When you experience digestive discomfort regularly, it can be hard to enjoy daily life. It can make it challenging to work at home or on your job when you are plagued with gas, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and pain. These types of recurring digestive issues are referred to as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
When It comes to curing IBS, there really isn’t one yet. However, it can be treated. Cannabidiol (CBD) has become a very popular natural supplement millions of people use to help some of their medical and mental conditions. CBD can be derived from marijuana and hemp plants. Although most studies are inconclusive about the effectiveness of CBD as a medicine, it hasn’t stopped people from trying it to treat some symptoms. Could CBD be a way to help ease the symptoms of IBS?
What Causes IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome can be a temporary condition caused by a bacteria or virus in the large intestine. For some people, it can be a long-term or a life-long condition. According to WEB MD, up to 20% of American adults can suffer from IBS at some point in their lives. The specific symptoms and the severity can vary from person to person. Some people may only suffer from occasional bouts of IBS while others can deal with it almost all of the time.
While you might think the cause of IBS would be easy to clarify, doctors are not sure. Sometimes those with IBS may have a more sensitive colon than others. In some cases, a person’s brain might perceive gut contractions associated with the digestion process more acutely than others.
For some people with IBS, the immune system may respond differently to infection and stress. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter produced in the gut, and it may act on the nerves in the digestive tract. For those that have frequent bouts of diarrhea, serotonin levels may be high. For those that suffer more from constipation, serotonin levels might be too low.
Changes in the hormonal system may also trigger IBS. It is thought that up to 70% of those that deal with IBS are women. One study published in the journal Gastroenterology analyzed data from researchers that showed certain DNA variants relating to chromosome 9 were linked to an increased risk of IBS in females. Chromosome 9 is thought to influence at what age women have their first menstrual cycle.
Symptoms Of IBS
It is not uncommon to experience digestive issues occasionally because you eat something that doesn’t agree with you or you catch a stomach bug of some kind. It is different for those with persistent IBS. IBS can produce different types of symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) is one type. IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D) in another. Then there is Irritable bowel syndrome that alternates between constipation and diarrhea (IBS-A).
Some symptoms of IBS-C include feelings of a rock or block in the stomach. You may have excessive gas, three bowel movements or less per week, hard or lumpy stools, and feelings of an incomplete bowel movement. IBS-C could be genetic if you have family members that also have IBS-C. IBS-C can carry underlying inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract (GI). It could be related to a previous bacterial infection. Another indicator could be your brain is not providing the right signals that should regulate intestinal movements.
Symptoms of IBS-D include increased bouts of diarrhea. It can cause belly pain, loose stool, and the urge for frequent bowel movements. Women, family members that also have IBS-D, and those under the age of 50 may be more prone to IBS-D. IBS-D can also be caused by things like bacteria, stress, and reactions to certain foods. While IBS-C may be caused by the brain not responding enough to signals that control your colon, IBS-D may react too much. The results of IBS-D can make your intestines squeeze too hard. This can make food move too fast through your digestive system and cause diarrhea, pain, and gas.
Symptoms of IBS-A may include all of the above symptoms. IBS-A can be one of the most confusing and hard to deal with forms of IBS. You may never know what to expect. One day you may have intestinal pain, bloating, gas, and constipation, and the next day you may have pain, gas, mucus in the stool, and diarrhea! You may feel like you can’t have a complete bowel movement even though you have diarrhea. It can make for a very conflicted week. This is referred to as mixed bowel habits. Most people experience mixed bowel habits from time to time, but having IBS-A all of the time is not normal.
Severe IBS may include diarrhea at night and weight loss. You may have rectal bleeding, iron deficiency, unexplained vomiting, difficultly swallowing, or when passing gas or a bowel movement does not relieve pain.
Treatment For IBS
Like treatments for most medical conditions, they are provided to give cures or relief of symptoms. Treatment will depend on the IBS condition you have. How well your IBS treatment works depends on what treatment you are given and how well you respond to it.
There are dietary, pharmacological, and behavioral approaches that can help. They can be individualized for you. IBS does not necessarily increase your risk of a worse condition. The best way to determine if your IBS is a concerning issue is to see your doctor and have appropriate tests to rule out any other medical conditions.
Changes In Diet
A bad diet can contribute to IBS symptoms. Fatty foods and caffeine may stimulate colonic responses. Limiting these sources may help alleviate diarrhea symptoms. People that deal with bloating and stomach pain could benefit from eating less food containing carbohydrates that digest less well in the small intestine. Foods larger in lactose, fructose, and sorbitol could increase intestinal gas. Some healthy foods like fruits and vegetables may contain fermentable carbohydrates and fiber. This is another intestinal gas producer.
Does CBD Help IBS?
There is growing evidence that CBD can help treat some medical conditions like seizures caused by some rare types of epilepsy. The FDA has approved one CBD-based drug called Epidiolex for those seizures. Other studies of CBD have suggested it could be helpful to reduce pain, inflammation, and anxiety. Pain and inflammation can be symptoms of IBS, so CBD might be useful to treat those things.
Even though CBD will not cure IBS, some people using CBD report that it helps ease some of their symptoms. CBD is thought by some researchers to promote calm and relaxation. If your IBS is caused by stress and anxiety, CBD might be worth a try. IBS can also cause sleep issues because of the disturbance in your digestive system during the night. CBD has been studied for sleep disorders and there is some suggestion it might be helpful.
Whenever you decide to try a natural product like CBD, you always want to check with your doctor to see if it could be a treatment option. Depending on where you live, you could use CBD-derived from marijuana. CBD derived from marijuana contains more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC causes intoxication. The type of CBD is only legal to use in the US states that have legalized marijuana.
CBD-derived from hemp is legal nationwide. Hemp-derived CBD can only contain up to 0.3% THC and will not cause intoxication. You can purchase Hemp-derived CBD in some stores and online. Always read the labels of any CBD products you buy carefully. You want to make sure it is produced by a reputable company that uses quality control methods. This will ensure you are getting an authentic, high-quality CBD product.