Can CBD Cause Diarrhea? (And How to Avoid It)

Everyone is quick to share the benefits of CBD, but few people mention the potential side effects. Some people who use CBD experience diarrhea. 

There may be a connection between certain forms of CBD and diarrhea, but things may not be what they seem. Here’s the low-down on CBD and diarrhea, including why they sometimes appear connected and how to prevent it from happening.

How Does CBD Work?

CBD, or cannabidiol, works with the cannabinoid receptors in your body. The human body is full of cannabinoid receptors. They exist within every major system of your body and can play a supportive role in many of the body’s natural functions. 

The human body makes cannabinoids. You have a small metaphorical factory in your body that produces two different types of cannabinoids, called endogenous cannabinoids. 

Medical research has come a long way, but researchers are candid that they’re still not sure what’s going on with endogenous cannabinoids. 

The body makes and uses its cannabinoids so quickly that researchers still don’t know how much of each cannabinoid the body is supposed to make, exactly how they interact with the endocannabinoid system, or what happens if the body doesn’t make enough cannabinoids. They do know that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system. 

CBD has naturally soothing properties. People use CBD to soothe feelings of tension and overwhelm. CBD may also support a good night’s sleep and post-workout recovery. It can address many things that wellness-conscious people often seek to target. 

CBD moves through your digestive system. It eventually reaches your liver, where your body metabolizes it. After your liver metabolizes CBD, it circulates throughout your body. It stimulates all of your cannabinoid receptors along the way, giving your endocannabinoid system the encouragement it needs to function optimally. 

Does CBD Have Side Effects?

Side effects of CBD are very uncommon and usually only occur with large doses. Studies have demonstrated that people can consume up to 1,500 mg of CBD daily without experiencing significant side effects. 

It would be very difficult to consume that much CBD in an entire day. In many cases, it would take more than a whole bottle of CBD oil or several bags of gummies. It would be very difficult to overconsume CBD by accident.

Side effects from excessive amounts of pure CBD include:

  • Nausea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fatigue 
  • Lightheadedness
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite

If you believe you’ve overconsumed CBD, call your doctor. If you can’t get a hold of your doctor, call the emergency department of your local hospital. There is no such thing as a fatal overdose of CBD, but they may want to play it safe and have you come in for an exam. 

Does CBD Cause Diarrhea?

Most people don’t get diarrhea when they use CBD, but you may not be most people. Everyone is different. If you have a sensitive digestive system, you’re probably used to listening to your body. Follow your instincts if you have a literal or metaphorical feeling in your gut.

If you notice that there seems to be a connection between CBD use and diarrhea, you could be right. In some cases, the CBD itself may be the culprit. In most cases, though, the culprit isn’t the CBD itself, but the oil it’s diluted with.

CBD products need to be diluted before use. Pure hemp extract is highly concentrated and very potent. 

Dilution helps reduce CBD's concentration to an appropriate dose for regular use. Every millimeter of CBD oil comes blended as a serving size, and there are typically 30 serving sizes in a bottle. Dilution keeps things easy.

CBD oil is CBD suspended in a carrier oil, like medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil derived from coconuts, extra virgin olive oil, or hemp seed oil. CBD all on its own is very unlikely to cause diarrhea, but a dropper full of oil can certainly cause diarrhea. 

Fatty and oily foods are a known culprit for causing diarrhea. The problem may not be the CBD but the way you consume it. CBD oil isn't the best form of CBD for you if you’re prone to diarrhea, or if oily or greasy foods upset your stomach. You should avoid CBD oils if they cause you digestive distress.

While You’re at It, Check Your Diet

If you started a comprehensive wellness regimen that involved a major change in diet, exercise, and supplements, it could be a culmination of things that caused your tummy trouble. When you radically change your habits very quickly, it’s a little bit of a shock to your system. 

A new workout routine, meal-prepping plan, and a rapid change in diet can be a little stressful. It’s all for a good reason, but getting used to things will take a while. In the meantime, it can throw off many processes within your body, including digestion.

As ambitious as you might be to take control of your wellness, it may be better to make small and sustainable changes over a longer period. You may also be more likely to stick to a healthy lifestyle if you comfortably ease yourself into it. 

You need to be sure that the timing of your diarrhea and CBD use isn’t coincidental. Something else could be causing tummy trouble. You may be sick or developing food intolerance. The tap water at your new apartment might not be great to drink. 

If your diarrhea is severe or lasts longer than a day or two, you need to talk to your doctor. In the meantime, stop using supplements and switch to a bland diet. 

Many people find success with a modernized version of the BRAT diet. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, but the modernized version of the diet includes more foods that are helpful to the body when you experience nausea or diarrhea. 

How Can I Avoid Diarrhea When I Use CBD?

Changing the way you use CBD can help you avoid diarrhea. Try adjusting your wellness routine to see if it solves the issue. 

Go without CBD oil for a week and resume your normal daily diet and activities. Reintroduce CBD with a different approach.

Use the Appropriate Amount of CBD

Excessive consumption of CBD products can cause digestive upset. A little bit of CBD goes a long way. Since CBD is not a vitamin or a nutrient, there is no official recommendation for how much CBD you should take. 

The CBD wellness community agrees that 25 mg of CBD per day is perfect for general wellness. People who need consistent relief throughout the day will often use 25 mg of CBD in the morning and another 25 mg at night for 50 mg daily. 

Don’t Use CBD on an Empty Stomach

Consuming oil on an empty stomach is likely to cause diarrhea. When nothing but oil passes through your digestive system, it may have a laxative effect. 

Don’t use CBD oil on an empty stomach. Eat a small, balanced meal first. The CBD oil will combine with the food, giving it a bit of a buffer.

Switch From Oil to a Different Form of CBD

You don’t need to use oil if you’re having a problem with it. There are many forms of CBD. Choose the form that will work best for you.

CBD edibles are usually a better solution for people who have sensitive stomachs. CBD-infused gummies are very easy to use. You can use them like you’d use any other gummy supplement. 

They’re also easy to dose appropriately. You don’t need to measure out any drops. One gummy contains an exact dose of CBD.

If you’re using CBD to soothe feelings of soreness in your body, switch from oral CBD to topical CBD. Topical CBD products contain other skin-soothing ingredients to create a cooling sensation, soothing minor aches. Topical CBD never reaches your digestive system, so it can’t cause diarrhea. 

Last but not least, there are also CBD vapor cartridges. Vapor reaches your endocannabinoid system while completely bypassing your digestive system. Vaping involves inhaling something into your lungs, and there are risks associated with vaping. Therefore, we don’t recommend vaping as a delivery method for CBD. The benefits might not be worth the risks, especially since many other forms of CBD exist. 

Pure Relief Makes CBD Easy

Pure Relief’s hemp-derived CBD gummies aren’t oily. If oil upsets your tummy and gummy candy or supplements work fine for you, give our gummies a shot. Each gummy contains 25 mg of CBD, giving you the perfect wellness dose in a single tasty bite.


Is something in your diet causing diarrhea? | Harvard Health

Stress and The Sensitive Gut | Harvard Health Publishing

BRAT Diet | The Oregon Clinic

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