CBD is the word on everyone’s lips, and it has become a household name in the health and wellness industry. Although we are still in the early stages of research into this natural compound, many studies already confirm what researchers have long suspected: CBD possesses some incredible health-supporting benefits.
Attributed to a range of anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties, CBD has been used to treat a range of ailments from anxiety, insomnia, and nausea, to various types of chronic pain.
As it continues to reign supreme amongst the wellness community, it is increasingly being championed as a potential solution for aiding gut and digestive health. In fact, there are already studies pointing towards the efficacy of CBD in the treatment of gut inflammation (IBS) and reducing intestinal damage as a result.
Getting to know your gut
The gut, also referred to as the gastrointestinal system, digestive system, or digestive tract, is comprised of a group of organs, including the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum. But that’s not all it is. The complexity of your gut runs a lot deeper than simply being an area in the body where food is broken down.
The gut is one of the major disease-fighting systems within the human body, and contains it millions of living microbes which we often call good and bad bacteria. Referred to as your ‘gut biome’, this advanced interconnected ecosystem of cells plays a vital role in your wellbeing and influences many aspects of your health, particularly the functions of your brain. This is also why the gut is often referred to as your ‘second brain’.
The gut-brain connection and CBD
What happens within your gut doesn’t always stay there. It is constantly communicating with the brain, sending signals via a crucial ‘highway’ called the vagus nerve. Due to this connection, an unhappy gut can negatively affect other areas of the body such as our mood, concentration, skin and overall wellbeing.
Your body’s brain-gut communication also takes place through your endocannabinoid system (ECS) which controls the central nervous system, and the peripheral nervous system. This system regulates functions like appetite and digestion, temperature, inflammation, mood, and memory, and whenever a health issue arises in the body (particularly in your gut), your ECS releases compounds called cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) in order to restore balance.
Since CBD is jam-packed with natural cannabinoids (the most important being cannabidiol), it has been linked to supporting the functions of ECS to stay on track. This, in turn, can help regulate healthy and efficient communication between the gut and the brain, promoting overall balance and harmony.
CBD’s gut connection to inflammation
From chronic constipation and fatigue to irregular periods, an inflamed gut can cause multiple problems throughout the body, especially since gut inflammation can set off a similar inflammatory responses elsewhere.
There is still a way to go, but recent studies using mice show that CBD can assist in regulating both acute and systemic inflammation in the body by preventing the production of these inflammatory cells (called interleukins). This also is why those suffering from IBS, colitis, gas, bloating, and damage to the gut lining often cite many therapeutic benefits of using CBD. What we do know so far is promising, and since CBD has shown to help with pain, there’ no reason to believe that it can’t get to work on important systems like the gut.
What we also know is that CBD interacts well with the body’s serotonin receptors by reducing anandamide deficiencies in the brain to positively impact your emotional wellbeing. In other words, CBD can help to alleviate stress and anxiety, and since these factors contribute to IBS and other gut imbalances, it can play a role in minimising these symptoms. Remember, your gut and brain speak the same language and are in constant communication, so if your mind is calm and content, chances are your gut will be too.
Keeping your gut healthy
At the end of the day, CBD is not a cure-all remedy, and aside from trying CBD-infused products to assist in maintaining our gut health, there are a few things we can do collectively to achieve an overall sense of balance. These include:
- Reducing and managing stress. This could be any daily practice to help quiet the mind, such as meditation, reading a relaxation exercise, or simply taking a few moments out of your day to reflect and unwind.
- Eating well. In general, a healthy diet is one that’s high in fibre, moderate in protein, and low in fat. Avoid processed foods and limiting the intake of processed meats as well as sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Rather try to introduce probiotic-rich foods packed such as yoghurt, kimchi, and kombucha.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity can increase the risk for diseases like oesophagal, gastric, colon, pancreatic, and other cancers. It also increases the risk for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and fatty liver disease.
- Staying active. Maintaining physical activity is important to a healthy gastrointestinal tract, as well as your body, and mind (since these are connected). Walking after meals can help to avoid constipation and bloating.
- Getting screened. Generally, men and women, on average risk, should start screening for colon cancer at the age around 50. However, those with a family history of colon polyps or cancer or should talk with their doctors about screening from a younger age.
Your gut is like a unique fingerprint. Everyone’s system different, so the way you use CBD will be different to the way someone else may be using it. If you’re interested in taking CBD-infused products to assist with gut health, try starting with the lowest dose and work your way up. This is especially important if you have a sensitive stomach or acute digestive problems. The wonderful thing about CBD is that it is non-toxic and extremely safe, so it can be used as part of a proactive plan to help keep your gut happy and your health on track.