Research suggests that CBD shows promise in managing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), such as pain and inflammation.

IBS is a long-term gastrointestinal disorder that can cause persistent discomfort.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound of the cannabis plant that is gaining popularity as a remedy for various health issues.

Although research is still in the early stages, people are increasingly using CBD as an alternative treatment for a variety of health conditions, including IBS.

CBD is one of around 540 phytochemicals found in the Cannabis sativa (C. sativa) plant. Research suggests it may help treat pain and inflammation, which are common symptoms of IBS.

Although CBD shows promise as a remedy for this condition, research has not yet proven that it is safe and effective, while the substance does not have approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating IBS.

In this article, we will discuss how CBD may ease symptoms of IBS, and suggest other remedies that may also help.

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

According to the National Centers for Complementary and Integrative Health, some evidence suggests that CBD could have modest benefits for inflammatory bowel disease. However, they note that more studies are needed to examine using CBD for IBS.

While there are limited studies looking at this, other research investigating the substance’s properties indicates that it may be beneficial for the condition.

A review in Molecules notes how CBD may be useful for treating pain and inflammation, properties that could help remedy IBS. A 2020 review also concludes that CBD could, in some cases, have benefits for relieving chronic pain and reducing inflammation.

A separate study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine supports these results. Another 2020 review, investigating the biological effects of CBD, also suggests it may have anti-inflammatory properties.

Click here to learn more about CBD and inflammation.

However, the FDA note that products containing CBD claiming to help stop the pain associated with IBS are both misleading and false. While promising, current research is mixed about the usefulness of CBD in managing IBS.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people generally tolerate CBD well. However, some common side effects of the substance, which may be dose-dependent, can include:

It is also worth noting that CBD may interact with certain medications, so people who take prescription medicines should speak with a doctor before using CBD products.

One of the main issues surrounding the use of CBD is the lack of information concerning long-term use and potential side effects. A 2020 study suggests that people generally tolerate CBD well with short- to medium-term use, with only mild side effects.

However, a 2018 commentary raises concerns regarding the potential side effects of long-term CBD use. It emphasizes the need for both further study and regulation of CBD products.

There is no established or recommended dose for CBD in managing IBS. A person should exercise caution when using any CBD product that claims to help with the symptoms of the condition.

The FDA does not currently approve any CBD product for IBS. As a result, dosages are actively open to interpretation, and people should treat them with caution.

Anyone who wishes to use CBD to treat their IBS symptoms should first speak to a doctor about whether it will be beneficial or safe, and how much to take.

Click here to learn more about CBD dosage.

The legal status of CBD in the United States is complex. Hemp and hemp-derived products are permitted under the Farm Bill, as long as they contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the compound that causes the high that people may associate with cannabis.

However, there is still some confusion over the specifics. People should check the laws in their state and any travel destination.

People should also note that the FDA have not yet approved any nonprescription products. This means people cannot be sure about what their CBD product may contain.

There are various CBD products currently available for purchase in several U.S. states. With any medicine, people should follow the instructions on the label and packaging to determine how often to use the product, how much to use, and how to apply it.

A person can ask their doctor about using CBD products for IBS. A healthcare professional may be able to recommend which type of product an individual can consider using and how best to use it.

As the FDA do not currently regulate products, people should look for CBD products that:

  • contain no more than 0.3% THC, per the Agriculture Improvement Act
  • have proof of third-party testing by an ISO/IEC 17025-accredited laboratory
  • pass tests for pesticides, heavy metals, mold, and microbes
  • pass product potency evaluations and safety testing
  • are not from a company subject to an FDA warning letter
  • are from a company that provide certificates of analysis for all their products

Additionally, people may also consider other factors such as:

  • CBD potency
  • price
  • retailer and manufacturer reputation
  • customer reviews

Read our complete buyer’s guide to CBD here.

In addition to medical treatments, there are alternative treatment options to CBD that people may wish to consider.

Research suggests that certain probiotics may help balance the microbes in the gut and help relieve symptoms. In a 2014 review, probiotics containing Saccharomyces boulardii and Bifidobacteria have shown some potential in treating symptoms of IBS. However, additional research is still necessary.

The same paper also suggests that peppermint oil displays some benefit. The review notes that three separate trials showed that peppermint oil decreases stomach discomfort, pain, and bloating in people with IBS.

In a 2016 review of herbal medications, researchers found several natural substances may help with some IBS symptoms. Aloe vera, curcuma, fumaria officinalis, and hypericum perforatum all show some promise in managing different symptoms of IBS.

Click here to learn more about treatment options for IBS.

CBD products show some promise in alleviating IBS symptoms such as pain and inflammation. However, to date, no product containing CBD has FDA approval to treat the condition or its symptoms.

A person should use caution when using CBD products for IBS. It is advisable for people to speak with their doctor or healthcare provider before using them.

CBD resources

Visit our dedicated hub for more research-backed information and in-depth resources on CBD.

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