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CBD and Inflammatory Bowel Conditions

Inflammatory diseases like Crohn’s, and syndromes like IBS, cause inflammation of the inner lining of the colon. This inflammation can lead to lots of painful symptoms like cramping, bloating, diarrhea, gas, and constipation. Luckily, there is an abundance of cannabinoid receptors, particularly CB2, in the gut. Because CBD interacts with the CB2 receptors, it’s got great potential for treating these conditions.

There have been several studies over the last decade or so showing a strong link between the endocannabinoid system and the GI system.1 A 2016 study showed that CBD might suppress colitis by reducing the activation of T-cells and inflammatory response in the colon.2 CBD has also been shown to reduce hypermotility (abnormally high activity) in the guts of mice.3 CBD’s ability to interact with other receptors outside the endocannabinoid system (specifically the PPAR-gamma) also makes it a novel candidate for treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).4

In one 2011 study, colitis was induced in rodents and the results showed that THC was somewhat effective on its own while CBD was not.5 A lower dose of THC combined with CBD proved most effective, giving more support for the synergistic relationship between the two and the theory of the entourage effect. The combination of THC and CBD also improved colonic muscle movement. Another 2011 animal study showed that administering CBD after inflammation was induced reduced the inflammation, while administering it before the inflammation was induced prevented it from happening at all.6

In fact, many professionals believe there is a strong connection between the ECS and gut. Dr. Ethan Russo believes that deficiencies in the endocannabinoid system can cause a variety of conditions, including IBS.7

  1. Angelo A. Izzo and Keith B. Sharkey, “Cannabinoids and the Gut: New Developments and Emerging Concepts,” Pharmacology & Therapeutics 126, no. 1 (2010): 21-38, doi:10.1016/j.pharmthera.2009.12.005.
  2. Haidar Shamran et al., “Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) Blockade Ameliorates Experimental Colitis by Altering MicroRNA Expression and Suppressing Inflammation,” Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 59 (June 2016): 10–20, doi:10.1016/j. bbi.2016.06.008.
  3. R. Capasso et al., “Cannabidiol, Extracted From Cannabis sativa, Selectively Inhibits Inflammatory Hypermotility in Mice,” British Journal of Pharmacology 154, no. 5 (2008): 1001–8, doi:10.1038/bjp.2008.177.
  4. Giuseppe Esposito et al., “Cannabidiol in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: A Brief Overview,” Phytotherapy Research 27, no. 5 (2012): 633–36, doi:10.1002/ptr.4781.
  5. J. M. Jamontt et al., “The Effects of Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Alone and in Combination on Damage, Inflammation Andin Vitromotility Disturbances in Rat Colitis,” British Journal of Pharmacology 160, no. 3 (2010): 712–23, doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.00791.x.
  6. Daniele De Filippis et al., “Cannabidiol Reduces Intestinal Inflammation through the Control of Neuroimmune Axis,” PLoS ONE 6, no. 12 (2011), doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028159.
  7. Ethan B. Russo, “Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD): Can This Concept Explain Therapeutic Benefits of Cannabis in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Other Treatment-Resistant Conditions?” Neuro Endocrinology Letters 29, no. 2 (2008): 192–200.