Irritable bowel syndrome (irritable bowel syndrome, colon irritabile, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS) used to be known as intestinal neurosis. And while this is probably surprising, it is an ailment that has a greater negative impact on people's quality of life than asthma, depression, migraine or diabetes, and is the second cause of absenteeism from work or school after the common cold. Added to this is the lack of knowledge about what causes IBS, the often inaccurate diagnosis and the ineffective treatment. Inappropriate selection of medicines, which carry many adverse effects, is also quite common. Many sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome therefore turn to alternative therapies. One preparation that is increasingly being used as a supportive treatment is CBD oils.
What is irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is often confused with other conditions, such as SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth syndrome) or Crohn's disease. The most characteristic symptoms of IBS are spasmodic, burning or stabbing abdominal pain, a feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen, a sensation of fullness, constipation sometimes alternating with diarrhoea and a feeling of 'overflowing' and as if 'rolling' in the abdomen.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a recurrent disease. It affects people of all ages, but it is predominantly a young adult affliction and more women than men suffer from it.
The causes of irritable bowel syndrome are not known, but it is thought that it could be a gastrointestinal infection, but also stress or an imbalance in the intestinal ecosystem. Doctors also see a link between IBS and depression, panic, anxiety and other mental health disorders.
As is the case when it comes to research on hemp and its properties, there is little clinical research on its effectiveness in treating IBS, although hemp oils have been used for centuries in Eastern or folk medicine as an excellent remedy for gastrointestinal problems. But while there are not many studies, the ones that are available already testify to the great potential of CBD in regulating bowel function. For example, they have shown that endogenous cannabinoids have a modulating effect on neurons in the gut, and that activating cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) inhibits the excessive secretion of gastrointestinal fluid and, with anti-inflammatory properties, inhibits intestinal inflammation. But that is not all. CBD also exhibits antiemetic and analgesic effects.
Cannabinoids and inflammation and intestinal sensitivity
Dr E. Russo was not the only one to conduct research, also K.L. Wright and K.A. Sharkey, who leaned into cannabinoids in the context of sensitivity and inflammation that arises in the gut. Their research proved that such treatments can be effective.
Then, in 2011, Belgian and Italian researchers found that CBD was able to open up new possibilities for patients to treat their irritable bowel syndrome complaints. At the same time, the use of CBD is not associated with the appearance of side effects, including psychoactive ones. Cannabidiol has produced very satisfying results by re-modulating the abnormal response of the immune system to both external and internal factors. This is all a result of binding to receptors found in the human body.
Unfortunately, few studies have been and are being conducted CBD in the context of cannabidiol's effect on the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. CBD oil has such a broad spectrum of effects on a great many diseases that scientists tend to focus on its 'more important' possibilities, such as the use of CBD in cancer therapies. But already the research results that are available are extremely promising. Material published in 2016 by Dr Russo reports evidence of genetic changes in the coding of the endocannabinoid system in people who had been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and suffered from diarrhoea. This ailment, along with spontaneous and unpredictable abdominal cramps caused by excessive intestinal motility, essentially disappeared after cannabinoid therapy and the frequency of the cramps slowed down markedly, facilitating the return of the intestines to normal functioning.
And there is another aspect of the effect of CBD oils on the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, namely the effect on perceived pain. This property of cannabidiol is already quite well studied and cannabinoids are known to have an analgesic effect.
It can therefore be seen that the use of CBD oils in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome can help many patients, but the results of authoritative studies are still to come.
- "Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD): can this concept explain therapeutic benefits of cannabis in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other treatment-resistant conditions?"; by Ethan B Russo; 2004; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15159679/
- "Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered: Current Research Supports the Theory in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel, and Other Treatment-Resistant Syndromes"; by Ethan B Russo; 2016; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28861491/
- "Endocannabinoid system in irritable bowel syndrome and cannabis as a therapy"; authors Samiksha Pandey, Saima Kashif, Mina Youssef et al, 2020; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0965229919310179