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Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and CBD Oil: Research, Benefits, Product Recommendations

In the United States alone, nearly 1.6 million people are currently dealing with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is a broad category of inflammatory conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract. Examples of conditions categorized under IBD include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. With limited treatment options, it now appears that cannabidiol (CBD) oil may be able to provide some relief.

The inflammation associated with IBD can lead to diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fatigue. If you find yourself plagued with these often debilitating symptoms, CBD oil may offer some relief.

Plenty of studies have now shown cannabis and cannabinoids like CBD to be natural anti-inflammatory agents, making them potentially effective in treating this complicated condition.

Benefits of Using CBD Oil for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

For those who suffer from IBD, medications such as anti-inflammatories, immune system suppressors, and antibiotics are often prescribed. While these drugs may be effective for many, they can often come with undesirable side effects.

The anti-inflammatory drug prednisone and other corticosteroids, for example, have many unpleasant side effects including glaucoma, swelling, mood swings, and even delirium. The immune system suppressor methotrexate has very serious side effects and can cause lung, liver, and stomach damage.

Here’s a breakdown of the most common medications prescribed for IBD, their side effects, and how using CBD oil as an alternative or complementary treatment could help.

Common IBD Medication Potential IBD Medication Side Effects Potential CBD Oil Benefit Potential Side Effects of combining CBD Oil w/ IBD Medication
Anti-Inflammatories (mesalamine; balsalazide; olsalazine) Headache; nausea; vomiting; heartburn; muscle or joint pain; insomnia; diarrhea; flu-like symptoms; loss of appetite. CBD oil can reduce inflammation without causing any of the same side effects. There are no known interactions between CBD oil and these anti-inflammatory medications but that does not mean they do not exist.  Always consult a physician before using CBD oil.
Immunosuppressants (azathioprine; mercaptopurine; cyclosporine; methotrexate) Diarrhea; rash; dizziness; muscle aches; fatigue; night sweats; headache; nausea; excessive hair growth or hair loss; chills; increased risk for infection. CBD oil can assist in regulating the immune system without causing any of these same side effects. Using CBD oil with these particular immunosuppressants can lead to an increased risk of liver damage. Always consult a physician before using CBD oil.
Biologics (infliximab; adalimumab; golimumab; natalizumab; vedolizumab; ustekinumab) Headache; fever; chills; increased risk of infection; muscle weakness; increased bruising; hives; itching; shortness of breath. CBD oil can assist in regulating the immune system without causing any of these same side effects. CBD oil can assist in regulating the immune system without causing any of these same side effects.
Antibiotics (ciprofloxacin; metronidazole) Nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; constipation; headache; rash; mouth sores; dizziness; fainting; fast or pounding heartbeat; sudden pain. CBD oil can exert antimicrobial properties and fight infection without causing any of these same side effects. Using CBD oil with ciprofloxacin may increase the risk of experiencing the following side effects: drowsiness; diarrhea; decreased appetite; and liver problems.

For those looking for an alternative to the drugs often prescribed for IBD, and who wish to avoid using antibiotics, CBD may be a worthwhile option. The World Health Organization (WHO) has made it known that “no public health problems… have been associated with the use of pure CBD [oil],” and there is virtually no risk for addiction to it.

CBD has many health benefits, won’t get you high, and has few side effects, making it a relatively safe supplement to experiment with. BUT, before you do anything, speak with your doctor. Having that conversation ahead of time is crucial, as CBD can interact with certain medications, including antibiotics, and you’ll want to eliminate the risk for adverse effects before starting a CBD oil regimen.

Effectiveness of Using CBD Oil for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Much research has been done on CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties and pain relieving potential, making it a viable candidate for managing IBD symptoms. Add to this the fact that the gastrointestinal tract is lined with cannabinoid receptors, which are believed to help regulate intestinal inflammation, and cannabinoids like CBD show even more promise.

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There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence driving some of the current medical research. Before the endocannabinoid system (ECS) was even discovered, people with IBD were successfully using cannabis to control symptoms like abdominal pain, joint pain, cramping, diarrhea, poor appetite, weight loss, and nausea.

In one scientific review on the use of cannabis and its derivatives in treating various forms of IBD, researchers found that when human and mice cells were deficient in endocannabinoids, they could not adequately control the inflammation process.

One of the studies explored in the review examined the effects of cannabis on Crohn’s disease symptoms. In the observational study, the 30 patients were legally using cannabis due to a lack of response to traditional treatments. Disease activity before and after cannabis treatment was studied using the Harvey-Bradshaw Index and patients self-assessed their “general medical well-being.” The Harvey-Bradshaw Index is a clinical measurement of the symptoms and progression of Crohn’s in patients with the disease.

All 30 patients rated their medical well-being as improved: 21 patients had notable improvements after treatment and only 2 required surgery during a 3-year period of cannabis use. Researchers claim that this is a significant improvement over typical surgery rates in individuals with Crohn’s. A total of 26 patients required the use of corticosteroids before cannabis treatment, but only 4 required them afterward.

Another study covered in the review was a clinical trial published by Lahat and colleagues that followed 13 patients with longstanding IBD. These individuals had no prior experience with cannabis before the trial. Each patient was given a total amount of 50 g of cannabis plant in prepared cigarettes and were told to use inhaled cannabis any time they felt pain for a 3-month period.

The patients completed 2 different surveys and physicians measured body weights and calculated Harvey-Bradshaw indexes and partial Mayo scores before and after treatment. Mayo scores are used to measure the severity of symptoms in patients with ulcerative colitis.

The patients noted a significant improvement in daily activities and a reduction in pain. This led the authors to conclude that cannabis can improve the quality of life in patients with IBD, increases weight and body mass index, and improves clinical disease activity in patients with Crohn’s disease. The authors believed these “effects were related to the analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimotility, and additional effects of cannabinoids.”

In another study, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD were compared to the anti-inflammatory medication sulfasalazine in treating colitis. Of the three compounds studied, THC was most effective, CBD was not very effective, and sulphasalazine was slightly effective. However, researchers found the combination of THC and CBD to be the most effective treatment for colitis, concluding that, “In this model of colitis, THC and CBD not only reduced inflammation but also lowered the occurrence of functional disturbances. Moreover, the combination of CBD and THC could be beneficial therapeutically, via additive or potentiating effects.”

A final study looked at CBD’s effects on humans with ulcerative colitis and mice with induced intestinal inflammation. In the mice samples, CBD was able to reduce intestinal inflammation after it had been induced, and decrease damage to the intestines. Promisingly, researchers found similar results when examining colon samples from the ulcerative colitis patients who’d taken CBD. Encouragingly, the study concluded that, “Our results therefore indicate that CBD indeed unravels a new therapeutic strategy to treat inflammatory bowel diseases.”

Results like these point to CBD oil being a potentially effective treatment for IBD without all the harsh side effects that come with traditionally prescribed medications.

How to Take CBD Oil for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Taking CBD oil for IBD is not difficult. With CBD oil available in a variety of formats, from gummies and edibles to capsules, oils, vape pens, and even suppositories, there’s bound to be a product that will suit your needs.

Taking CBD oil in an edible or a capsule is an easy way to supplement your daily wellness routine with a consistent dose of CBD. However it will take longer for the CBD to take effect, typically around an hour, because it must pass through the digestive system before being absorbed into the bloodstream. Once the CBD has been absorbed, the benefits can last up to 6 hours, meaning you’ll likely only have to take 1 or 2 CBD edibles or capsules daily for your IBD symptoms.

Many people also choose to use CBD oil tinctures or drops. Using the supplied dropper, you simply place the CBD oil under your tongue, and about 30 minutes later, the effects begin to set in. You’ll likely feel the effects of the CBD for 2 to 4 hours after using drops or a tincture. One of the greatest benefits of using these delivery methods is dosage control: CBD oil drops and tinctures allow you to easily and precisely adjust the number of milligrams of CBD you’re ingesting, literally down to the drop. If you know you could be on the verge of experiencing unpleasant IBD symptoms, using CBD oil drops or tinctures ahead of time may help.

For sudden inflammation and pain, a CBD vape or CBD flower may be the best choice. These formats deliver effects within minutes since the CBD is absorbed immediately into the bloodstream via the lungs. Unfortunately, the effects do not last long—typically an hour at most—and it isn’t always convenient or appropriate to vape or smoke.

CBD Oil Dosage for Irritable Bowel Disease

While most CBD companies will provide dosage recommendations on the packaging of their products, nailing down the appropriate dose for your individual needs can take some trial and error. Starting dose recommendations are all over the place, but to make things simple, we at CBD Oil Review have come up with the following:

The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25 mg of CBD, taken twice daily

If you’re not seeing the results you were hoping for, increase your dosage by 25 mg every 3 to 4 weeks, and be careful to monitor your IBD symptoms.

Once you’ve taken the time to determine your CBD dosage, you’ll likely be surprised at how much better you feel. With scientifically proven anti-inflammatory effects, and a catalog of anecdotal success stories, CBD for IBD could be the next big revelation in the medical world.

The Best CBD Oil for IBD

There is no single product that can be called the best CBD oil for IBD. But, there are many great products on the market for you to choose from.

Before purchasing any CBD product, it is important you know what to look for. The quality of a CBD oil product will make or break your experience using CBD to address IBD symptoms.

To ensure you’re getting the best product for your money, ask these questions before finalizing your purchase

  • Where does the CBD come from? Try to buy products that are sourced from certified organic hemp. This will eliminate the risk of exposure to harmful pesticides and insecticides.
  • Is there THC? As mentioned above, THC may be useful for IBD when used in conjunction with CBD. But, a full-spectrum CBD oil with a THC content above 0.3% will not be legally available to everyone. Check the laws in your state before buying a CBD oil product with more than 0.3% THC.
  • Is there a Certificate of Analysis (COA)? Before buying, you should look for (and read!) the COA for the particular product you’re interested in. High-quality brands will test each batch of CBD product to determine its quality and potency, and then post the results online. The COA will allow you to confirm the CBD and THC concentration listed on the label, and tell you whether or not the final product contains any contaminants or heavy metals. If you cannot find up-to-date COAs for the CBD products you’re looking at, it is a good idea to shop somewhere else.
  • What’s in the CBD Oil? Most CBD oil products will not require a large number of ingredients. In some instances, CBD and a carrier liquid like MCT oil will be all that is required. Look for a product that sticks to natural ingredients like terpenes, other cannabinoids, and natural flavoring, while staying away from products that contain artificial additives.

Remember, before you begin using CBD oil for IBD, be sure to talk to your doctor. Together you can determine if CBD oil is a safe and effective option for you.

+ 5 sources


  1. Tim Ambrose et al. (2018) Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and the Endocannabinoid System—Is there Therapeutic Potential for Inflammatory Bowel Disease? - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6441301/
  2. Frank I Scott (2020) Marijuana Use in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Understanding the Prevalence and the Potential Pitfalls - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7182098/
  3. Adi Lahat et al. (2011) Impact of cannabis treatment on the quality of life, weight and clinical disease activity in inflammatory bowel disease patients: a pilot prospective study - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22095142/
  4. Waseem Ahmed et al. Therapeutic Use of Cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5193087/
  5. Daniele De Filippis et al. (2011) Cannabidiol reduces intestinal inflammation through the control of neuroimmune axis - National Library of Medicine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22163000/

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