CBD And Your Microbiome
If you follow the latest wellness trends, you’ve probably noticed a lot of talk about the importance of feeding our gut bacteria for a healthy body and mind. Probiotics, pre-biotics, and fermented foods are super hot these days. Why?
At least 90% of the living cells in our bodies actually aren’t ‘human’, but belong to the microbes that live on and within us. Of the approximately 38,000,000,000,000 (38 trillion) microorganisms in our bodies, the majority are located in our gut.
This vast ecosystem of little beings is known as the microbiome, a microscopic ecosystem of interconnected life forms transforming nutrients from one form to another, fundamentally influencing all aspects of our health — including even the brain.
This is why some are calling the gut our “second brain.” In some circles it’s even considered our first brain — since it’s far more ancient than the advanced parts of the human brain, and its influences on the rest of the body are profound.
Turns out that the gut and brain actually communicate with each other, mostly via the crucial highway of the vagus nerve, but also via the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). With cannabis and hemp becoming more popular in the holistic wellness movement, this discovery couldn’t have come at a more potent time.
The Gut: Gateway to You
Your gut microbiome affects your immune system, genetic expression, weight, mental and emotional health – essentially who we are and how we show up in the world.
The digestive tract and its vast population of microbes is a portal into the center of our being — literally, the gatekeeper between self and not-self — and it influences every aspect of the bodymind.
When it’s out of balance we can easily lose our connection to our innate self and intuitive gut sense. (This is why gut health is a primary key to the wellness counseling work I do, as it is a foundational access point for far-reaching healing and connection.)
Cannabinoids: Mind-Body Connectors
New research on the endocannabinoid system is also uncovering that there is a vital link between the ECS and gut health.
The ECS’s receptors are highly concentrated in the brain, gut, and pelvis, all working together to maintain homeostasis throughout the body. Researchers are finding evidence that the ECS is actually a major link between the gut and the brain, enabling them to communicate with each other.
The endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating food intake — especially fat intake — as well as digestive motility, nausea, intestinal inflammation, gut permeability, cancer cell proliferation, and complex interactions with probiotic bacteria of the intestines .
Supporting the ECS with phytocannabinoids from cannabis or hemp is showing promise for those suffering from a variety of conditions, including IBS, IBD, autoimmune conditions, cancer, and more.
In rats, fasting increases the small intestine’s production of the endocannabinoid anandamide (known as the “bliss molecule” for its powerful effect on mood). With at least 70% of our serotonin being produced in the gut (not the brain), and plenty of research showing that gut microbial balance influences mood and mental health , we are sure to discover even more powerful links between the ECS, gut and brain in the near future.
At this point we know that the ECS affects the digestive system in the following ways.
- Regulating Digestion : Intestinal motility is the coordinated, rhythmic transit of food moving from the esophagus to the stomach to the intestines to the anus, which ensures that nutrients have proper time to be absorbed. Several plant-based cannabinoids stimulate the CB1 receptor, which calms nausea, helps halt tumor growth, slows stomach emptying, improves nutrient absorption, and reduces stomach acid. Strong stimulation of the CB1 receptor will also make us hungry, aka “getting the munchies.”
- Modulating Inflammation : It turns out that the ECS plays a critical role in protecting the gut from inflammation, and both CB1 and CB2 receptors modulate inflammatory responses when stimulated by certain cannabinoids. Inflammation is increasingly implicated in depression , but that inflammation isn’t just in the brain. When we see inflammation and permeability in the gut, we often also find inflammation in the brain and permeability with the blood brain barrier, so calming the fire in the gut can help improve mental power, nutrient absorption and assimilation, and all bodily processes.
- Bridging communication with the brain : The ECS is a two-way communication link between our gut and brain. Stress or pain registered in the brain communicates to the gut and affects gut function (ie butterflies or nervous belly), just as inflammation and imbalances in the gut communicate and alter our mental and emotional balance and expression.
So nourishing our gut and supporting our ECS in tandem could be a profound gateway to healing and finding more balance in body and mind. The influential cannabis researcher Ethan Russo writes, “it is increasingly apparent that proper dietary choices encompassing prebiotic vegetables and fermented foods may play important roles in future therapeutics targeting the ECS.”
These are exciting times to see science talking about the benefits of pre- and probiotic-rich foods as therapeutic tools, looking beyond isolated drug compounds, and moving towards a more whole-istic and root-cause approach to supporting wellbeing via the endocannabinoid system.
We’re moving back to the roots in so many ways. Feeding and supporting gut integrity and balance, supports the endocannabinoid system, and vice versa — helping to balance body systems for greater homeostasis and less dis-ease.
Lifestyle Tips for Gut & ECS Balance
How can we support our gut-brain connection via our endocannabinoid system?
- Get Cultured : Eat cultured foods daily, like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, natto, tempeh, miso, kvass, etc., or at the very least take a quality broad-spectrum probiotic supplement, like Seed or Megasporebiotic, daily. Cultured foods are packed with pre- and probiotics, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and are more powerful than any commercial supplement (many of which are low quality). Probiotics help support a balanced ecology in our microbiome, decreasing pathogens and inflammation, and Lactobacillus Acidophilus in particular modulates the ECS in the gut.
- Fat as essential fuel : Essential fatty acids are the building blocks of endocannabinoids, so consuming healthy fats daily is needed to efficiently utilize cannabinoids and support this system as well as our brain, hormones, and every body cell. Examples include a quality omega-3 fish oil, wild fatty fish like sardines and anchovies, raw nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oil, grassfed ghee, and coconut oil. Slather it on, baby.
- Cannabinoid & terpene-rich foods and herbs: like dark chocolate (organic and fair trade of course), black truffle, black pepper, clove, cinnamon, oregano, basil, lavender, and rosemary. Jazz up your cooking or make teas with these herbs. Cruciferous veggies (like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage) contain indole-3-carbinol which turns into DIM in the gut, supporting CB2 receptors (think gut and hormone balance, detoxification, anti-inflammatory).
- Mastering the nervous system & managing stress : supplementing with quality broad or full spectrum hemp as an oil, tincture, vape pen, etc. – whatever delivery works best for you – to regulate your busy mind, destress and unwind. Daily self-care practices like unplugging from your phone for an hour or more to take a bath, read, write, be in nature, make love, create, breathe. The gut is an integral part of our nervous system, and stress increases gut permeability, inflammation, motility, and even changes our gut microbiota. Committing to the tools and allies that work for you, to slow down and connect to your own daily self-care, is a must and not just a buzzword.
- Other herbal allies : dandelion root tea, burdock, ginger, turmeric, peppermint, and digestive bitters before or after meals are incredible allies for soothing our gut, reducing inflammation and pathogens, and supporting a healthy ecosystem for smooth digestion and elimination of toxins.
So we love your guts, and we hope you’ll show love to them too – by choosing some gut-nourishing pre- and probiotic rich foods, boosting your omega-3s, and weaving in whole plant herbal allies to support you in gut, body, and mind.
- Russo, Ethan B. “Cannabis Therapeutics and the Future of Neurology.” Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience , Frontiers Media S.A., 18 Oct. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6200872/ .
- Russo, Ethan B. “Beyond Cannabis: Plants and the Endocannabinoid System.” Trends in Pharmacological Sciences , Cell Press, Vol 37, No 7, Elsevier Ltd., July 2016.
- Bauer, Brent. “How the Endocannabinoid System Connects Your Gut and Your Brain.” Thorne, 10 Oct. 2018, www.thorne.com/take-5-daily/article/how-the-endocannabinoid-system-connects-your-gut-and-your-brain .
- Izzo, Angelo A, and Keith A Sharkey. “Cannabinoids and the Gut: New Developments and Emerging Concepts.” Pharmacology & Therapeutics , U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20117132 . Full article via http://www.advancedholistichealth.org/PDF_Files/endocannabinoid%20system%20in%20GI%20disease.pdf
- DiPatrizio, Nicholas V. “Endocannabinoids in the Gut.” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research , Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., 1 Feb. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940133/ .
- Hasenoehrl, Carina, et al. “Cannabinoids for Treating Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Where Are We and Where Do We Go?” Expert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology , Taylor & Francis, 3 Apr. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28276820 .
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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.