Is There a Connection Between CBD and Gut Health?

Caught up in today’s busy life, maintaining good gut health is something we tend to overlook frequently. We may be distracted by more pressing issues such as a bad migraine, or watching out for any symptoms of Covid-19, to really focus on any problems that may arise down there. However, little do we realise that the healthy functioning of our gut – the whole intestinal tract – is critical for nearly every aspect of our physical and mental health.

CBD is a popular health supplement that is creating a huge buzz in the wellness world nowadays. However, very few people are aware of the connection between CBD and gut health and the potential health benefits of CBD for those suffering from gut and digestive issues.

Before we explore in detail how CBD benefits gut health, let’s first see why gut health is so important to begin with.

Gut Health: Why Is It So Important?

The gut is the main defence mechanism your body has against harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The intestinal lining protects any toxins or harmful bacteria from entering the bloodstream through the digestive tract. Therefore, ensuring the smooth functioning of your gut is tremendously important for your overall good health and well-being.

Many are surprised to know that the gut is not just responsible for the digestion and absorption of nutrients. Rather, it has several vital functions that help maintain balance throughout the entire body. The gut affects the immune system function, synthesis of vitamins and important nutrients, and breakdown of harmful food compounds. It also ensures the optimal performance of various physiological processes. These include important functions such as regulation of hormones, regular cell generation, eradication of toxic compounds, as well as combatting harmful viruses and bacteria.

The gut is not just a metaphor for your basic instincts and courage. In reality, it is perhaps the second most crucial part of your body after the brain. This is the reason why it’s popularly referred to as the ‘second brain’. Researchers have found a correlation between gut health and brain function. There is direct communication that occurs between the two, a relationship called the ‘gut-brain axis’. This also sheds light on why we use the term ‘gut feeling’ and its connection to reasoning.

Around 90 per cent of the body’s serotonin – the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter – is manufactured in the gut. This signals to your brain that your body is running smoothly without any problems.

Gut in Trouble: Health Consequences

Your body is only in a state of perfect equilibrium when there is a healthy balance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut. If there is any injury or inflammation in the gut, it can leak harmful toxins into your bloodstream. This is known as intestinal permeability or, more commonly, ‘leaky gut syndrome’. 

With any sort of inflammation or irritants in your bloodstream, the immune system goes into full combat mode and starts attacking the problem. This results in symptoms that you can address with medications. An imbalance in the gut can cause problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and may even hamper proper kidney function. Moreover, an unhealthy gut may also cause common health issues such as bloating, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhoea. To avoid all these problems, your gut, therefore, needs special attention to remain healthy.

CBD-ECS Connection

Before we finally discuss the CBD-gut connection, it is important to first get an idea about the CBD-ECS connection. The Endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the body’s system for modulating several physical and neurological functions. It has three major components, namely:

  • Endocannabinoids
  • Receptors
  • Enzymes

Some studies have found that CBD gives a boost to your body’s ECS, resulting in a quicker action against any issue. For instance, if you suffer from inflammation in some parts of your body, CBD can help boost the ECS’s performance and potentially reduce the inflammation faster than usual.

CBD: The Connection With Gut Health

Both CB-1 and CB-2 receptors, which are an important component of the endocannabinoid system, can be found in the gut. This further supports the case that the ECS is quite involved in gut health. CBD, a cannabinoid, can impact the ECS’s receptor activity, potentially hindering the progression of certain diseases and alleviating minor health concerns. The following are some of the ways that CBD can help in supporting a healthy gut:

  •  Inflammation and CBD

Several studies have explored CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to regulate both acute and systemic inflammation. This is done by hindering the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and suppressing the release of TNF-alpha, one of the many inflammatory compounds released when the gut’s inflammatory response is triggered.

A 2011 study observed CBD’s potential to inhibit intestinal inflammation. Researchers examined the rectal biopsies of ulcerative colitis patients and concluded that the administration of CBD did have significant therapeutic benefits for inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis (a condition where ulcers form in the large intestine and rectum).

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and CBD

The symptoms of IBS can be truly agonising and are categorised by episodes of cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, or constipation. Doctors usually prescribe opioids and antidepressants to IBS patients. However, these don’t provide significant relief for many IBS patients.

A recent study published last year explored ways to exploit the ECS to benefit IBS patients. While CBD does play a part in desensitising the TRPV1 receptor that is responsible for modulating pain and inflammation, there is a lack of conclusive evidence on CBD’s complete potential interaction. More research and human trials are needed to reach a definite conclusion.

  • Leaky Gut and CBD

A leaky gut can happen when there is any damage in the small intestine. This results in undigested food, waste products and bacteria leaking through the intestine into the bloodstream. This can cause symptoms like fatigue, bloating, skin problems and other digestive issues. When the gut leaks out harmful toxins, your immune system goes into overdrive. CBD can help enhance the immune system response and fight this leak efficiently.

A 2019 study showed that CBD and PEA (a fatty acid produced by the body that reduces pain caused by inflammation) together reduced permeability in the colon. This could be beneficial for people suffering from leaky gut or other IBD issues.

  •  Gut Motility and CBD

Good gut motility ensures an effortless bowel movement. If the motility is too fast, then you can suffer from loose motions or diarrhoea. If it’s too slow, you can feel constipated and bloated. CBD can potentially aid in regulating your gut motility. This ensures the healthy working of your digestive system. CBD can also help regulate appetite, which can be quite useful, especially if you suffer from bloating as a result of eating too much or too frequently.

Key Takeaways

There is no doubt that a healthy gut is vital for overall good health. CBD can help support the good bacteria that live in your gut and help enhance the functioning of the ECS, which in turn could ensure that the gut remains fit and healthy. 

While there are some studies that show a positive effect of CBD on gut health, there is a need for more research and human trials. Furthermore, keep in mind that CBD is a health supplement and not an alternative to any medication for gut issues. You should consult your doctor before starting any supplement regimen.

Finally, remember to buy authentic CBD products from reputable CBD brands that show proof of third-party lab testing. When it comes to your health and well-being, you should not take any risks!

The post Is There a Connection Between CBD and Gut Health? first appeared on CBD Village UK.

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