How to Use CBD for Crohn’s, Colitis & Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an umbrella term for two major conditions known as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These diseases are characterized by chronic inflammation in all or parts of the digestive tract. According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Cotrol and Prevention, in 2015, an estimated 1.3% of US adults (3 million) reported being diagnosed with IBD (either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis).
The symptoms associated with these gastrointestinal diseases can be extremely uncomfortable and at times, debilitating. These diseases cannot be cured; however, their symptoms are typically managed with immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory drugs. The downside is that these drugs don’t always work and many carry long lists of side-effects—but there is hope! CBD offers an all natural, plant-based remedy for gastrointestinal issues.
In order to gauge the medical efficacy of treating IBD with CBD, we turn to a series of medical studies conducted over the past ten years. The results are addressed below:
A 2008 study suggested that diseases like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are actually caused by an endocannabinoid deficiency in the body. “Migraine, fibromyalgia, IBS and related conditions display common clinical, biochemical and pathophysiological patterns that suggest an underlying clinical endocannabinoid deficiency that may be suitably treated with cannabinoid medicines.”
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18404144
A 2009 study found investigated the effect of CBD in a murine model of colitis. The study results indicate, “In DNBS-induced colitis, cannabidiol reduced colon injury, decreased expression of inflammatory markers and inducible nitric oxide synthase, and decreased reactive oxygen species production…In conclusion, cannabidiol, a likely safe compound, prevents experimental colitis in mice.”
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19690824/
A 2010 study evaluated the effects of CBD and THC (alone and combined) in animal models of colitis. “In conclusion, treatment with THC, CBD and sulphasalazine reduced signs of damage, inflammation and functional disturbances in a rat model of Crohn's disease…CBD on its own also displayed beneficial actions, such as improved spontaneous activity and contractility to carbachol, which extends previous findings (Malfait et al., 2000; Borrelli et al., 2009) and further suggests that this phytocannabinoid, which is devoid of psychoactive properties, could help alleviate symptoms in human IBD. Combined treatment with CBD and THC proved beneficial in TNBS-induced colitis in the rat, as it resulted in additive effects on some functional parameters and as CBD caused an ineffective dose of THC (5 mg·kg−1) to produce beneficial effects of the same magnitude as those produced by a higher dose of THC (10 mg·kg−1) in the absence of CBD. It is possible therefore that the benefit-to-risk ratio may well be greater when CBD and THC are co-administered to ameliorate colitis than when THC is administered alone."
A 2011 study proved that CBD reduces intentinal inflammation in both humans and mice through control of the neuroimmune axis. The study states, “CBD targets enteric reactive gliosis, counteracts the inflammatory environment induced by LPS in mice and in human colonic cultures derived from UC patients. These actions lead to a reduction of intestinal damage mediated by PPARgamma receptor pathway. Our results therefore indicate that CBD indeed unravels a new therapeutic strategy to treat inflammatory bowel diseases.”
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22163000/
A 2012 study concluded that topical and systemic (but not oral) CBD improves colitis in mice. “To summarize, CBD was given via 3 different routes of delivery to mice and its effect on the severity of TNBS colitis was compared. We confirm that CBD given intraperitoneally is protective, and we add that CBD given per rectum also offers protective effects, suggesting that rectal application of cannabinoids for the therapy of intestinal inflammation may be a feasible option.”
A 2013 medical review further substantiated CBD’s potential as an anti inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) drug. “CBD is a very promising compound since it shares the typical cannabinoid beneficial effects on gut lacking any psychotropic effects. For years, its activity has been enigmatic for gastroenterologists and pharmacologists, but now it is evident that this compound may interact at extra-cannabinoid system receptor sites, such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma. This strategic interaction makes CBD as a potential candidate for the development of a new class of anti-IBD drugs.”
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22815234
A 2016 study found that high CBD extracts reduce chemically induced intestinal inflammation and hypermotility in mice. “In conclusion, CBD Botanical Drug Substance (BDS), given after the inflammatory insult, attenuates injury and motility in intestinal models of inflammation. These findings sustain the rationale of combining CBD with other minor Cannabis constituents and support the clinical development of CBD BDS for IBD treatment."
Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27757083/
As indicated by the studies above, CBD has proven to be very effective in treating various types of inflammatory bowel diseases.
Recommended CBD Regimen for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
When formulating a CBD regimen for a specific disease or illness like IBD, it’s important to understand that CBD should be used regularly for maximum relief. Meaning it should be used as a preventative first – it can also be used to manage acute symptom flare ups, but the preventative maintenance is most important! Think about it like any other dietary supplement or medication, you want to establish a baseline concentration in your system.
In order to manage the symptoms associated with various Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, we recommend ingesting full spectrum CBD oil daily in the form of Tinctures or Gel Capsules. The ingredients in the two products are the same; the only difference between the two is the form factor and dosage – pills vs. sublingual tinctures. We suggest those suffering from Crohn's or colitis start with 15mg per day of CBD. If relief is not felt at this dosage, we suggest increasing by 5-10mg until the desired effects are achieved. You’ll notice that the Gel Capsules are pre-filled and contain either 15mg or 25mg of CBD per pill. There is no harm in starting above the 15mg CBD threshold as you cannot overdose on CBD, nor are there any serious side effects. These ingestible products provide sustained symptom relief for several hours – many people find they provide relief for the whole day! The one thing to keep in mind with ingestible CBD products is the delayed onset time – it can take up to 90 minutes for the full effects of the tinctures or capsules to be felt.
Managing Acute Symptom Flare Ups
In addition to the daily IBD management program outlined above, many people find they still need a safe way to manage acute flare ups. Regardless of the triggers, we recommend vaporizing CBD to combat these acute flare ups. The benefit of vaporizing or dabbing CBD is that the relief can be felt almost instantaneously. We suggest either the 99% pure CBD isolate or the pre-filled CBD vaporizer cartridges because they provide a wave of relief that can be felt throughout the whole body.
A Quick Note About CBD & Drug Testing
If drug testing is a part of the conditions of your employment, you might be concerned about the potential of CBD to cause you to test positive for THC. This isn't an unfounded concern -- however, there isn't exactly a cut-and-dry way to answer it.
Much of the data we have about CBD is anecdotal, and its potential impact on drug testing is no exception. There are very few peer-reviewed studies on the subject, and the ones available paint a rather murky picture: avoiding full-spectrum products containing traces of THC can reduce your risk of a false positive, but that may not eliminate the risk entirely.
If you are concerned about passing a drug test, you’ll need to consider this potential risk when deciding whether CBD is right for you. To learn more about the science of CBD and drug testing, check out our article for a more thorough discussion of how to minimize your risk of a false positive.