Best CBD Oil For Ulcerative Colitis

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Can marijuana or CBD help manage the symptoms of ulcerative colitis? Studies investigating the effects of CBD on ulcerative colitis have found a positive link between supplementation with CBD and reduction in IBD symptoms associated with this condition. Here we explore the science behind these findings. Learn how people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are using CBD oil to manage symptoms. Best CBD oils for Crohn’s disease & colitis.

Can Marijuana or CBD Help With Ulcerative Colitis?

There’s lots of interest in medical marijuana and CBD to help manage a variety of conditions and symptoms such as pain, nausea, and trouble sleeping. If you or a loved one is struggling with ulcerative colitis (UC) and its symptoms, you might wonder if marijuana or CBD could help with those.

It’s useful to understand the difference between marijuana and CBD. Marijuana comes from a plant that people sometimes use for recreational or medicinal purposes called Cannabis sativa. It contains two main active ingredients: THC (short for delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (short for cannabidiol).

It’s the THC in marijuana that gives you a high. If you buy CBD products, they come from a cannabis cousin of marijuana called hemp. There shouldn’t be much if any THC in your CBD. So CBD might make you feel tired or make your mouth feel dry, but you won’t get high from taking it.

Does either help with UC? Some researchers and doctors are exploring the possibility that cannabis in one form or another helps people with inflammatory bowel disorders including UC. Based on the evidence so far, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no.

“There is a percentage of patients who use cannabis and feel better,” says Jami Kinnucan, MD, a gastroenterologist at the University of Michigan. “Their symptoms — most commonly abdominal pain or body pain, diarrhea, appetite, and nausea — improve.”

Limited Evidence

But, Kinnucan says, this doesn’t mean using cannabis is a good way to treat UC. That’s because people with UC have inflammation in their digestive tracts. This inflammation as well as ulcers is tied to UC symptoms, including diarrhea, pain, cramping, bleeding and fatigue. A primary aim of treatment is to stop the inflammation.

There’s some evidence in mice suggesting that cannabis could help with inflammation. This has to do with certain receptors that respond to other cannabinoids our bodies make naturally. Cannabis also may slow the digestive tract. But it isn’t clear that smoking cannabis or taking it in a capsule fights the underlying inflammation in people with UC.

In one small clinical trial, people with UC who took CBD capsules containing a small amount of THC for 10 weeks weren’t any more likely to go into remission than those taking a placebo. Smoking two marijuana cigarettes a day didn’t lower signs of inflammation either.

“If you do blood work, imaging or stool samples, patients’ numbers don’t change,” Kinnucan says. “While they may feel better, their inflammatory burden isn’t improving.”

The CBD study did report that the 10-week treatment improved quality of life. But the study’s participants also reported side effects, including dizziness, trouble paying attention, headache, nausea, and fatigue. Dizziness was the most common reason people in the CBD study dropped out. The marijuana study didn’t report on side effects or quality of life.

A recent review of the two clinical studies concluded that the effects of cannabis and CBD in people with UC remain uncertain. There’s no evidence that it can help to put people with UC into remission.

But it’s too soon to say whether it sometimes helps in other ways and how safe it is.

Kinnucan says it’s possible that cannabis could help some patients with UC and not others. For those with UC that’s controlled by medication, she says there’s no reason to think adding cannabis would help. It’s never a good idea to replace approved medicines with cannabis. There’s a risk that cannabis could hide symptoms and encourage people to stop needed treatments.

“At the end of day, if the hope is to control inflammation, there is no data to support that,” Kinnucan says.

Weigh the Risks

What’s most important for people with UC is to continue with treatments that doctors know work. If you continue to have symptoms, Kinnucan says a doctor should evaluate your disease to make sure the treatments you’re taking are sufficient. But if you or a loved one are taking medications as prescribed to control the UC, there’s a chance that cannabis might help with lingering symptoms like pain or nausea. She recommends taking cannabis orally over smoking it because of the risks of smoking and to start with the lowest THC levels.

Kinnucan says more doctors and patients should talk about cannabis, including how and why patients might be using it on their own. But for now, it’s difficult for doctors to know how to advise people with UC about how they might use cannabis safely. Studies of cannabis for inflammatory bowel diseases including UC are ongoing, so more data is coming.

In addition to whether it works, doctors and patients also have legal issues to consider when it comes to cannabis. CBD is federally legal as long as it contains only very low levels of THC, although the rules in particular states could change.

For marijuana, it’s more complicated. For example, in Michigan, recreational marijuana is legal but medical marijuana requires a confirmed diagnosis from two doctors. UC is on the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. Marijuana can be classified as medicinal or recreational. Both are legal in some states. Other states have only legalized medical marijuana. And in some, no form is legal. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also recognizes marijuana, including medical marijuana, as a controlled substance.

“We have patients who live in one state and drive across state lines to obtain cannabis but then illegally bring it back in,” Kinnucan says. “You should refer to your state laws. Crossing a border can be a criminal activity.”

Show Sources

Mayo Clinic: “ Medical marijuana,” “Ulcerative Colitis,” “What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use?”

Harvard Health: “Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t.”

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: “The Role of Cannabis in the Management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Review of Clinical, Scientific, and Regulatory Information.”

Jami Kinnucan, Gastroenterologist, University of Michigan.

The Journal of Clinical Investigation: “Intestinal P-glycoprotein exports endocannabinoids to prevent inflammation and maintain homeostasis.”

Michigan Health: “Cannabis for Treating IBD: Hope or Hype?”

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: “ Cannabis for the treatment of ulcerative colitis.”

Clinical Trials.gov: “Cannabis for Inflammatory Bowel Disease,” “Cannabidiol for Inflammatory Bowel Disease.”

Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation: “Foundation Position Statement: Medical cannabis.”

CBD Oil for Ulcerative Colitis: How It Works and Dosage

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the two most prevalent types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). While the two conditions may involve similar symptoms, they have different causes and should be approached from different angles.

While Crohn’s disease may show up in any part of the digestive gut, ulcerative colitis is exclusively referred to as inflammation of the colon. Another name for this condition is the ‘large intestine.’ Unlike Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis causes inflammation only in the inner lining of the gut.

Current treatments for inflammatory bowel diseases are expensive and may have dangerous side effects when taken regularly. For this reason, many people have started to seek out alternative methods of treatment, with CBD standing at the forefront.

If you’re flirting with the idea of taking CBD oil for ulcerative colitis, this article will give you a detailed look into the scientific research on this subject on top of sharing some handy tips for using CBD.

What Is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the colon and causing persistent ulcers, or sores, in the digestive tract. It falls into the category of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) along with Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The disease causes damage to the inner lining of the large intestine, which may lead to frequent bowel movements. Ulcerative colitis commonly affects adults aged thirty to forty years old and generates up to $15 billion in government spendings on healthcare in the United States (1).

The cause of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease isn’t fully understood. However, scientists suspect that hereditary factors are the major players in the development of these conditions.

Causes & Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

The cause of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease isn’t fully understood. However, scientists suspect that hereditary factors are the major players in the development of these conditions. These are autoimmune diseases, meaning the immune system attacks healthy cells instead of potential “intruders,” causing chronic inflammation. But like we said, the “why” behind the development of chronic inflammation in the gut is yet to be discovered.

Ulcerative colitis symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Loose and frequent bowel movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low energy and fatigue
  • Persistent diarrhea
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However, these symptoms aren’t chronic in nature; a person with ulcerative colitis may go several months without any symptoms, only to be taken aback by severe flare-ups from time to time.

How Is Ulcerative Colitis Typically Treated?

Ulcerative colitis is theoretically incurable, but doctors may prescribe different medications to reduce the inflammation and manage the abdominal pain. These medications include aminosalicylates — the go-to treatment for the majority of IBD cases — but a physician may also prescribe antibiotics or corticosteroids.

In more severe cases of ulcerative colitis, surgery may be required to remove the parts of the large intestine that are most damaged. Sometimes, the disease can be cured with surgical removal of the colon, but it may seriously compromise a person’s daily functioning, not to mention the risks of such surgery, especially among elderly sufferers.

Can CBD Oil Help Ulcerative Colitis?

Researchers hypothesize that CBD may be an effective alternative for ulcerative colitis due to its remarkable anti-inflammatory properties.

According to the National Institute of Health, CBD has both analgesic (pain-relieving) and anti-inflammatory effects on the gastrointestinal tract without causing intoxication.

Furthermore, few people are aware that the U.S. government holds a patent on CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids as strong antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents (2).

The patent says, “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties… [making them] useful in the treatment of a wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, [including] inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.”

The human endocannabinoid system (ECS), which keeps the body in the state of internal balance (homeostasis), has high concentrations of cannabinoid receptors in the digestive system — including the colon’s lining.

Although there have not yet been clinical trials that would investigate the use of CBD oil for ulcerative colitis, preliminary research carried out for the last decade shows promising results.

Studies Exploring Use of CBD for Ulcerative Colitis

  • A 2011-2016 Israeli study examined the correlation between cannabis use and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The researchers monitored 127 patients, using the Harvey-Bradshaw index to collect data from each subject. All patients have reported positive results with minimal side effects, including dry mouth and short-term memory problems (3).
  • In a 2011 report published in PLOS One, the authors claimed that CBD has the potential to become a ‘new therapeutic strategy’ in treating inflammatory bowel disease. The aim of the study was to observe the effects of CBD on the samples of intestinal biopsies from patients who had ulcerative colitis. The research team concluded that the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD may help treat a range of IBDs, including ulcerative colitis (4).
  • A 2018 study analyzed the efficacy of CBD in adults 18 and older with ulcerative colitis. Although the remission rates between those using CBD and the placebo group were nonexistent, the study suggested that CBD extracts may alleviate the symptoms of IBD (5).
  • A clinical trial performed on mice showed that the topical use of CBD can improve colonic inflammation associated with ulcerative colitis (6).

Can CBD Oil Help with Crohn’s Disease?

Now that we’ve established CBD can help with ulcerative colitis, you’re probably wondering if it can have similar effects on Crohn’s disease. After all, this condition, too, belongs to the IBD group.

It’s time to elaborate on the aforementioned study from Israel. The study observed and evaluated the effects of cannabis use on patients with different types of IBD, including Crohn’s disease. The research team gathered 127 medical cannabis patients and closely monitored them using several assessment methods. These included forms of cannabis consumption, the use of other medications, side effects, and the long-term effects of cannabis use. The authors also took into consideration the exact THC and CBD levels the study’s subjects consumed.

After 42 months of treatment, researchers used the said Harvey-Bradshaw Index to assess the effects of medicinal cannabis on the symptoms and overall well-being of the patients. A lower score on the index meant a decrease in the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. For cannabis users, the index score went down from 11 to 5, and the patients experienced a decrease in their bowel movements — from 7.0 to 3.4 on average. The participants also reported a considerable reduction in pain.

The results of the study were encouraging, with 78% of participants reporting no harmful side effects. Some patients experienced very mild side effects, such as dry mouth and short-term memory decline. However, these patients also noted that the improvements in their symptoms outweighed these minor reactions.

The authors of the study (Naftali et al.) concluded that cannabis can induce clinical improvements in people with IBD and that it can lead to decreased medication use and weight gain. They also noted that the subjects responded well to a dose of 21 mg THC and 170 mg CBD per day.

CBD vs THC: Which Is Better for IBD Symptoms

This question is difficult to answer due to the current state of scientific knowledge on using cannabis for IBD. In other words, the majority of studies suggest that using whole-plant extracts with various ratios of CBD and THC appear to provide the best results for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. No clinical trial has yet investigated the safety and efficacy of isolated CBD and THC for IBD.

Let’s take a look at these cannabinoids from a more practical point of view.

As mentioned, CBD has remarkable anti-inflammatory and painkilling effects. On top of that, it can modulate the inflammatory response of the immune system by improving communication between its cells. Numerous studies have mentioned these qualities in relation to a wide range of health conditions, including IBD and its symptoms.

However, studies also show that the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of CBD are enhanced when you introduce some THC to an extract (along with other cannabinoids and terpenes). Researchers argue that even 1% of THC in a cannabis strain can significantly improve the plant’s therapeutic potential.

THC is a potent anti-inflammatory and pain killer as well, but on top of that, it produces a set of psychoactive effects known as a “high.” This “high” feeling usually elevates the user’s mood provided that they take it in moderate doses. However, high doses of CBD are known for their backfire effect, which can lead to more anxiety and paranoid thinking patterns.

Now, when you take both cannabinoids together, CBD blocks the psychotropic potential of THC, preventing it from elevating anxiety, while THC amplifies the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of CBD. This mutual relationship is part of what scientists define as the entourage effect (6).

The entourage effect refers to synergistic effects between cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds found in cannabis. This synergy improves their therapeutic potential, making them work better as a whole than in isolation.

If your state or country has a medical marijuana program, you can try medical-grade CBD oil. For others, full-spectrum CBD oil from hemp is the closest they can get to evoking the entourage effect.

How to Use CBD Oil for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis?

If you decide to try CBD for ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, it’s important to choose a form that will be the most beneficial. CBD is available in oil drops, capsules, edibles, vapes, and topicals; each of these products has different bioavailability, addresses different problems, and suits different types of users.

Here are the most common ways people take CBD for ulcerative colitis:

  • CBD oil: the most common product on the list, CBD oil comes in glass bottles with droppers attached to them for accurate dosing. To use CBD oil, you need to squeeze the desired amount with the dropper, transfer that dose under the tongue, and hold it there for up to 60 seconds before swallowing. Since the oil absorbs right into the bloodstream through the tiny blood vessels beneath the tongue, you should be able to notice the first signs of relief within 15–30 minutes after administration. The effects of sublingual CBD last for up to 6 hours.
  • CBD pillsand edibles: CBD capsules and edibles are oral products that come with a premeasured amount of CBD in each serving. Convenience is the name of the game here. Capsules and edibles are easy to take, low-profile, and eliminate the problem of swallowing earthy-tasting oil. They have a slower onset than the oil, though, as the CBD needs to be processed in the digestive system before passing into the bloodstream. The effects take hold usually between 40–90 minutes after ingestion, lasting 8–10 hours.
  • CBD E-liquid (vape oil): CBD e-liquid can be heated in a vape pen and then inhaled for fast results and high bioavailability of CBD. CBD vape oil starts to act after around 5-10 minutes from inhalation, lasting up to 4 hours. CBD e-liquid isn’t the same as CBD oil. Regular CBD oil cannot be vaped because it’s too viscous. CBD vape oil is thinned down with ingredients like vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol.
  • CBD topicals:topical products, such as creams, gels, and lotions, address localized problems, such as pain or inflammation resulting from injuries or flare-ups. Some studies have found that using CBD cream may reduce abdominal pain associated with IBD. They absorb through the skin into the epidermis layer, which contains high concentrations of cannabinoid type 2 (CB2) receptors. The absorption rate, as well as the duration time of effects, may vary depending on the product’s formula, but usually, topicals need to be reapplied after several hours to maintain the relaxing effect.
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CBD Dosage for IBD

There are no official recommendations when it comes to dosing CBD for ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases. If you want to get a decent point of reference, we suggest that you review the dosage of past human clinical trials to determine the safe amount for intake.

According to the studies mentioned in this article, patients with IBD respond well to amounts such as 50 mg of CBD twice a day. The participants who tolerated the compound well continuously increased their intake up to 250 mg twice per day for ten weeks — without dangerous side effects.

The study showed that patients who took CBD felt better and no longer experienced colitis symptoms. A few participants reported mild reactions, such as nausea and dizziness.

Other Remedies for IBD

Complementary therapies for IBD include herbal medicines. They are believed to alleviate the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.

For example, Italian complementary medicine mentions herbal therapies as frequently practiced by patients with IBD. In a similar manner, herbal remedies are recognized by Chinese literature that describes them as helpful in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.

These recommendations are based on the alleged anti-inflammatory benefits of specific herbs upon consumption.

Researchers mention Aloe Vera as a potential therapeutic agent in treating IBD, based on the positive outcomes of clinical trials on patients with the disease. Other herbs, such as Boswellia serrata and turmeric, are also reported to promote an anti-inflammatory response in the body.

Some CBD supplements are formulated with herbs such as Aloe Vera, Boswellia serrata, and turmeric. You can also mix different herbal remedies on your own, but we first recommend consulting a doctor knowledgeable about complementary medicine before you start your first trials.

Using CBD Oil to Treat Ulcerative Colitis: Does It Work?

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease of the colon that mostly damages the lining of the large intestine, causing people to experience flare-ups and frequent bowel movements. The condition is often confused with Crohn’s disease, and although these two may share similar symptoms, their nature is completely different and thus should be looked at separately.

There is no clear explanation of what causes inflammatory bowel diseases, and as of right now, scientists are still trying to find a cure for them.

While conventional treatments provide short-term relief from the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, they lose efficacy in the long run on top of having dangerous side effects.

Several studies have suggested that CBD and cannabis, in general, are possible medical treatment options for ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and other inflammatory bowel conditions. Researchers found that CBD could prevent injury in the colon’s lining as well as inflammation, which is the underlying cause of all IBD’s.

Experts believe that CBD exerts its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory actions by interacting with the cannabinoid receptors in the ECS.

However, researchers are yet to confirm whether the results from animal models and the preliminary findings from human subjects will be reflected in randomized controlled trials.

If you believe you could benefit from taking CBD for ulcerative colitis, visit a health provider experienced with CBD and cannabis oil.

References:

  1. Cohen RD, Yu AP, Wu EQ, Xie J, Mulani PM, Chao J. Systematic review: the costs of ulcerative colitis in Western countries. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Apr;31(7):693-707. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2010.04234.x. Epub 2010 Jan 11. PMID: 20064142.
  2. Naftali, Timna et al. “Medical cannabis for inflammatory bowel disease: real-life experience of the mode of consumption and assessment of side-effects.” European journal of gastroenterology & hepatology vol. 31,11 (2019): 1376-1381. doi:10.1097/MEG.0000000000001565
  3. De Filippis, Daniele et al. “Cannabidiol reduce intestinal inflammation through the control of neuroimmune axis.” PloS one vol. 6,12 (2011): e28159. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028159
  4. Irving, Peter M et al. “A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Parallel-group, Pilot Study of Cannabidiol-rich Botanical Extract in the Symptomatic Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis.” Inflammatory bowel diseases vol. 24,4 (2018): 714-724. doi:10.1093/ibd/izy002
  5. Schicho, Rudolf, and Martin Storr. “Topical and systemic cannabidiol improves trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid colitis in mice.” Pharmacology Vol. 89,3-4 (2012): 149-55. doi:10.1159/000336871
  6. Russo, Ethan B. “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects.” British journal of pharmacology vol. 163,7 (2011): 1344-64. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x
Livvy Ashton

Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.

CBD for IBD: Can It Help with Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis?

CBD is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory supplement.

New research suggests CBD oil as a promising new treatment option for IBD (Crohn’s & Colitis).

Article By

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) can be frustrating.

It isn’t just the pain or bowel urgency — it interferes with all aspects of your life. IBD can cause you to miss work and social events when symptoms flare-up.

A compound found in the hemp plant called cannabidiol — or CBD for short — has been shown to offer benefits towards some of the negative symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases.

In this article, you’ll learn how it works and how to use it effectively.

We’ll also cover some of the best CBD oils to use for IBD.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY

Carlos G. Aguirre, M.D., Pediatric Neurologist

Updated on January 12, 2022

Table of Contents
  • 1. Ulcerative Colitis
  • Four Factors That May Trigger IBD:
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    The Benefits of CBD For Inflammatory Bowel Disease

    CBD influences many of the chemical messengers involved in controlling inflammation. This fantastic plant extract does this by acting on receptors within the endocannabinoid system.

    What is the endocannabinoid system?

    The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex set of receptors found throughout the body, tasked with regulating inflammation and peristalsis (movement of intestines) in the gut and stress responses in the brain [1].

    In the case of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, CBD has been shown to provide the following benefits:
    1. Reduces gut inflammation
    2. Supports the health of the microbiome
    3. Alleviates abdominal pain & cramping

    Since CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation and interact with ECS receptors in the gut, it’s a promising supplement to help relieve some of the symptoms of IBD.

    1. CBD Reduces Gut Inflammation

    CBD has been shown to fight inflammation involved with many different types of inflammatory diseases — including IBD.

    One of the ways it does this is by influencing the normal cycle of our cells. It binds to cell receptors known as the adenosine A2 receptors, which control what molecules are produced and secreted by cells around the body [16]. CBD binds to the A2 receptors to stop the cells from releasing compounds that trigger and perpetuate the inflammatory process — effectively halting inflammation at the source.

    A second way CBD lowers inflammation with IBD is through its effect on the CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system itself. Its effect on these receptors stops the ability of specialized cells known as mast cells to release histamine [17] — a powerful inflammatory compound associated with allergies.

    2. CBD May Support the Microbiome

    Some research suggests that CBD can also impact the health of the microbiome. A dysfunctional microbiome is thought to be one of the main causes of inflammatory bowel disease.

    Early research has suggested that the endocannabinoid system is involved with maintaining a healthy diversity of microorganisms in the gut lining [13] — though more research is needed to understand this effect in more detail.

    3. THC & CBD May Alleviate Abdominal Pain & Cramping

    THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is also a well-known muscle relaxant — which can be used to stop the painful muscle contractions going on in the intestinal tract with IBD. This lowers abdominal cramping pain and improves motility in the digestive tract — resulting in less bloating, constipation, cramping, and feelings of fullness [14].

    CBD also modulates the sensation of pain by stopping certain neurons from firing.

    This occurs between secreted endocannabinoids and their receptors. While endocannabinoids have been shown to indirectly affect opioid receptors, it’s important to remember that endocannabinoids work within their own systems and do not interfere with other pain regulating systems. This is why THC and CBD do not have the same addictive qualities as morphine [15].

    What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

    Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term for two closely related conditions affecting the digestive tract — ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

    What’s the difference between these two conditions?

    1. Ulcerative Colitis

    Ulcerative colitis (UC) is defined as a long-term inflammation of the large intestine and colon. The inflammation becomes so bad it eventually forms ulcers and erosions in the digestive lining.

    The extensive damage to the digestive lining may reduce the number of nutrients we can absorb through the digestive tract and can affect our ability to keep harmful substances out of the bloodstream (leaky gut syndrome).

    People with ulcerative colitis tend to have less healthy bacteria and more harmful species compared with healthy people — a condition called dysbiosis.

    Dysbiosis in the gut causes disruptions to the intestinal environment due to the metabolites produced by the more harmful bacteria. These metabolites cause inflammation, which then causes more damage to the surface of the intestinal walls.

    This all leads to a cycle of inflammation that gets increasingly worse over time [4].

    Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

    2. Crohn’s Disease

    Crohn’s disease is also a result of long-term inflammation. However, the inflammation involved with Crohn’s occurs in patches along the intestinal tract. This is different from ulcerative colitis which can affect the entire digestive tract.

    These patches of inflammation from Crohn’s disease is most common at the end of the small intestine where it connects to the large intestine (called the terminal ileum).

    The inflammation from Crohn’s disease goes deep. Compared with ulcerative colitis, which affects only the mucosa layer of the intestine, Crohn’s disease extends from the mucosa to the outer layer — causing severe pain and loss of digestive function.

    Like UC, dysbiosis of the intestinal environment is present with Crohn’s disease. Harmful species of bacteria are able to outcompete healthy gut flora. These harmful bacteria wreak havoc by producing inflammation-inducing metabolites — making symptoms progressively worse over time.

    Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

    How is IBD Diagnosed?

    IBD usually takes three to five months to be diagnosed after the first symptoms appear.

    Doctors consider your medical history, family medical history, physical examinations, lab testing, and medical imaging to confirm their suspicions before making a diagnosis.

    IBD is usually first diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 30 but can remain undiagnosed for years before it’s discovered. Symptoms are often subtle and hard to notice until the disease progresses.

    What Causes IBD?

    The causes of both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are still not well understood.

    However, four environmental factors have been shown to impact the genes of people predisposed to the condition — this means that certain environmental factors can trigger the condition.

    Four Factors That May Trigger IBD:

    1. Smoking
    2. Diet low in fiber and high saturated fats
    3. Bacterial gut infection
    4. Low vitamin D levels [4]

    Inflammation is a problem in both UC and Crohn’s disease. Therefore, it makes sense that all the above risk factors either cause inflammation directly or cause dysbiosis in the gut. This imbalance of the bacterial population then leads to inflammation, leaky gut syndrome, and even more inflammation.

    Genetics play a large role since our genes determine our immune system, and our immune system determines our gut flora. This is why certain people are more at risk than others to develop IBD.

    If you add poor lifestyle choices or stress to the mix, it further increases the chances of developing IBD [5].

    How is IBD Treated?

    The 5 “R’s” Of Healing Inflammatory Bowel Disease

    CBD products fit into the third and fourth points:

    1. Remove foods that trigger a reaction.
    2. Reduce inflammation and excessive immune response.
    3. Repair the intestinal lining by supporting microbiome health.
    4. Restore the function of the intestinal lining.
    5. Repletion of vitamins and minerals that are not adequately absorbed through the damaged intestine.

    The most recent evidence of CBD’s benefits to inflammatory bowel diseases is focused on reducing inflammation, — which in turn helps to repair the gut lining and restore the health of the intestinal environment.

    Here, we’ll explain how CBD works and why IBD sufferers consider using CBD to address their most debilitating side effects.

    Supporting IBD With Dietary Changes

    The primary goal here is to restore the gut microbiome, allowing beneficial bacteria to thrive instead of harmful ones.

    Dietary Changes For IBD May Include:

    • Increasing fiber intake
    • Eating more fruits and vegetables
    • Lowering saturated fat consumption
    • Eating more anti-inflammatory foods

    Lifestyle Modifications For IBD

    Stress and lack of exercise are closely linked with IBD symptoms since both affect immune function. Performing regular movement (circulating more lymph fluid) and stress reduction techniques like meditation reduce the intensity of flare-ups.

    Lifestyle Modifications May Include:

    • Daily exercise
    • Yoga and meditation
    • Getting more sun exposure (to build up vitamin D levels)
    • Ensure at least eight hours of sleep each night
    • Identify and eliminate stress triggers

    Prescription IBD Medications

    The Main Types of Medications Given for IBD Include:

    • Antispasmodics — such as dicyclomine, reduces spasms of the intestinal muscles. These spasms are what cause pain and discomfort for those suffering from IBD.
    • Antidepressants —tricyclic antidepressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are often used to treat IBD. The former is better for diarrhea-predominant IBD and the latter for constipation-predominant IBD.
    • Antibiotics — there are some studies that showed that taking the antibiotic Rifaximin reduced the severity of symptoms in some patients [6].
    • Fecal Transplant — feces donated from a healthy individual is transplanted into the colon of an individual suffering from IBD. This process introduces healthy bacteria into the IBD-affected intestines [7].

    What Is CBD?

    CBD (cannabidiol) is the primary non-psychoactive compound in the marijuana plant (Cannabis sativa). It works by acting on the endocannabinoid system — a series of receptors that form a communication pathway throughout the nervous and immune systems.

    Research has identified two main types of endocannabinoid receptors — the CB1 and CB2 receptors [8]:

    1. CB1 receptors are located in the mucosal lining and neuromuscular layer of the colon [9].
    2. CB2 receptors are found on cells of the immune system [10].

    Endocannabinoid receptors are found throughout the nervous system, either in the brain or on the cells that regulate neuron activity. This is why there is so much interest in using phytocannabinoids to treat any neurologically-related issues, including IBD.

    The nervous system is the regulatory system that allows the brain to “talk” the other body systems. Understanding how the ECS works will allow us to take advantage of certain pathways and block unwanted symptoms and/or debilitating issues [12].

    Let’s look more closely at why CBD should be included in the management of IBD.

    Tips For Using CBD For IBD

    Step 1: Source A High-Quality Full-Spectrum CBD Oil, Capsule, or Suppository

    CBD comes in many different forms — so there’s a product for everybody.

    If you don’t mind swallowing capsules, these are an excellent option for people with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

    CBD oil is another good option as it’s easy to measure individual doses, takes a long time to break down in the intestinal tract (ensuring it reaches the target area), and has a very long shelf-life.

    Suppositories are also a good option but can be uncomfortable to use. These are best for IBD affecting the colon specifically (the last section of the digestive tract before leaving the body).

    Always follow the directions on the packaging when using CBD suppositories.

    For More Information on Finding the Best CBD Products, Check Out Some of Our Guides:
    1. CBD Oils — Best for all-purpose CBD use
    2. CBD Capsules — Best option if taking other supplements or medications at the same time
    3. CBD Suppositories — Best for inflammation in the large intestine (delivers CBD directly to the source)

    Step 2: Assess Optimal Starting Dosage

    Dosing CBD can be a challenge for first-time users. You can use our CBD dosing guide to assess the daily dose of CBD based on desired strength and weight (see chart below).

    When using CBD for the first time, we recommend taking the smallest recommended dose and building up slowly over a week. This is a wise thing to do when starting any new supplement to see how it affects you.

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