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Is CBD a Safe and Effective Treatment for IBD and What’s the Best Form to Use?

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is a collection of inflammatory diseases affecting the . IBD symptoms include severe cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. These symptoms can be painful and disruptive to your daily life.

In recent years, there’s been growing interest in trying to manage these symptoms with , an active compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant.

Unlike the plant’s other active compound, , CBD has no psychoactive properties. This means it doesn’t get you high. CBD does, however, have some . It’s been used to help relieve conditions ranging from and to .

Though research is limited and study results are mixed when it comes to CBD’s effectiveness, it does appear to be for adults. In addition, people with IBD report improvements in symptoms and quality of life after using it.

More clinical research is needed to determine whether CBD can effectively treat IBD symptoms. In the meantime, CBD should not be considered a replacement for more comprehensive, traditional IBD treatment.

Keep reading to learn about the different forms of CBD, what types can be used to potentially alleviate symptoms of IBD, and how to determine dosage. We’ll also review potential risks and side effects.

The different forms of CBD

While new delivery methods for CBD come on the market almost daily, most fall into the following categories:

Forms of CBD Description
oils, tinctures, and nasal sprays Manufacturers infuse CBD in a carrier liquid such as olive or coconut oil. Oils placed under the tongue with a dropper or sprayed into the nose absorb quickly into the bloodstream.
soft gels or capsules CBD pills contain a version of an oil or tincture. The time from ingestion to onset of effect can take a while.
topical creams, lotions, salves Topical CBD creams are often applied to the skin to ease muscle or joint pain. They’re also used to treat skin conditions like or . Most topicals do not enter the bloodstream. Instead, they affect local cannabinoid receptors in the skin.
transdermal patches Patches typically penetrate the skin to reach the bloodstream. They may have an advantage over creams by providing a steady infusion of CBD for localized treatment, according to a review in the journal .
suppositories and suppositories are typically made with cocoa butter. They’re claimed to treat a variety of conditions including .
edibles CBD is also infused into mints, gummies, lollipops, and other candies. Like capsules, time from ingestion to effect can take a while.
vaping oils Inhaling vaporized CBD oil (with the use of vaping pens or e-cigarettes) is the fastest way to experience effects. Compounds are absorbed directly from the lungs into the bloodstream.

Using CBD to manage IBD symptoms

The two main diseases that fall under the IBD umbrella are and .

Crohn’s tends to cause patchy areas of inflamed tissue, usually in the wall of the small intestine. Ulcerative colitis typically forms near the rectum and spreads up into the colon, also known as the large intestine.

While there are other differences between the two conditions, they share common symptoms, including:

  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • blood in the stools
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • lack of appetite

Some of these symptoms by the use of CBD.

One found that CBD oil, taken in pill form, may help relieve Crohn’s disease symptoms. suggests that CBD may help caused by colitis.

Which forms to use

of CBD that you can use to potentially relieve symptoms of IBD include:

  • Pills and capsules. Daily use of CBD pills may help keep IBD symptoms at bay.
  • Vaping. Vaporizing CBD may be helpful for sudden IBD flare-ups.
  • Edibles. These gummy-like candies or chocolates are good options for those who have trouble swallowing pills.
  • Oils and tinctures. These are typically placed under the tongue and absorb quickly into the bloodstream. Like edibles, they’re a good option for people who have trouble swallowing pills.
  • Skin creams and lotions. Topical creams are designed more for treating joint problems and skin conditions, like eczema.

What types of CBD are best for IBD?

There are you may consider for IBD treatment. But not all types may be right for you.

Full-spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD contains all the compounds from cannabis, including THC in varying amounts. It usually comes in oils, tinctures, vaping oil, edibles, and creams.

By law, full-spectrum CBD products can contain only 0.3 percent THC. However, CBD products aren’t as tightly regulated as standard medications, so the actual amount of THC may vary considerably from product to product.

Broad-spectrum CBD

Like full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD contains other compounds from the cannabis plant. However, all THC has been removed. This type is less popular, and is usually sold as an oil.

CBD isolate

CBD isolate is pure CBD. It’s usually derived from hemp plants and contains no other compounds. It comes in oil or tincture form, as well as small powdery products that can be eaten.

What the research says

A found that full-spectrum CBD oil, which contained some THC, helped improve quality of life and eased some Crohn’s disease symptoms.

Other has been promising in treating IBD. However, more, larger clinical trials are needed before more doctors will feel confident recommending this treatment.

How do you determine dosage?

Because CBD is a relatively new treatment option, healthcare providers are still learning what dosages are both safe and effective for various diseases and people.

In one , participants took 50 milligrams (mg) of CBD oil twice daily to start, going to up 250 mg per dose if it was well-tolerated. Those taking CBD reported greater improvements in quality of life compared to those who took a placebo, but other results were mixed.

Other suggests starting with around 40 mg and increasing from there.

As with most medications, you want to start with the lowest dose that’s still effective. You can then increase to a stronger dose if needed. Lower doses of most medications tend to have lower risks than higher doses.

What are the risks of taking CBD?

The long-term risks of CBD use have yet to be established, though researchers are collecting data every year.

It’s also important to note that the FDA doesn’t yet regulate CBD and other dietary supplements for purity and safety. This means there’s always a risk that you may ingest THC or other compounds that you would otherwise avoid.

Interactions with other medications

If you take the anticoagulant warfarin (), CBD may raise the level of the blood thinner circulating in your body. This increases the risk of bleeding complications.

CBD may increase the levels and activity of other medications, too. Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking CBD and other medications.

What are the potential side effects of CBD?

Unlike THC, which carries a long list of potential side effects, CBD appears relatively safe for most adults. Some possible side effects include:

  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in weight

Other remedies for IBD

Living with IBD usually means modifying your diet and lifestyle to manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

Some common include:

  • limiting certain fruits and vegetables, such as prunes, that can increase stool output
  • increasing , such as salmon, which can help reduce inflammation
  • reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption
  • eating throughout the day, rather than two or three large meals

To learn what foods may trigger your IBD flare-ups, keep a food diary to track what you eat and when you have digestive troubles.

Other lifestyle adjustments include regular exercise and not smoking.

Joining an IBD community

You might also consider joining an online IBD community where you can connect with others who understand what it’s like to live with IBD. Read more .

When to see a doctor

If you have IBD, you should be under the care of a doctor. Standard medications for IBD include:

  • , such as
  • (drugs made from living cells)

In serious cases, may be needed if IBD has severely damaged part of your digestive tract.

If you’re interested in trying CBD to help relieve your IBD symptoms, talk with your doctor first.

The takeaway

CBD is getting more and more attention from those with IBD who are searching for symptom relief. It’s also getting attention from healthcare providers who see the compound as a potential new weapon in the fight against this painful digestive condition.

CBD isn’t regulated by the FDA, and there are no large clinical trials to support its use. However, if you’re looking for something else to complement your current IBD treatment, it may be worth asking your doctor if you would be a good candidate to try CBD for symptom relief.

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