CBD for IBD: Can CBD heal the gut?

cbd 4 IBD cases

Did you know that three million adults in the United States have either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease? In 2015, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated IBD cases to be 1.3% of the adult US population.

Luckily, cannabidiol (CBD) has shown the potential to help flatten the IBD curve.

But what is IBD, and how can CBD help treat it? Let’s first understand what the condition is all about.

What is IBD?

IBD is an umbrella term for conditions caused by chronic digestive tract inflammation. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the most prevalent types of IBD.

IBD conditions affect the inner lining of your digestive tract. The inflammation may cause an impairment of the digestive function of the system. Due to improper digestion, many IBD patients develop secondary conditions like weight loss.

What is CBD?

As more people turn to plant medicine, cannabis medicinal properties rise in popularity. But how well do you understand CBD?

CBD is a molecule extracted from the cannabis plant. Unlike the THC molecule, which gets people high, CBD has non-psychoactive effects.

CBD gets extracted in three spectrums,

  1. Full-spectrum CBD: a whole plant extract that has all the phytocannabinoids, including less than 0.3% THC and other essential oils.
  2. Broad-spectrum CBD: CBD with all the components of a full-spectrum extract but without the THC.
  3. CBD isolate: a pure form of the cannabinoid extract without any other cannabinoids or essential oils.

CBD products are ingested, inhaled, applied topically, or taken sublingually.

How CBD works for IBD

So how does CBD help IBD patients? It turns out that many of CBD’s effects can help ease the effects of this pervasive disease.

Abdominal pain

A study in 2019 looked at the efficacy of CBD and Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA). The study looked at how they control leaky gut due to altered absorption of the digestive system. The combination was a success in normalizing high permeability. This helped reduce the pain experienced with inflammation of n the gut.

The PEA compound is produced in the body. The fatty acid is known to offer relief for pain due to inflammation. CBD, together with PEA, can help inflammatory bowel disease patients to ease the pain.

Ulcerative colitis (UC)

Does CBD help with UC? Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition specifically affecting the rectum and colon. The disease can also cause inflammation of the inner tissues.

The common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are

  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • rectal bleeding
  • mucus passage

The research going into cannabis and UC has yet to be conclusive. However, CBD shows the potential in increasing the life quality of IBD patients.

Two studies investigating the subject found CBD helped ease symptoms in patients. The products used helped them achieve remission.

Crohn’s disease (CD)

Comparable to ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease causes inflammation along the gastrointestinal tract. Yet, Crohn’s disease can be present anywhere from the mouth to the anus.

A study conducted in 2011 concluded that cannabis might reduce the need for other treatment forms in patients with CD.

In a 2013 study, 21 Crohn’s disease patients used cannabinoids in comparison to a placebo. CBD showed potential in activating a medical response. 45% of the patients who used phytocannabinoid therapy went into CD remission. Only 10% of the placebo group went into remission.

How to use CBD for IBD

Among all the ways of using CBD, ingestion, sublingual drops, and inhaling seem to be the most popular. These modes of CBD administration make it more potent and bioavailable. There are pros and cons to each of them.

The effects of CBD edibles may take longer to show up due as they have to go through the digestive system. Research showed that edible CBD is underutilized. Only 20-30% of the dose taken is made available to the body’s endocannabinoid system receptors. However, the effects tend to stay around longer.

Sublingual CBD uses the salivary gland pores found under the tongue to enter the body. To use sublingual CBD, place a few drops of the oil under the tongue and hold until it all dissolves.

Inhaled CBD stands out alongside sublingual CBD when it comes to fast action. You may want to choose these two if you need more immediate relief for abdominal pain. These two CBD administration routes release the compound quicker than edible CBD.


CBD is fast becoming a common name in the circles of natural health. The compound is yet to be conclusively studied for some diseases and conditions. Preclinical trials solidly back anecdotal evidence for its efficiency in alleviating IBD symptoms. This is good news for many people who don’t respond to conventional medication. Plant-based treatment, like CBD, is taking center stage.

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