Konikoff FM. Treatment of Crohn’s disease with cannabis: an observational study. Isr Med Assoc J. 2011;13(8):455-458.

13. Lahat A, Lang A, Ben-Horin S. Impact of cannabis treatment on the quality of life, weight and clinical disease activity in inflammatory bowel disease patients: a pilot prospective study. Digestion. 2012;85(1):1-8.

14. Naftali T, Bar-Lev Schleider L, Dotan I, Lansky EP, Sklerovsky Benjaminov F, Konikoff FM. Cannabis induces a clinical response in patients with Crohn’s disease: a prospective placebo-controlled study. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013;11(10):1276-1280.e1271.

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Dr. Jamie Corroon, ND, MPH

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Research on CBD Oil for Irritable Bowel Syndrome