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CBD for Colitis: Can Colitis Symptoms Be Managed with CBD?

Suffering from colitis is nobody's idea of a walk in the park. Most people with colitis suffer with it for years, going through endless cycles of pain and remission because no real cure is known.

Medical treatment of colitis can be managed with a combination of lifestyle control and a few medications that help with the symptoms, but for most, it is a condition you live with for a lifetime.

This is one of the reasons many people with colitis are looking to CBD oil with curiosity and hope. Because colitis is primarily a disorder of inflammation and pain, CBD holds promise as it has been used with success to manage other chronic conditions that manifest mainly as inflammation and pain. Arthritis, for example, shares many lifestyle management methods with colitis and many arthritis patients have found relief in CBD.

Which begs the question—

Can CBD Be Used to Manage Colitis?

Many people who suffer from colitis and related conditions like Crohn's Disease have found relief when adding CBD to a healthy lifestyle and careful use of the select medications used to treat symptoms or encourage remission.

We are here today to explain everything you need to know about how CBD reacts with colitis, the potential benefits of CBD for colitis, and how to approach trying CBD for the first time to possibly help manage your colitis symptoms.

Benefits of Using CBD Oil for Colitis

We'll dive into the details in just a moment. But to be incredibly clear: CBD may only help reduce the symptoms of colitis. It has not been found to promote remission, but it has been found to ease both pain and inflammation which could ipso facto be helpful during a colitis flare-up.

The benefits of using CBD oil for colitis symptoms can include:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Reducing abdominal pain
  • Increasing comfort and quality of life
  • Increasing appetite or ability to eat

What is Colitis?

We like to start at the beginning, so let's begin with defining exactly what colitis means. Colitis is a chronic digestive disease in which the inner lining of your large intestine (colon) is inflamed and painful. It can be caused by a number of conditions and often relates to an increased unhealthy permeability of the intestine walls. Colitis has been known by many names, or referred to interchangeably by the names of related conditions. It is sometimes referred to as IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) or associated with Crohn's disease; in reality both Crohn's and Colitis are variants of IBD. Ulcerative colitis is another common variant of colitis in which ulcers/sores form in addition to the inflammation, which is acutely painful.

Symptoms of Colitis

Colitis is best identified by a combination of symptoms. Here are the most common symptoms of colitis:

  • Intense abdominal and lower abdominal pain
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Extreme and constant fatigue
  • Increased need to use the bathroom
  • Excreting mucus
  • Unpredictable diarrhea or constipation
  • Joint pains
  • Depression
  • Fever

Lifestyle Impact of Colitis

People who suffer from colitis often have difficulty eating due to discomfort and are constantly tired because the intestine is not properly absorbing nutrients. Even if your doctor is making sure that you are not suffering from infections, it can be difficult to live a normal life between intense discomfort in digestion and unpredictable bathroom urgency.

Pain is a constant part of life during colitis flare-ups and there is often little to predict the difference between remission and flare-up other than the usual health and stress triggers that relate to many chronic illnesses.

Each person manages colitis differently with medicines and lifestyle choices. Some of the medications include Azulfidine, Lialda, and Dipentum.

But often, those with colitis look for ways to decrease the medication and their potential side effects of rashes, vomiting, headaches, and increased colitis symptoms like abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.

CBD poses none of these side-effects, so it may be highly beneficial in reducing the amount of harsh colitis medication needed to manage symptoms. As always, speak with your doctor about CBD.

What Is CBD?

CBD is not quite an acronym. It stands for the plant-based compound cannabidiol which occurs naturally in the cannabis plant. CBD is a compound that has been found to influence how the body responds to pain, inflammation, and stress. It does this by interacting with the endocannabinoid system in the body which controls these functions and more.

Derived from Hemp – Minimal to Zero THC

To clear up a common confusion, CBD is derived from hemp plants, not cultivated marijuana. Industrial hemp plants are bred to contain less than 0.3% THC which is the psychoactive compound. CBD will not get you “high” and it will not make you feel psychoactive. Some CBD (full-spectrum) products have trace amounts of THC that are natural in the hemp plant, but no more than 0.3%. All other forms (isolate and broad-spectrum) contain no THC at all.

Cannabinoid Receptors and What They Do

The human body has a natural system called the endocannabinoid system that processes cannabinoids, of which there are 113 variants in the natural hemp plant. The human body also produces cannabinoids, which function as neurotransmitters. These control how your body responds to neurological signals and handles immune-like reactions.

There are two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. THC interacts with the CB1 receptors and creates the “high” sensation. CBD on the other hand is not at all psychoactive; it interacts with CB2 which  influences things like pain perception, inflammation control, and your ability to feel relaxed.

Isolate, Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum CBD

There are three different forms of CBD oil that are used to create the various ways that people take CBD: CBD isolate, full spectrum CBD, and broad spectrum CBD. Whether you're looking into CBD tinctures, CBD edibles, or CBD capsules, these three will be options among the products and brands.

CBD Isolate

  • Isolate is pure CBD oil with all other 113 cannabinoids (including THC) fully removed.
  • Purest form of CBD
  • Most expensive to produce due to the refinement process

Full Spectrum CBD

  • Full spectrum CBD oil has been extracted from the hemp plant and has not been separated into individual compounds.
  • Entourage effect provides synergistic benefits as the cannabinoids work together in the endocannabinoid system.
  • Contains trace amounts of THC among other cannabinoids and terpenes
  • Least expensive to produce due to simple refinement process

Broad Spectrum CBD

  • Broad spectrum CBD is full spectrum extract that has had only the THC removed.
  • Entourage effect from all other cannabinoids besides THC
  • In the middle for production expense due to mild refinement process

Summary of CBD Oil Benefits for Colitis:

CBD has anti-inflammatory and pain-management effects, both of which are important for managing the symptoms of colitis and improving quality of life.

Effectiveness of Using CBD Oil for Colitis Symptoms

Now that we've covered the basics (yes, that was the basics!), let's dive into how CBD may be used to manage symptoms for someone suffering from colitis. We'll go into detail but what it all boils down to is that three of the most unpleasant aspects of colitis are exactly what CBD is best at helping with: inflammation, pain, and a feeling of well-being.

Colitis Symptoms that CBD Manages

Inflammation: CBD is Anti-Inflammatory
The primary symptom of colitis is inflammation of the intestinal wall. This causes the pain and is responsible for most of the other symptoms. CBD is remarkably good at reducing inflammation. It does this by influencing the CB1 system which regulates immune responses like inflammation. It also inhibits inflammation-causing components like cytokines and adenosine. CBD taken orally will both flow through your bloodstream and travel through your intestines to ease the inflammation of the colon causing most of your trouble.

Abdominal Pain & Chronic Pain: CBD Reduces the Perception of Pain
CBD also affects how your body responds to pain. Cannabinoids interact with the nervous system, by reducing the false pain signals sent to the nerves. It can possibly do this for colitis by reducing the pain signals your intestines are sending to your brain. Combining this with the reduction of inflammation, colitis patients can potentially experience relief from chronic abdominal pain with CBD.

Stress and Anxiety Reduction
CBD combines it's anti-inflammatory and pain-reduction effects with a warm sense of physical wellbeing. This feeling is a hallmark of CBD in your endocannabinoid system and can reduce the stress and anxiety often brought on by dealing with colitis. This, in turn, can have side-benefits of increasing the quality of your sleep and even increase your ability to eat comfortably.

The Science Behind CBD and Colitis

CBD has been tested in small, scientific trials several times, with mild but positive results. To start with, mice with colitis were found to experience anti-inflammatory effects in the intestines when treated with CBD. In fact, there have been several conclusive studies involving colitis in mice including one relating to improved wound healing and reduced neutrophil recruitment.

In human trials, there were two specific studies worth noting— one with 92 patients with ulcerative colitis and one with 60 patients with ulcerative colitis. In the first study, no difference in remission was found. Patients given CBD (as opposed to the placebo groups) reported a higher quality of life and none of the patients who received CBD reported serious side effects, while 10% of the placebo group reported serious side effects.

In the second study, it was found that patients given CBD showed healthier intestinal absorption behaviors, while a test group given a CBD alternative did not show the same improvement.

How to Use CBD for Colitis

Naturally, your last and most urgent question is how CBD can be used to manage colitis symptoms. The good news is that there are many options available that can help with colitis, so you are free to carefully experiment with all of them to find what works best for you. Remember to speak with your doctor if you have colitis and are beginning a new health regimen.

Colitis patients looking to try CBD need only worry about trusted CBD providers and what works best for you. There are several ways to administer CBD and correct dosage will vary from person to person. Our best advice is to start slow and wait the recommended amount of time before trying a second or larger dose. The choice of isolate, full spectrum, or broad spectrum CBD is also entirely up to you

Best CBD Oil for Colitis

CBD Tinctures

CBD tinctures are CBD oil drops administered under the tongue. There, the CBD soaks into your mucus membranes and directly into your bloodstream. Many people recommend tinctures as a good place to start. This is also referred to as ‘sublingual,' which means under the tongue. It takes about 10 to 30 minutes to begin feeling the effects of a tincture taken sublingually.

For colitis, it can be smart to start with tinctures because you will feel how CBD affects your body before you test how your digestive system responds to edible CBD.

CBD Capsules

Capsules of CBD are gel capsules, just like you might take from fish oil or vitamin E oil. They are a few drops of CBD oil suspended in coconut oil, olive oil, or hemp oil encapsulated in gel that dissolves in your stomach. CBD capsules are digested, so it takes anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or more to start feeling the effects.

CBD capsules are recommended for colitis because they will send CBD through your digestive tract, ground zero for the condition. You may need to wait 2-4 hours to find out how the CBD that travels through your digestion interacts with your intestines.

CBD Edibles

CBD edibles are CBD cooked or mixed into foods. The most common type of edible is CBD gummies in the form of bears, worms, and so on. Gummies are made with gelatin or pectin with a little sugar, sour, and flavor. You can also find CBD edibles in chocolates, candies, baked goods, and oil to cook for yourself. Remember that CBD edibles are also digested, so they may take a little longer to feel the effects depending on your metabolism and what ingredients the CBD is mixed with.

CBD edibles may be a good idea for colitis symptoms because they travel through the digestive tract. However, proceed with caution and when in doubt, speak to your doctor about taking CBD. Most edibles are candies and as you may know, high sugar content could exacerbate colitis symptoms and counteract the benefits of CBD. It is possible to find sugar-free CBD edibles or to add CBD to healthy foods at home with careful dosing. Again, wait a few hours to find out what the ultimate effect of trying edible CBD will be for your colitis.

CBD Suppositories

CBD suppositories are like capsules that are taken rectally, delivering CBD closer to the pain-point for colitis symptoms. Suppositories are mainly used when someone is unable to take oral medication. There are currently no known conclusive studies as to whether CBD suppositories are especially useful for colitis or related conditions. CBD suppositories take 15 to 45 minutes to feel the effects, mostly through the bloodstream.

How to Dose CBD to Manage Colitis

Always start with the smallest available dose and slowly work your way up. Try one, then wait up to an hour before trying two at once, and so on. Give yourself time to understand the full effects. For managing colitis symptoms, you may want to try one dose experiment per day, as you are testing how CBD responds not just in your bloodstream, but also traveling the slow path through your digestive tract.

At CBD Oil Review, we have analyzed hundreds of products and come up with a standard serving suggestion to get you started, if you need further assistance: The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25 mg of CBD, taken twice daily.

For more information on CBD doses, check out our dosage guide or consider speaking to a naturopathic doctor who can give you more personalized advice.

+ 7 sources

Sources:

  1. Ahmed, Waseem, and Seymour Katz. “Therapeutic Use of Cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease.” Gastroenterology & hepatology vol. 12,11 (2016): 668-679. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5193087/
  2. George Washington University Hospital. “Colitis Risk, Symptoms and Treatment.” 2021 https://www.gwhospital.com/conditions-services/digestive-disorder-center/colitis
  3. National Health Service. “Overview- Ulcerative Colitis.” NHS 23 Jan 2019. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ulcerative-colitis/#:~:text=Ulcerative%20colitis%20is%20a%20long,can%20bleed%20and%20produce%20pus
  4. Welch, Ashley. “Need-to-Know Side Effects of Ulcerative Colitis Medications.” Everyday Health, 11 Jan 2017. https://www.everydayhealth.com/ulcerative-colitis/treatment/ulcerative-colitis-treatment-side-effects/
  5. De Filippis, Daniele et al. “Cannabidiol reduces intestinal inflammation through the control of neuroimmune axis.” PloS one vol. 6,12 (2011): e28159. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028159 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22163000
  6. Krohn, R.M., Parsons, S.A., Fichna, J. et al. Abnormal cannabidiol attenuates experimental colitis in mice, promotes wound healing and inhibits neutrophil recruitment. J Inflamm 13, 21 (2016). https://journal-inflammation.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12950-016-0129-0
  7. Kafil TS, Nguyen TM, MacDonald JK, Chande N. Cannabis for the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD012954. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012954.pub2 https://www.cochrane.org/CD012954/IBD_cannabis-and-cannabis-oil-treatment-ulcerative-colitis

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