Can CBD Cause Diarrhea?
Everyone seems to be using CBD for everything. As companies continue to crop up, claims continue to rise regarding the benefits it can have on your health. It’s cast in a positive light, but the information isn’t often balanced with the possibility of side effects.
Side effects of the non-psychoactive component of cannabis seem to be few and mild, but may exist nonetheless. There are a few factors that play into the side effects, but the first step is discovering what those side effects can be. The big question when taking this cannabis-derived supplement is, can CBD cause diarrhea?
Here’s an attempt at simplifying a more complex answer to that question:
- Human studies support that CBD is predominantly safe in humans with possible mild side effects including tiredness, weight change, and diarrhea.
- For people affected by stomach diseases like IBS or acid reflux, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a reputable contender to remedy them
- There are some cases in which CBD can cause diarrhea, but it’s possible that other factors can be at play
Why CBD May Cause Diarrhea
Much of what is currently known about CBD is its ability to pacify some of the body’s more alarming responses. Too much stress? Take CBD. Inflammation of the joints or irritation of the skin? Rub CBD on the skin.
The FDA took its first step in recognizing this power by approving Epidiolex. This medicine is the first approved drug to use CBD and the results are astounding. It effectively reduces the frequency and severity of seizures associated with Dravet and Lennox-Gastout Syndrome in children as young as two years old.
The extensive human trials it took to get this drug to market revealed some of the side effects it could cause. These side effects including tiredness, weight fluctuation, and diarrhea.
A series of studies was conducted to examine the efficacy of the drug. In the first, children and young adults with different forms of epilepsy were given trial doses of Epidiolex. Sixteen percent experienced diarrhea as a side effect.
In a subsequent larger study, children were given CBD in conjunction with normal epilepsy medication and, over the course of a year, 19 percent experienced diarrhea as a side effect. These researchers pointed out that there was no control group, making it difficult to pinpoint the reason for the side effect.
The case was slightly different for dogs. In a study of 30 dogs with epilepsy, every participant developed diarrhea at some stage of the study. This response was attributed to levels that exceeded what they would clinically administer. When dogs with arthritis were given lower doses of CBD daily, diarrhea was not a side effect for any of them.
CBD and the Stomach
CBD is known to be an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-apoptotic. It isn’t limited to any one part of the body and can be especially helpful for those who suffer from stomach troubles.
Stomach troubles often have a lot to do with gastrointestinal motility. GI motility quite simply refers to the movements of the intestines and the contents that pass through. When the muscles of the GI-tract are over- or underactive, the result can be diarrhea or constipation, respectively.
GI motility is the response to a number of uncomfortable stomach issues.
Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) is among the most common afflictions related to GI motility. It is a chronic disease that can be a result of stress, poor diet, infection, or other unknown reactors. The effects can include bloating, gas, diarrhea, or constipation.
The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD can be helpful in treating IBS. It can help relax the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, turning these bodily functions back to normal.
Since CBD is also used as a stress-reliever, it’s possible that stress-induced IBS can be cleared with habitual doses of CBD.
The esophagus–your throat–is also part of the GI tract and as such can be affected by irregular GI motility. If the muscles that are meant to let food into the stomach and lock it up, acid reflux is a result.
CBD works along with a series of receptors found in all tissue of the body known as the endocannabinoid system. ECS receptors in the GI tract can positively react to CBD, helping to reverse the over- or under-action of muscles that regulate stomach functionality.
So how, then, can CBD cause diarrhea? The answer lies in the quality of the CBD as well as what is added to the mix.
What Goes Into CBD Oil?
CBD is found in the cannabis sativa l. plant. CBD is commonly drawn from hemp, a member of the cannabis family with high concentrations of CBD and low concentrations of psychoactive THC.
There are varied methods for extracting CBD from hemp and some are more safe and effective than others. Industrial producers often opt for the CO2 extraction method. This method results in a CBD oil free of pollutants or residue, leaving a clean product.
The oil product, when done right, is predominantly CBD. Full-spectrum or whole-plant products will include other cannabinoids and terpenes naturally found in the plant. It’s believed that using a full array of these active plant extracts can boost the overall benefits of CBD.
Some companies will create CBD products blended with carrier oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, or hemp seed oil. These oils are an allergen for some people. It’s possible that an adverse reaction to these added oils can cause diarrhea, not necessarily CBD itself.
There’s an inundation of CBD companies, all presenting different formulas and claiming quality and purity. It’s easy to get lost in the fog of terms like vertical integration, triple-lab tested, non-GMO, and the like while trying to identify unadulterated CBD oil.
At the bottom line, there are a few key factors that matter most: the quality of the hemp, the safety of extraction methods, and the additional ingredients, if any, that are added in the final product.
How Else Can CBD Cause Diarrhea?
There are a few important indicators of a trustworthy CBD brand. A commitment to quality should come first and foremost for all products, and they should be able to back it up. That includes extraction quality assurance, third-party lab testing, and sustainable farming and harvesting practices. Pollutants can occur at any stage of the process, seed to shelf.
Since we already mentioned how confusing these terms can be, we’ll help clear the dust a bit.
- Quality assurance is the practice of actively inspecting the product at every stage of the process for faults or contaminants.
- Third-party lab testing implies that an accredited, independent facility inspected the product to ensure it complies with specific safety standards.
- Seed to shelf refers to the ability to track the lifeline of the hemp plant. Many companies will offer transparency about where the hemp seed comes from and where it’s planted, processed, packaged, and sold. Knowing all of the stops it makes helps to ensure quality and identify where a problem occurred if there are any reported issues with the final product.
- Vertical integration refers to the practice of a company whose entire production processes occurs within that company without any outsourced materials or processes.
It’s important to keep these terms in mind while shopping for CBD products. Cannabis has a high potential to absorb contaminants in the soil or water from heavy metals, pesticides, or other hazardous chemicals. Meticulous attention to quality helps to avoid any potentially irritating pollutants that could cause diarrhea.
If you believe your CBD oil is the cause of diarrhea, it may be a good idea to look more closely at the other ingredients in the oil. It’s possible that the cause lies somewhere else other than CBD.
For those who take CBD oil specifically for stomach problems, taking CBD oil through tinctures, capsules, or gummies could be the surest way to have it absorbed into the GI tract. If you’re taking CBD for other reasons and experiencing adverse effects like diarrhea, a good option is to skip consumption all together and give topicals a try. It also might be that the dosage is off.
There is a multitude of topically applied CBD products available including lotions, salves, balms, and patches. These can have relaxing effects on joints and muscle pain and even result in some mental calm and clarity.
While all supplements can come with a risk of side effects, it’s rare that CBD on its own is the cause of diarrhea. If you notice a correlation between CBD-use and diarrhea, look first for other ingredients that may be the root of the problem.
If it really is the CBD to blame, we offer a reminder that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. It takes time to identify the right dosage of CBD, and side-effects can be a signal that the daily amount needs tweaking.
Diarrhea is considered a mild symptom, but should still be seen as a health risk if it persists. Changing your CBD brand, routine, or application could be a good first start to eliminating runs to the toilet and experiencing the beneficial power of CBD.
CBD has become wildly popular due to its many health benefits. But what are the side effects? Can CBD cause diarrhea? Our experts have the answer.
CBD and diarrhea
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- Research overview
- The studies
- Patient perspectives
- What the experts say
- Bottom line
CBD oil has been gaining traction among cannabis doctors and patients as a potential remedy for ailments ranging from arthritis to epilepsy. Taking CBD oil generally causes few side effects compared with many prescription medications and over-the-counter painkillers. There are possible side effects associated with CBD, though these may be rare and/or only occur in high oral doses.
Can using CBD oil help diarrhea? Or can CBD oil cause diarrhea? In this article, we’ll take a look at the effects of the cannabinoid on the body and highlight the most current research on CBD oil and diarrhea.
In 2019, the Mayo Clinic reported that CBD is generally well-tolerated but may cause a number of side effects — among them, diarrhea. At least two studies have confirmed a possible link between CBD oil and diarrhea, but research is still emerging and it’s important to consult your physician about starting a regimen and determining appropriate dosages.
Can CBD oil help diarrhea?
For some people, CBD oil and other cannabis products may help alleviate diarrhea and other symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). According to a 2016 literature review published in the journal Gastroenterology & Hepatology, cannabis and CBD may be used therapeutically to treat IBD. The authors of the review expressed concern for the side effects of cannabis on IBD patients, but ultimately concluded, “A significant portion of IBD patients, particularly those with severe disease, use cannabis to relieve symptoms of pain, nausea, and appetite and to improve their overall mood.” It is worth noting that the researchers focused on cannabis overall and not specifically CBD products.
For some people, CBD oil and other cannabis products may help alleviate diarrhea and other symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
One 2018 randomized control trial examined whether a CBD-rich botanical extract could help people with ulcerative colitis, a type of IBD with a litany of symptoms including diarrhea. Results, published in the scientific journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, determined that “CBD-rich botanical extract may be beneficial for symptomatic treatment of ulcerative colitis.”
Can CBD oil cause diarrhea?
One 2019 report, published in the journal Current Neuropharmacology, discussed the effects of CBD based on clinical trials of the FDA-approved drug Epidiolex, which is derived from CBD and prescribed to treat severe cases of childhood epilepsy. It also looked at the use of Epidiolex to treat psychiatric problems. The researchers determined that diarrhea was among the most common adverse effects for individuals taking Epidiolex to treat epilepsy and psychiatric disorders. They noted, however, that the incidence of any side effect was low compared to other drugs used to treat such conditions.
In 2018, results of randomized CBD trials were published in the journal CNS Drugs. In these trials, CBD was found to have a high level of tolerance with minimal adverse effects. Similar to the Epidiolex trials, these studies showed that diarrhea was among the most common side effects of CBD and occurred more frequently in individuals on a regimen of the cannabinoid than those taking a placebo. Researchers reported that the effects ranged from mild to moderate, with no severe cases.
Brooke Bogdan has been using medical cannabis since 2012 to address symptoms of ulcerative colitis. In a 2019 article published in Everyday Health, Bogdan shared how medical marijuana helped her find relief from chronic pain. When she started using cannabis, Bogdan’s condition was so severe that she needed to have a total colectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the colon.
Prior to the surgery, Bogdan had endured constant discomfort and nightly insomnia, but with the integration of medical marijuana into her treatment, she has witnessed vast improvements. Bogdan wrote, “Cannabis helped provide an outlet of relief for me when I was close to losing my life. When prescription medication doesn’t help my ulcerative colitis symptoms, I turn to cannabis.”
To help alleviate diarrhea, it is suggested to use CBD oil vape pens, tinctures and dabs rather than edibles. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Specifically, Bogdan mentioned that CBD oil vape pens, as well as tinctures and dabs, have relieved her symptoms. She advised against the consumption of edibles for people coping with ulcerative colitis because, “Our digestive tracts don’t function well, therefore we may not be able to absorb the medication into our systems via chewing and swallowing.”
Other patients have described experiencing minor diarrhea after consuming high levels of CBD. Curt Rollins is a retired florist who lives in Brunswick, Georgia. For more than 30 years, he worked with his hands designing intricate floral arrangements for weddings and baby showers. “I loved the work, but my hands paid the price,” Rollins revealed in a phone interview with Weedmaps.
When Rollins developed debilitating arthritis in both his hands, he turned to over-the-counter painkillers and cortisol shots, but nothing brought relief. Then, his doctor suggested CBD oil and his hands started to improve. “The pain got a lot better without too many side effects. But I did find that my stomach would get a bit upset if I had too much CBD oil every day,” Rollins shared.
How many milligrams of CBD would qualify as excessive? That depends on the individual, but a rule of thumb is that 500 milligrams or more is a high dose of CBD. Rollins continued, “When I reduced the dose or just rubbed the CBD oil on my hands instead of swallowing it too, I didn’t have any problems with nausea or diarrhea anymore.”
So, does CBD oil cause diarrhea? The answer is probably not, as long as you’re using CBD at lower levels under a qualified physician’s care. But elevated doses of CBD (or any medicine) may be problematic and affect the digestive system. Vaping or dabbing CBD can help users avoid the issue completely.
What the experts say
A link between CBD oil and diarrhea may exist, but only at high oral doses, according to Dr. Adie Rae, a neuroscientist at Legacy Research Institute in Portland, Oregon, and a scientific adviser to Weedmaps. “Yes, CBD causes diarrhea at high oral doses, as reported in the Epidiolex clinical trials and randomized clinical trials in adults,” said Rae, referencing the two trials cited in this article.
Rae was quick to add that “most people will not take enough CBD to cause diarrhea; this usually happens at very high doses of 500 milligrams or more.”
Of course, a lower oral dosage of 400 milligrams, for example, could still trigger diarrhea in some individuals. Height and weight may also play a role. In addition, dietary habits, exercise frequency, and general health may influence whether taking CBD oil leads to diarrhea or not.
CBD oil interacts in different ways with the endocannabinoid system of each unique individual. Before you take CBD, discuss your best treatment options with your healthcare provider and always listen to what your body is telling you.
In terms of CBD easing diarrhea, especially acute bouts, Rae noted that there is little evidence that CBD is a directly useful tool. She asserted, however, that “CBD could still improve the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic bowel disorders, even if it doesn’t improve some specific symptoms like diarrhea.”
Other researchers agree. Dr. Timna Naftali, a gastroenterology specialist at Tel Aviv University’s Meir Hospital in Israel, studied the effects of a treatment with 15% CBD and 4% THC on patients with Crohn’s disease. Naftali found that 65% of patients experienced clinical remission and improved quality of life after eight weeks of cannabis treatment.
Mild to moderate diarrhea may coincide with using oral CBD at elevated doses, but no studies currently indicate that such effects are serious or result from taking CBD oil in lower doses or in different forms. As for whether CBD can help gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, the Israeli study is promising but more human trials are needed. For those who want to try it, an inhalable route is probably best.
CBD and diarrhea Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Research overview The studies Patient perspectives What the experts say