Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the active compounds in the cannabis plant. Very little research exists on the use of CBD oil for ulcerative colitis.

Animal studies suggest it may reduce inflammation. A clinical trial also indicates it may assist in the symptomatic treatment of ulcerative colitis.

However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved CBD to treat this condition. The agency also has concerns about the safety of products containing CBD.

Keep reading to learn more about the possible benefits and risks of CBD oil for ulcerative colitis and some other remedies that may help with the condition.

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Ulcerative colitis is a condition where the immune system causes inflammation and ulcers in the inner lining of the large intestine. Evidence shows there are 37–246 cases per 100,000 people in North America. Symptoms of this condition include diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and abdominal pain.

CBD is one of more than 70 different compounds in the Cannabis sativa plant. However, it does not produce the psychoactive “high” that people often associate with cannabis. A 2018 animal study shows that CBD reduces inflammation, suggesting it may help individuals with ulcerative colitis.

Additionally, a 2018 clinical trial reports that some people with mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis do not receive sufficient relief from symptoms through standard medications. The researchers compared the effects of a twice-daily dose of 50 milligrams (mg) of CBD-rich botanical extract with a placebo. They found no difference in remission rates between the CBD and placebo groups, but the results suggested that CBD may help provide symptomatic relief.

Because studies are limited, scientists cannot yet determine if CBD oil works for ulcerative colitis. According to The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation (CCF), no evidence shows that cannabis improves the condition, and more research is necessary.

In the 2018 clinical trial above, participants did not tolerate the twice-daily 50-mg dose of CBD-rich extract well. In fact, 90% reported side effects, and some discontinued treatment. The most common side effect was dizziness, which disappeared after stopping treatment.

A 2017 review looked at the safety of CBD. It found the most common side effects were diarrhea, tiredness, and changes in appetite or weight. The authors add that, based on a small quantity of data, CBD appears safe, but there are areas of concern that require further studies.

However, the FDA’s position on CBD safety does not agree with the 2017 review’s findings. It notes that CBD could harm people who take it, and these negative effects can occur before someone is aware of them. They include:

  • liver injury
  • male reproductive toxicity
  • sedation that can lead to injuries when a person combines CBD with alcohol or drugs that treat anxiety and sleep disorders

Additionally, CBD oil and other CBD products on the market have not undergone FDA assessment for proper dosage, the potential to cause drug interactions, or safety.

The below remedies may help ulcerative colitis.


Every person’s body has a gut microbiome that comprises a mixture of beneficial and harmful strains. According to the CCF, people with inflammatory bowel disorders (IBD), including ulcerative colitis, have differences in gut bacterial strains compared to those who do not have IBD. They also have fewer numbers of beneficial bacteria and less bacterial diversity.

When there is an imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacterial, the harmful strains grow and cause symptoms, such as diarrhea. However, probiotics can restore good bacteria and are generally safe. Sources of probiotics include yogurt, kefir, or probiotic supplements.

A 2017 review looked at clinical trials assessing probiotics for IBD. It highlighted 18 trials showing they had significant positive effects for ulcerative colitis. Therefore, the authors concluded they are beneficial for the condition.

Learn more about probiotics for ulcerative colitis.


Exercise is a complementary therapy that may prevent relapses of IBD, such as ulcerative colitis, reports a 2017 study. After looking at relevant research, the authors found data suggesting exercise rates have an inverse relationship to IBD. This indicates the more a person exercises, the lower their risk of IBD.

Although the safety of high-intensity exercise in people with IBD is unclear, moderate exercise is safe and beneficial. Studies also suggest it can help with the disease course and a person’s quality of life.

Curcumin supplements

Curcumin is a component of the spice turmeric. The CCF reports that limited studies indicate curcumin may help with ulcerative colitis in combination with mesalamine, an anti-inflammatory drug. However, more research is necessary to verify its effectiveness.

Additionally, curcumin is safe when a person consumes the spice in food. However, supplements containing large amounts of the substance may cause blood thinning, which can be a problem for certain people. Researchers also do not know if curcumin is safe to take during pregnancy.

Learn more about remedies for ulcerative colitis.

Research in 2017 reviewed studies on cannabis and its components, such as CBD. The findings showed the plant has moderate value in:

  • relieving chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • reducing chronic pain
  • decreasing multiple sclerosis-related spasticity

To date, the FDA has approved only one CBD product to treat certain types of seizures. It is also important to emphasize that dietary supplements containing CBD, such as CBD oil, have not undergone an FDA evaluation for their effectiveness.

Learn more about the benefits of CBD.

The FDA does not sanction the use of CBD oil for ulcerative colitis, although very limited research suggests it may be helpful for symptom relief.

Due to CBD’s potential side effects, the FDA recommends people consult a doctor before taking products containing this ingredient.

If a person wishes to try a natural remedy for ulcerative colitis, safer alternatives are available, including probiotics, exercise, and curcumin supplements.