How Does CBD Help Those With Gut Inflammation And Other GI Conditions?
Find out in this Q&A with Simply Gluten Free Magazine and Dr. Aimée Gould Shunney, a naturopathic physician who blends conventional medical diagnosis and treatment with the use of natural therapeutics like dietary and lifestyle counseling, nutritional supplements, and herbal medicine. She specializes in women’s health, bio-identical hormone balancing, sexual medicine, and functional digestive issues. She is a Medical Advisor to CV Sciences, makers of PlusCBD Oil™ products.
Q: First, explain briefly what the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is in the human body and why that’s important to understand.
A: In the late 80s, scientists discovered that we have cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) in every organ system of the human body, and soon after in the early 90s, they found that we make our own cannabis-like compounds, endocannabinoids (ECs), and enzymes to produce and degrade them. Put all those elements together, and you have the ECS – a ‘new’ system in the body, just as important as our nervous system or our digestive system. It helps us respond to stress by modulating endocrine function, regulating “fight or flight”, and supporting a healthy inflammation/immune response.
It’s essential to understand the ECS if you want to understand how CBD works. CBD works by balancing and supporting the ECS through its subtle effects on CB1 and CB2 receptors, as well as other receptors that modulate serotonin, GABA, dopamine, and many that impact behavior and inflammation. That is why CBD has so many potential applications.
Q: How can CBD help the gut?
A: The ECS is an avid participant in normal gut function. The exact mechanisms of action are still being defined, but some areas of particular interest to me clinically are the ECS’ effects on gastrointestinal motility disorders, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and gut permeability.
CBD is an immune modulator and a potent anti-inflammatory agent. In addition, it helps to balance the ECS, and therefore has tremendous potential to positively impact a variety of digestive complaints.
It’s interesting to note that deficiencies in the ECS are associated with pathological states including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colorectal cancer, and celiac disease. Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency syndromes (CEDS) may be improved with CBD because it prevents the breakdown of our ECs, prolonging their action. In fact, this is one of the main mechanisms of action of CBD.
Let’s not forget the role of stress and anxiety when it comes to digestion! Most of us know that stress exacerbates our gut, and managing stress is crucial to keeping symptoms at bay. CBD has been shown to promote stress resilience and decrease anxiety, adding to its powerful role in gut function.
Q: Can you say more about gut motility issues and CBD?
A: Gut motility is the term given to the stretching and contractions of the muscles in the GI tract. When nerves or muscles in any portion of the GI tract don’t function with their normal strength and coordination, a person develops symptoms like diarrhea, constipation (or both), cramping, bloating, etc. IBS is a motility issue, as is SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), and to a certain extent IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). The ECS plays an important role in modulating intestinal contractility. CBD may be able to support healthy motility through its ability to dampen overstimulation at the CB1 receptors and its indirect effects on the CB2 receptors, creating better endocannabinoid tone. In addition, CBD impacts the enteric nervous system (‘the brain below’) via serotonin receptors that are key mediators of motility, secretion, and pain sensation. Also, studies have shown that CBD can reduce chemical-induced hypermotility in mice.
Q: More specifically, what does CBD do for gut inflammation, like IBD (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis)?
A: The ECS is involved in so many areas of gut health, from motility to visceral sensation to inflammation, it is no surprise that there has already been some early success in mouse models of IBD by treating with substances that inhibit endocannabinoid breakdown. The good news is that CBD does this, it’s safe, and readily available!
Q: Can CBD help leaky gut?
A: Cannabinoid receptors along the small intestine have been shown to modulate the expression of tight junctions that are in part responsible for maintaining gut integrity. Moreover, we now know that there is crosstalk between the ECS and the gut microbiota which impacts leaky gut. As a matter of fact, it appears that treatment with certain probiotic strains have been shown to increase the expression of CB2 receptors along the small intestine, which can support function! Additionally, CBD and other phytocannabinoids have been shown to support a healthy inflammatory response that is essential to heal leaky gut.
Q: What amount of CBD is most often used for treating inflammation in the gut?
A: We still need more human data in order to determine exact dosing. In my practice, I start with 15-25mg of CBD in a full spectrum hemp extract at bedtime. Assuming they tolerate that, I begin to see if we can add an equal dose in the morning without any sedation. Dose will vary based on individual tolerance and symptoms. For some patients, one dose at night works well. For others, twice a day dosing does the trick. Others may need 50mg 1-2x/day, especially with severe illness. Safety data is excellent with CBD, so there’s lots of room to find the ‘magic dose’. You can’t go wrong if you start low and go slow.
Q: How does a person know how to choose a CBD product for their particular ailment? What should they look for in a brand and product?
A: I recommend looking for products that list hemp oil (aerial plant parts) as an ingredient with the amount of naturally occurring CBD on its supplements facts panel. Also, it is important to choose products where the company can offer documentation of full traceability from seed to shelf. Hemp-Derived CBD is available in independent health food stores nationwide and online.
I generally choose CBD from hemp because I like knowing that there is not enough THC or particular terpenes to cause intoxicating effects. Legally, hemp products must have less than 1% THC in the finished product. In addition, hemp is full of all kinds of beneficial constituents like, flavonoids, essential fats, plant sterols, vitamin E, chlorophyll and terpenes. Hemp products use every part of the plant that grows above ground, so they have a much broader array of phytonutrients than cannabis products that come from the flower only (where THC is richest). This is why I choose full spectrum hemp extracts with CBD over CBD isolates, in my practice.
Q: What products from PlusCBD Oil™ do you recommend to people with gut issues?
A: I tend to use either the PlusCBD Oil™ Total Plant Complex (green) Capsules or PlusCBD Oil™ Gold Softgels. Both would be a nice addition for overall digestive support. Start low, go slow and make sure you discuss the use of hemp extracts with your primary caregiver.
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CBD for Gut Health: How This Powerful Oil Affects Your GI Tract
Have you heard of your “second brain?” When you consider all that happens in the gastrointestinal (GI) system, you begin to understand why it carries this label. Most people believe the GI system, or gut, only digests food. However, it does much more. Because of all the gut does for your body, it’s essential that you take care of it. And CBD for gut health may be a new way to accomplish this.
Digestive issues make up some of the most common disorders in the world. They affect a large percentage of the population. When these issues become severe, they open the door to other significant health issues. Keeping your digestive system healthy, on the other hand, increases the chances of living a healthy life.
Your Gut Microbiome
Your gut contains the microbiome, a collection of trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that all live in balance inside your body. One part of the job this microbiome carries out is the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients. In addition to this, it produces the vast majority of neurotransmitters used by your body. Also, it regulates cognitive and physiological processes daily, including the immune system.
As long as this vast collection of microbes stays in balance, everything works well in the rest of your body. However, an imbalance, called dysbiosis, can occur and lead to significant health problems. This is one reason CBD for gut health assumes such importance.
The importance of good gut health comes to the fore when considering heart disease, also. Good gut health helps your heart by increasing the level of HDL cholesterol. Hardening of the arteries can come from poor gut health. When arteries harden, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases.
Also, poor gut health and the increase in bad bacteria may lead to obesity. This, in turn, can lead to heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. Some of the bad bacteria in the gut can produce substances like trimethylamine N-oxide (or TMAO) that can block arteries and bring on a stroke. At least one study has shown that a healthy gut helped in preventing coronary artery disease.
In addition, your gut health influences your mental health. The vagus nerve transmits information from the brain to the gut and vice versa. The good bacteria in the gut produce serotonin, one of the major neurotransmitters that influence mental health. When the bacteria in your gut remain balanced, the gut can decrease depression and anxiety.
Once again, you see the possible benefits of successfully using CBD for gut health.
CBD and THC
Both of these substances come from the cannabis plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, gives marijuana its psychoactive properties. It gives the “high” that is associated with marijuana use.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is another of the 120 phytocannabinoids that come from the cannabis plant. CBD contains a similar chemical formation to the endocannabinoids that exist naturally in your body.
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in your body to help the digestive, immune, and nervous systems. One thing CBD does that benefits you involves inhibiting the breakdown of neurotransmitters to allow the ECS to function appropriately.
Another difference between THC and CBD occurs in the way they fill in CB1 and CB2 receptors. THC binds directly to receptors. On the other hand, CBD binds with these receptors indirectly.
In addition, CBD prevents the FAAH enzyme from breaking down anandamide, an endocannabinoid neurotransmitter. Anandamide helps regulate mood, appetite, sleep, and memory, among other things.
Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The ECS is a natural part of your body. It influences and regulates many functions of your body including immunity, pain, sleep, brain function, metabolism, memory, and digestion. It accomplishes these tasks through binding with CB1 and CB2 receptors. The CB1 receptors exist mostly in the brain and nervous system. CB2 receptors exist in the large intestine, small intestine, and immune system.
To a great extent, the ECS maintains balance in your body leading to optimal health. This is one more reason for the importance of CBD for gut health.
How CBD for Gut Health Helps
When you consider the benefits of CBD for gut health, the presence of cannabinoid receptors comes to mind. Their presence benefits your health because when your gut becomes imbalanced and a state of dysbiosis exists, it affects every system of your body. The ripple effect of dysbiosis affects all parts of your body from the immune system to your mood. CBD may help correct imbalances in your gut, bringing better health to your body.
The mechanism by which the benefits of CBD for gut health come about involves two factors: inflammation and the immune system.
Whatever issue you face with your gut, inflammation likely plays a role. When inflammation occurs in any part of the GI system, a large range of symptoms can result. Lack of absorption of nutrients can lead to malnutrition. Diarrhea can result in dehydration and fatigue.
Research indicates CBD helps to reduce inflammation throughout your system. One example comes from the stomach, where CBD decreases the sensitivity of the capsaicin receptor. This receptor triggers inflammation in the mucous membranes of the gut. It is responsible for the burning sensation so many people experience after eating spicy foods.
Another benefit of CBD for gut health involves improving the immune processes that originate in the gut. Research shows a significant interaction between gut bacteria and the immune system. A major part of the immune system resides in your gut.
In the case of dysbiosis of your gut, your immune system can become hyperactive, generating great amounts of inflammation. CBD dampens the hyperactive immune response. This not only reduces inflammation but also improves the immune system’s handling of toxins and allergens.
Reduction of Stress
Reducing stress also occurs as a benefit of CBD for gut health. Because of the constant two-way communication between the gut and brain, this becomes a great benefit. Stress alters movement and contraction of the gut. This increases inflammation and makes you more at risk for infections and decreased immune response.
Adrenal Fatigue and Your Stress Response
Adrenal fatigue occurs when your adrenal glands become overburdened by the demand for cortisol when your body comes under stress. Stress from any source can trigger this process. Cortisol, the stress-fighting hormone, works to deal with the effects of stress. If stress becomes chronic and severe, the demand on your adrenals for more cortisol may become too much for them to meet. This begins Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). At first, the symptoms of AFS may present as too vague for conventional lab tests to pick up. However, as the condition progresses these symptoms can become debilitating.
The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response describes another aspect of your body’s attempt to handle stress. Once the adrenals become overwhelmed, this system becomes activated. Six circuits of three organs or organ systems make up this response. These circuits overlap to an extent and interact when stress hits. Their main goal remains to keep your body functioning optimally even in the face of stress. However, should the stress become great enough, these circuits become dysfunctional, resulting in significant symptoms.
How CBD for Gut Health Affects Your Inflammation Circuit
The Inflammation circuit of the NEM activates early on when stress hits your body. Your immune system, gut, and microbiome make up the three organs of this circuit.
When this circuit becomes dysfunctional the gut goes through significant changes. The single layer of epithelial cells making up the lining of the gut usually has tight junctions between the cells, limiting permeability. Stress affects this lining by making these junctions looser. This allows access to your bloodstream by undigested food particles, viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
When these substances get into your bloodstream, your immune system begins identifying them as foreign invaders of your system and therefore as a threat. This begins the increase of inflammation to find and destroy these substances. The potential for the immune system to become hyperactive rises as more of these substances cross the gut barrier. A hyperactive immune response can lead to autoimmune conditions.
Stress also negatively affects the microbiome. The dysbiosis resulting from increased stress can lead to an imbalance of bacteria in the microbiome. Such an imbalance leads to small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease.
CBD and the Gut Barrier
One of the ways CBD for gut health can help in this situation involves CBD’s ability to strengthen and protect the gut barrier. The crossing of this barrier by lipopolysaccharides (LPS) works to trigger the endocannabinoid system. This can then lead to metabolic endotoxemia.
When the ECS becomes triggered in this situation, it can be overactive, and this may lead to increased permeability of the gut barrier. CBD works to counter this effect. The ECS works in a biphasic manner. If the ECS doesn’t work well enough, it serves to allow the breakdown of the gut barrier. On the other hand, if the ECS works too well, the same result occurs. CBD for gut health works to maintain the functioning of the ECS at an optimal level.
CBD for gut health also helps to relieve the pain felt with some of the conditions brought on by dysbiosis of the gut and microbiome. Ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease all contain a component of pain.
CBD for Inflammation
Inflammation makes up a large part of any GI tract issue. CBD works to decrease the level of inflammation in your system, thereby helping with the healing of your gut.
The bidirectional communication between your gut and brain leads to mental health issues when dysbiosis of the gut exists. CBD helps to re-balance the bacteria in your gut, resolving the issue of dysbiosis. In this way, it also helps resolve mental health issues.
Regarding how CBD for gut health can help people who suffer from AFS, all of the above factors provide help. In addition, CBD can help alleviate stress overall, bringing broad relief to those suffering from stress-influenced AFS symptoms.
Conclusion Regarding CBD for Gut Health
CBD for gut health appears to bring about a number of benefits for your GI system. It serves to aid in digestion and thus improve the absorption of vital nutrients. In addition, it works to strengthen the gut barrier and prevent or remediate leaky gut. It also helps with boosting the functioning of the immune system and decreasing levels of inflammation.
CBD works to balance the microbiome, thereby helping to alleviate mental health issues as well. Overall, CBD serves to decrease the effects of stress, thereby helping those who suffer from AFS in a broad way.
More specifically, CBD for gut health helps reduce the symptoms of conditions such as Crohn’s disease. This reduces the stress on the microbiome and gut as well. CBD’s ability to lower inflammation levels also helps relieve the pain and inflammation associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
In addition, CBD also works to balance the functioning of your naturally-occurring endocannabinoid system. This system affects all aspects of your health.
What Can About Gut Problems?
If you are suffering from gut problems here are a few things you can try to alleviate the situation:
- Eat different types of food, especially a variety of fibers, vegetables, and fruits.
- Consume prebiotic fibers and take probiotics.
- Eat more foods that are fermented such as yogurt and sauerkraut and that contain healthy bacteria.
- Decrease the use of antibiotics. Certainly, take antibiotics if they’re medically necessary, but be sure to avoid overuse. Antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria and can contribute to dysbiosis.
Whatever action you decide to take, please do so with the guidance of your healthcare provider who will assess your needs and discuss options with you.
If you would like to know more about or need assistance with gut problems and the potentials of CBD for gut health, the team at Dr. Lam Coaching can help. We offer a free** no-obligation phone consultation at +1-626-571-1234 where we will privately discuss your symptoms and various options. You can also send us a question through our Ask The Doctor system by clicking here.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
What is one major benefit of CBD for gut health?
A major benefit of CBD for gut health is its ability to close the loose junctions between the epithelial cells in the lining of the stomach. Closing these loose junctions helps bring a hyperactive immune system under control and decreases inflammation.