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CBD's Impact on Digestion, the Gut, and Brain Health

Updated: Mar 27


Do you struggle with gut problems?


  • Constipation (less than 1 BM daily)

  • Diarrhea (more than 3 BMs daily)

  • Stress related gut changes

  • Indigestion or reflux

  • Excess gas or bloating of the abdomen


Do you have any mental health issues?

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Bipolar

  • ADHD

  • Memory problems

  • Poor motivation

  • Inability to think clearly


All of these are signs that your gut function is off. I recently wrote another blog on stress and the many impacts it has on the body, including the gut and brain. You can read more on stress here. I also have written about the gut-brain-axis and the interconnection of gut function and brain function here.


For the purpose of this article, I want to discuss the use of CBD as a powerful agent to restore gut and brain function. Utilizing CBD can help people develop more energy, get better sleep, utilize their food more efficiently, eliminate symptoms of depression and anxiety, and remove those pesky gut issues!


What is CBD and how does it work?


CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is a chemical that can be extracted from hemp and cannabis plants. This chemical is capable of binding to cannabinoid receptors in the human body, which creates a modulating effect on how our internal cannabinoid system works (the endocannabinoid system). It was in the 1980's that scientists first discovered that every cell in our body contains cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2 receptors) and that this system provides a way to regulate many functions. Humans produce their own cannabinoids which are used to regulate every organ system in the body, for example:


  • The “fight or flight” stress response (autonomic nervous system and HPA-axis)

  • The entire digestive system

  • The immune system and inflammation

  • The endocrine organs functions (e.g. thyroid, adrenals)

  • The balance of neurotransmitter receptors for serotonin, GABA, and dopamine


CBD used as a supplement/medicine attaches to our own cannabinoid receptors and makes them more receptive to other cannabinoids (like our internal production of anandamide or to THC from marijuana that looks just like anandamide). As a result, taking CBD can induce powerful changes in many systems.


CBD and the Gut


When it comes to the digestive system, the ECS (endocannabinoid system) impacts gut motility (how frequently bowels are moved). CBD can help support healthy bowel movements and motility through calming down the CB1 receptors and optimizing CB2 receptors of the enteric nervous system (the nerves that control our gut). The result is an increase in the neurotransmitter serotonin, which gets the gut to move as well as makes us feel happier.


Furthermore, CBD and the ECS produce a direct inhibition of inflammatory pathways that contribute to damage of the gut lining. As a result, CBD has proven very useful in treating inflammatory bowel issues such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and IBD (colitis, Crohn's, etc), and intestinal permeability (leaky gut).


CBD and the Brain / Nervous System


In our Western culture we tend to exist predominantly in a high anxiety or stressed out state. This results in a constant bombardment of stress hormones, which simultaneously up-regulates our SNS (sympathetic nervous system) and down regulates the PNS (parasympathetic nervous system). The PNS is responsible for activating our digestive organs and in this chronic shut-down state we see poor digestion, poor absorption of nutrients, more constipation or diarrhea, and more diseases of the gut. The up-regulation of the SNS leads to more anxiety, depression, and feelings of stress. CBD has the power to flip how these two branches of the autonomic nervous system are functioning and ultimately reduce our stress/anxiety response and help us regain our gut function.


What Dr. Klinghardt, MD is saying about CBD and the Covid-19 Virus:


CBD is great at preventing cytokine storms, the major pathology behind complications and deaths from this virus. It shows incredible immune regulation against past corona viruses, which makes it look very promising for covid-19. If you can find a product with a small amount of THC it will be more effective, especially since THC is also great for anxiety. Ultimately, he believes it will end up being a miracle drug when it comes to preventing and treating this illness.


If I want to try CBD what should I know?


CBD is often confused with marijuana or THC. While marijuana does contain CBD, most CBD extractions are made from hemp and contain no THC. This means it is not psycho-active and will not get you "high." As a result, it is generally very safe. However, as it is capable of modulating so many systems of the body, it should only be used in coordination with your doctor. You will want to work with a professional that understands your health history, medications, and supplements to best advise on whether a CBD product is a good fit for you. If you are free of major health issues and do not take medications it is likely safe to try out. When dosing start low and slow with just a few drops at first. Not all products are created equal; in fact there are a lot of bad quality, ineffective, and contaminated CBD products on the market. A recent study of 84 CBD products bought online showed that more than a quarter of the products contained less CBD than labeled and 18 of them contained THC, so you have to know the company is a good one. Use a reputable company that gives you access to their certificate of analysis and offers full traceability. Choose CBD from FULL SPECTRUM hemp extracts as they are full of flavanoids, sterols, fats, and terpenes that enhance the effects.


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REFERENCES:


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2. Wong, B. S. et al. Pharmacogenetic trial of a cannabinoid agonist shows reduced fasting colonic motility in patients with nonconstipated irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterol 141, 1638–1647 (2011).

3. Hermanson, D. J. & Marnett, L. J. Cannabinoids, endocannabinoids and cancer. Cancer Metastasis Rev 30, 599–612 (2011).

4. D’argenio, G. et al. Overactivity of the intestinal endocannabinoid system in celiac disease and in methotrexate-treated rats. J Mol Med 85, 523–530 (2007).

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inflammatory hypermotility in mice. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2008 Jun 30; 154(5)1001.

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8. Alhouayek M, Muccioli GG. The endocannabinoid system in inflammatory bowel diseases: from pathophysiology to therapeutic opportunity. Trends Mol Med. 2012 Oct;18(10):615-25.

9. Hasenoehrl C, Taschler U, Storr M, Schicho R. The gastrointestinal tract – a central organ of cannabinoid signaling in health and disease. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2016 Dec;28(12):1765-1780.

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© 2013-2020 by Derrick Schull, N.D.