The digestive system is an incredibly important and complex part of our body that plays a vital role in maintaining overall health and wellbeing. It not only breaks down food, but also helps with the absorption of essential nutrients, helps to eliminate waste from the body, and even has a major impact on our mental health. Recent technological advances have enabled us to gain a deeper understanding of how the microbial composition of our gut affects our overall wellbeing.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has recently gained popularity as an effective therapeutic option for many different conditions due to its potential for treating both physical and mental issues. Research has indicated that CBD oil can have positive effects on gut health by regulating hormones and neurotransmitters associated with digestion and providing anti-inflammatory properties which help boost immunity. It may also be beneficial in reducing stress, which can have an indirect effect on gastrointestinal function by helping to enhance the barrier function of the gut lining.
The connection between your gut and your brain is undeniably significant when it comes to maintaining optimal health and wellbeing. Cannabidiol offers considerable therapeutic potential when it comes to treating various medical conditions related to digestion while still being safe and natural – making it an attractive solution for many people looking for relief from their gastrointestinal woes without having to resort to traditional medications or treatments. Read on to discover more about how this plant-based compound can help support your gut health journey.
The Importance of Good Gut Health
The gut microbiome is a collection of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, that inhabit the gut. It plays an important role in our gut health. These microbes interact with our bodies to influence digestion, absorption of nutrients and the immune system’s response to potential pathogens. An imbalance (known as dysbiosis) in this delicate gut ecosystem may cause digestive issues like bloating or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as well as other chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity.
Some of the other risks from long-term poor gut health are:
- High cholesterol
- Heart attack
- Depression and anxiety
The link between the gut microbiome and mental health stems from the good bacteria in the gut producing the neurotransmitter serotonin – the ‘happy hormone’. When there is an imbalance in gut bacteria, serotonin levels are impacted and this could lead to low mood and anxiety.
As long as the vast array of microbes in your gut stays balanced, your physiological and cognitive processes should be working pretty well. Researchers are beginning to understand more about the gut microbiome and its immense impact on gut health. With this knowledge comes new strategies for maintaining a healthy balance of beneficial gut microbes, which could lead to considerable improvements in overall wellness.
What Affects the Gut Microbiome?
There is a range of factors that can negatively affect gut health. These include:
- Some pharmaceutical drugs such as antibiotics
- Processed and refined food
- A diet low in fibre
- Sleep deprivation
Your gut has a profound effect on your overall health, from mental wellness to immunity. And while we can try to minimise our stress levels and reduce our intake of processed foods, unfortunately, some of the factors that impact our gut health are not as easy to control. As a result, many of us are looking for alternative ways in which we can help to keep our gut microbiome as balanced as possible. This may be in the form of natural probiotics, for example, including live yoghurt, miso, kombucha and kefir, or natural calming supplements such as CBD.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is a natural remedy derived from the hemp plant that has gained immense popularity in recent years. It is known scientifically as cannabidiol, and it's a non-intoxicating molecule found in cannabis plants with healing properties such as reducing stress, relieving chronic pain, improving mood, and more. While CBD oil does not get you “high” as THC does, it can have anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects when taken regularly or as needed.
The Endocannabinoid System
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is an important physiological system within the body that plays a role in the regulation of pain, appetite, sleep and other important bodily functions. It is made up of endocannabinoids - molecules found naturally in the body - their receptors, and the enzymes that break them down. This system helps to maintain balance within our bodies by responding to different physical states and changes in the environment.
Endocannabinoids bind to their receptors located in areas such as the immune cells, brain and gut with signalling pathways connected throughout these areas. Endocannabinoids are involved in helping manage conditions and symptoms like inflammation, infertility, nausea, neuropathic pain and others.
When imbalance and low endocannabinoid levels occur, communication within the signalling pathway of the ECS breaks down. This can lead to an increase in ailments such as inflammation, pain, poor cognitive function, insomnia and low mood. Fortunately, the ECS responds to the cannabinoids of the cannabis plant, such as CBD, in a similar manner. Essentially, CBD is capable of mimicking the activity of endocannabinoids by stimulating ECS receptors and helping return the body to a state of balance (homeostasis), including your gut.
So, Can CBD Help Improve Gut Health?
It’s possible that cannabidiol can have a positive impact on gut health and the gut microbiome, but until further human-based research into the link between CBD and the gut is carried out, the evidence is not conclusive. However, preclinical trials and anecdotal reports strongly suggest that CBD has many overall health benefits which are closely linked to a balanced microbiome, as outlined below.
The less stress we experience, the happier our gut. Stress disrupts the gut microbiome which enhances inflammation and decreases the immune response, making us more susceptible to illness and infection. Stress results in high levels of cortisol, which breaks down body tissues and can have a destructive impact on the gastrointestinal tract lining (this can lead to a leaky gut). CBD, which is believed to lower cortisol levels, is widely regarded as a calming supplement with effective anti-stress and anti-anxiety benefits.
Inflammation goes hand in hand with digestive and gut problems. The inflammatory response reduces the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food and can increase diarrhoea symptoms, resulting in dehydration. Studies show that CBD may have powerful anti-inflammatory properties which can lead to a healthier gut.
The immune system is closely linked to the activity of gut microbes, and a significant part of your immune system inhabits the gut. When dysbiosis occurs, the immune system goes into overdrive, triggering inflammation. CBD can support the immune system while reducing inflammation.
How to Take CBD Oil for Digestive Issues and Better Gut Health
While CBD has a high safety profile and very few side effects, the supplement may not be ideal for everyone. Therefore, it is important to consult with your GP or a medical professional, especially if you are taking prescription medication, before using CBD.
There are different types of CBD, but CBD oil or tinctures are frequently used due to their high bioavailability and absorption rates. An effective way to use CBD oil is sublingual; this involves holding the oil under the tongue for at least 60 seconds before swallowing, to enable absorption of CBD into the bloodstream. Expect to wait around 30 minutes to feel any effects. Optimal doses are different for everyone and depend on factors such as body weight and metabolism. Begin with a low dose and gradually build up to observe any benefits and reduce the risk of side effects.
The Best CBD Oil for Gut Health
If you are keen on trying CBD oil to support healthy gut flora, ensure you purchase from a reputable source. Opt for good-quality CBD oil; broad-spectrum if possible (this is THC-free but contains a range of natural hemp cannabinoids and terpenes that can enhance the overall efficacy of the oil). Check the label to ensure the product contains less than 0.2% THC which is the maximum legal UK limit. Reputable brands will ensure that their products are independently laboratory tested and will be able to provide lab reports (also known as Certificates of Analysis) to prove the purity and potency of the product.
CBD can deliver a number of health benefits to improve overall wellness, including gut health. CBD can enhance the immune system, decrease inflammation, reduce stress, support digestion and help to keep the body balanced – all of which are conducive to optimal gut health. When gut flora falls out of whack, it can result in chronic inflammation, malnutrition, digestive ailments such as IBS and even diabetes, heart attack and stroke. But when our gut microbiome is healthy and balanced, we feel better – both physically and mentally. Since CBD is a safe and well-tolerated compound, adding it to your daily routine may be beneficial to your overall health, including your gut.