Can CBD Oil Help IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)?

Can CBD Oil Help IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)?

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is more common than you might think. This gut condition is estimated to affect 7% of New Zealanders.

CBD oil has been steadily increasing in popularity as a safe, natural and possible treatment option which may help manage the symptoms of IBS. The wide-ranging possible beneficial effects of CBD means it can possibly help treat IBS symptoms, including changes in bowel movements to severe abdominal pain.

CBD oil and IBS

Because many factors can contribute to the development of IBS and various symptoms that can occur, the wide-ranging beneficial effects of CBD make it a good treatment option to consider.

Here’s how CBD oil may possibly help ease some of the symptoms of IBS. Combining CBD oil with a treatment plan from your doctor may possibly help you get back to feeling your best sooner! 

Gut motility

One of the more frequent symptoms of IBS is its effects on your bowel movements. IBS often leads to intense bouts of diarrhoea or constipation, which can be extremely inconvenient and painful.

How can CBD possibly address this? CBD is thought to regulate gut motility by providing relaxing effects on your nerves, allowing smooth elimination if constipation is an issue for you! Alongside this, CBD also has possible antioxidant properties, which may contribute to improved gut health, leading to possibly more regular and healthy bowel movements.

On the other hand, diarrhoea can also be a direct cause of high levels of stress and anxiety, common in those suffering from IBS! CBD has been shown to possibly have anti-stress benefits in adults due to its interaction with several receptors within the body. This makes CBD a possible choice for diarrhoea and constipation relief!

Animal studies have confirmed this, with mice studies suggesting CBD’s role in reducing gut tension and contractions and affecting nerve channels. This can regulate gut motility and secretion.

Although the benefit of CBD on gut motility is far from conclusive, it is certainly promising. 


Researchers have found a direct link between lowered serotonin levels and IBS patients. Serotonin levels in your gut can affect your stool’s motility, but it can also impact your mood. This connection is so strong that low serotonin levels have been linked with stronger feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear.

Anxiety has a direct correlation with IBS development, but IBS can also worsen stress and anxiety levels! This often creates a negative cycle that can be hard to get out of.

In recent years, CBD has become a popular choice to possibly help support anxiety. While most studies on CBD’s relationship with anxiety have been with animals, the results are still promising. The reason behind this is CBD’s interaction with receptors in the brain that may promote feelings of calm while decreasing cortisol levels and heart rate.

Pain management

Perhaps the most inconvenient symptom of IBS is the extreme pain experienced in the abdominal area. Abdominal pain is often due to over-sensitive nerve endings around the gut area. It affects a whopping 70% of IBS patients.

Luckily, researchers have found CBD to possibly reduce chronic pain, especially in the gut area. Many studies involving mice have found that CBD was helpful for pain due to digestive discomfort, helping to maintain and ease pain symptoms.

Many of these studies showed pain levels lowered due to CBD’s interaction with specific brain receptors, compared to lowering inflammation levels. However, CBD was also shown to have minimal to no side effects.

While the evidence is not conclusive, again it is very promising.

How does CBD possibly help with IBS?

CBD may possibly help support digestion by affecting your endocannabinoid system (ECS). Everyone has an ECS within their body, composed of endocannabinoids naturally produced by the body and receptors. These receptors are located within your nervous system, including your brain.

Cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, like CBD, can bind to receptors resulting in specific effects throughout the body. This is because the ECS controls many body processes, including mood, hormones, and food processing.

CBD can also affect serotonin levels. While CBD doesn’t result in more serotonin production, it can affect how your brain’s receptors respond to the serotonin already present in your body!

How to use CBD oil for IBS?

CBD is a natural treatment option with minimal side effects. However, it is essential to check in with your doctor before using CBD for the first time. They will determine whether CBD oil is a possible option for your IBS symptoms and whether it may interact with other medications you might be on.

You can take CBD oil in a variety of ways. Some people like to add a few drops into smoothies or soups, and others like to apply it topically. A great way to take CBD oil is by putting drops under your tongue to increase absorption rates.

A good way to ease into CBD oil use is slowly before working your way up to higher doses. This lets your body get used to the effects of CBD for IBS. Ultimately, how your body reacts to CBD will be determined by individual body composition and other factors.

CBD Oil and IBS: side effects

CBD oil is safe and generally well-tolerated amongst many people. However, some side effects may be experienced. These include dizziness, fatigue, and changes in appetite or bowel movements.

Your risk of developing side effects can be lessened by continually choosing high-quality products from reputable companies. These products are quality-tested, so they are more likely to retain the product’s effectiveness without any nasty side effects.

The bottom line: CBD & IBS

Can CBD oil help IBS? Yes, it can possibly help but more research is needed. CBD oil for IBS may help ease many symptoms due to its wide-ranging therapeutic benefits. These include CBD’s possible ability to improve gut motility while potentially decreasing anxiety and pain levels in the abdominal area.

Talk to your doctor before using CBD for IBS. They will determine whether CBD is the best option for your needs! It is also essential to choose high-quality products to lower the risk of side effects.

Disclaimer – medicinal cannabis and CBD oil are unapproved medicines in NZ which means that there is no conclusive evidence for their effect, apart from Sativex. Many doctors do not routinely prescribe cannabis medicines. The above article was written for general educational purposes and does not intend to suggest that medicinal cannabis can be used to treat any health condition. Please consult with your healthcare provider.

MBChB (Otago), BSc (Auckland) - As our tele-medicine doctor and author, Dr. Waseem keeps busy educating both patients and doctors about medicinal cannabis. He also consults with people from all over New Zealand, offering a listening ear and giving the most relevant advice.

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