If you’re living with IBS, you may find yourself frequently running to the bathroom after meals, feel like you have weak digestion, or feel anxious.
A diagnosis of IBS usually includes a set of symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and/or constipation. It’s also common to experience associated symptoms like indigestion, bloating, burping, and acid reflux (GERD).
There aren’t many conventional treatments for IBS itself, but your PCP may recommend pharmaceuticals to address symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, or acid reflux. These are usually treated with laxatives, anti-diarrheals, and proton-pump inhibitors.
The majority of my patients report that their prescribed pharmaceuticals help for a short period of time, but are searching for natural medicines that will correct the underlying reasons for the IBS.
Research on the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) for IBS and other disorders is still inconclusive. However, CBD does seem to benefit both anxiety and the stress response. It has also shown promising results for seizures and the potential to benefit cancer.
Does IBS Go Away?
Researchers don’t fully understand the reasons why people develop IBS. Yet, in my practice, I often discover that patients who have IBS describe underlying feelings of anxiety or are under significant stress.
This stress is frequently associated with career uncertainty, relationship difficulties, or a challenging home life. I find that when the stress and anxiety improve, the IBS symptoms also improve.
While it makes sense to address the gastrointestinal (GI) system with natural medicines, it makes more sense to try and resolve the underlying issue that is creating the IBS. With each patient, I work to discover the underlying reasons for their IBS symptoms, which most often seem to be stress, anxiety, and also poor diet.
If these factors are addressed, you can typically expect an improvement in your IBS symptoms, in my experience. I have prescribed homeopathic medicines to help with both anxiety and stress, in combination with nutrition and lifestyle modifications, and patients have reported tremendous improvements in their symptoms with this approach.
Does CBD Oil Help with IBS?
CBD (cannabidiol) is a compound derived from the marijuana plant. You have likely heard of its more popular cousin, THC, which is the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana. CBD is not psychoactive, but does have various effects on the body.
CBD may help decrease the stress and anxiety that are often associated with IBS symptoms. This is mostly attributed to its ability to regulate the HPA-axis, which is a system in the body that deals with stress.
CBD is an interesting approach to IBS treatment because it works to improve the stress response and also controls factors in the GI system that contribute to IBS flare-ups, such as inflammation.
The reason your body responds to these compounds is because it has an endo-cannabinoid system. This means that CBD affect the chemistry of your body by interacting with endocannabinoid receptors.
If you’re considering trying CBD for your IBS symptoms, it is generally considered safe for adults. High doses can lead to side effects, but recommended doses typically don’t produce side effects. This particular study looked at the effects of CBD given in a variety of doses for different conditions. Daily doses ranged from 25 mg to 2000 mg per day, and results showed both safety and effectiveness.
Always talk to a doctor before starting any new supplements or medicines.
García-Gutiérrez MS et al. Cannabidiol: A Potential New Alternative for the Treatment of Anxiety, Depression, and Psychotic Disorders. Biomolecules. 2020;10(11):1575. Published 2020 Nov 19. doi:10.3390/biom10111575
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Harvard Health Publishing. CBD products are everywhere. But do they work? Published 2021 Dec 14. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/cbd-products-are-everywhere-but-do-they-work.