Cannabis has long been known to stimulate appetite, but as the research dives deeper into the world of marijuana, including cannabinoids other than THC, we are discovering that it may have many applications for our digestive system. In particular, there is evidence suggesting that CBD oil, digestion, and the endocannabinoid system have a complex and interconnected relationship. Could CBD oil for digestion offer medicinal solutions when other conventional pharmaceuticals have failed? 
The basic function of our gastrointestinal system is to slowly move food from the top down, to absorb as many nutrients and vitamins as possible before the remaining waste exits the system. The process of digestion involves a series of slow moving and well-timed contractions that push the food through the stomach and into the gastrointestinal tract (GIT).
When gastrointestinal issues arise, many times they are related to problems with this contraction process, inflammation, or a permeable lining. Common diseases include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn's Disease, and Leaky Gut Syndrome. Unfortunately, the pain triggered by gastrointestinal distress is very complicated, and often difficult to diagnose for proper treatment.
Cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, are a novel possibility for the treatment of digestive issues. Although the research is in its infancy, it is speculated that cannabinoids could be a powerful remedy, because they interact with the cannabinoid receptors concentrated in the brain, stomach, and intestines. These receptors include the CB-1, CB-2 receptors, and serotonin receptors. The CB-1 receptor, in particular, has been found to regulate nausea and vomiting, stomach acid regulation and protection from stomach acid. 
It is worth exploring THC and CBD oil for digestion. With further study, patients are hopeful for clarity on which cannabinoids are helpful, for what digestive disorder, and in what dosage. Although many people are already using cannabinoids on a self-prescribed basis, further research could help legitimize their choice of treatment. Can cannabis aid pain management for Crohn's disease, or can using CBD oil for leaky gut improve intestinal motility? It remains to be seen in the exploratory research.
More robust clinical studies are called for, yet the current body of evidence is already compelling. It demonstrates, mainly through animal studies, that CBD oil for digestion helps alleviate gastrointestinal inflammation. Considering most gastrointestinal diseases are intricately linked with chronic inflammation, inflammation is already the primary target of many conventional irritable bowel therapies.
As mentioned, the endocannabinoid system is a new and exciting therapeutic target for gastrointestinal issues. According to the authors of a recentin-vitro study exploring CBD for gut inflammation, “CBD [Botanical Drug Substance], given after the inflammatory insult, attenuates injury and motility in intestinal models of inflammation.” Through their research with laboratory mice, they presented results demonstrating decreased inflammation and intestinal motility following dosage of whole-plant CBD.
Leaky gut syndrome describes what happens when our thin digestive barrier stops functioning properly. A healthy digestive tract is lined with a mucus barrier, which absorbs nutrients and at the same time, prevents larger particles from escaping into the rest of the body.
If this mucus barrier is compromised, by illness, inflammation, or even food allergies, it starts to allow these larger particles through. While it may not always trigger more severe health issues, in some cases permeability can lead to increased pain, irritation and inflammation if left untreated. Plus, there is a reduction in the ability to absorb nutrients. Leaky gut syndrome is interlinked with other chronic digestive issues like IBD, Crohn’s disease and IBS.
In very preliminary research, scientists set out to determine if cannabinoids like CBD, could influence gut permeability. The researchers noted, “Activation of cannabinoid receptors decreases emesis, inflammation, gastric acid secretion, and intestinal motility.” Could this prove the healing properties of CBD oil, and leaky gut as one of the conditions it can improve? 
While their findings, all conducted in a laboratory setting, represent only the earliest phases of discovery, they concluded that “plant-derived cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, may have therapeutic potential in conditions associated with abnormally permeable intestinal epithelium.” Or, in layman's terms, CBD and THC could potentially improve leaky gut syndrome, given more study into their results. 
Furthermore, in the preliminary data, THC-heavy strains of cannabis and CBD oil seem to have an important role to play in the management of IBD (inflammatory bowel diseases). For example, one preclinical study determined that CBD protects against intestinal inflammation. Anotherin vitro study suggested that CBD supports a healthy intestinal barrier. For those suffering from IBD, finding natural ways to improve the impermeability of the intestinal barrier is crucial.
According to the data collected by a 2016 paper titled “Therapeutic Use of Cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease,” a significant portion of people suffering from IBD already rely on complementary and alternative medicine to improve their symptoms and get their condition under control. The researchers note, after a review of the literature, that as cannabis gains more public exposure, it is becoming an increasingly popular alternative treatment of IBD.
Obviously, more research is required, as especially Crohn’s Disease and CBD use is associated with less pain, but worse disease prognosis in one clinical survey. Caution for its sole use is advised. Yet, the theory linking CBD oil, digestion and chronic inflammation is interesting, to say the least. 
One of the most frustrating and severe bowel diseases, Crohn’s disease, is challenging to manage. In a small, retrospective, observational study, researchers discovered that CBD and other cannabis treatments might benefit those suffering from the disease. In this study, patients already relying on cannabis to manage symptoms were interviewed about their experiences. Researchers concluded that cannabis was able to efficiently treat Crohn’s disease, “as reflected by the reduction in disease activity index and in the need for other drugs and surgery.” 
Despite the relatively early stages of research on CBD oil for digestion, people with many forms of digestive issues have taken treatment into their own hands. If the online reports are anything to go by, people are finding relief from numerous symptoms associated with gastrointestinal diseases. This, where other drugs had proven ineffective. It’s common to read that people use a mixture of THC for pain, and CBD for inflammation and other challenging digestive issues like bloating. When used in conjunction, people report getting their lives back after having their symptoms under control. There is hope that soon more definitive research into CBD oil, digestion, and chronic inflammation will be done. 
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/24625
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