Why Eat CBD?
CBD, otherwise known as Cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring compound found in cannabis and hemp. Non-psychoactive in nature, it has a whole host of health boosting properties such as being anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, immune system regulating, and pain relieving.
Scientists are still not 100% sure about how CBD works. What they do know is that it indirectly activates the endocannabinoid system - the body’s complex network of special receptors and cannabis-like chemicals, called endocannabinoids, that work to regulate biological functions such as sleep, appetite, pain, mood, and reproduction. But perhaps more interestingly, CBD directly stimulates many other non-endocannabinoid receptors related to mood, the immune system, inflammation, and cell growth.
But it’s the anti-inflammatory nature of CBD that brings relief to many Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) sufferers, and that accounts for why ingesting CBD orally is a good idea for IBD conditions and general gut health.
CBD can be taken in different ways: CBD drops, vaping and even CBD suppositories. For most of us, the most convenient and familiar way is to take CBD is orally in the form of capsules. We know we’re getting a standardised dose, there’s no hempy taste, and it’s easy and convenient.
But taking CBD orally doesn’t necessarily offer the highest absorption rates, because during digestion much of the CBD is metabolised before it reaches the bloodstream. However, eating CBD or taking CBD capsules does have a longer-lasting effect, making it a particular favourite for people with chronic health conditions, such as autoimmune or inflammatory bowel diseases.
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Looking After Your Gut Health
They say ‘you are what you eat’, but perhaps it would be more accurate to say ‘you are what you digest your food with.’ That’s because the health of our digestive tract, otherwise known as the gut, is crucial to our overall well-being. Not only does it contain at least 70% of the body’s immune cells, but it is even considered our second brain due to the extensive network of neurons, chemicals and hormones constantly relaying messages about the state of our digestive system and warnings of microbial attacks. However, thanks to modern toxins such as stress, over-prescription of antibiotics, the side effects of medication, and an unhealthy diet, our guts are suffering more than ever before, with approximately 3 million adults in the US alone having some kind of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Another biological communication network very much involved in regulating our gut health is the endocannabinoid system, which in cases of IBD works overtime in order to reduce excess inflammation. Unfortunately, the body’s own natural endocannabinoids are not always enough to combat an overactive immune system, and scientists such as Ethan Russo, who developed the theory of endocannabinoid deficiency, suggests supplementing with anti-inflammatory phytocannabinoids from the cannabis plant.
CBD Promotes Gut Health
This is where CBD may come to the fore as, unlike THC, it reduces inflammation without any psychoactive effects, making it more tolerable and easier to take. Plus, unlike THC, products containing CBD are legal to buy throughout the world.
But how does CBD reduce inflammation? Spanish cannabinoid scientist Ekaitz Agirregoitia, an IBD sufferer himself, explains: “Cytokines (proteins active in cell signalling and the immune response) appear from T cells. TH-1 is proinflammatory and TH-2 is not proinflammatory. It is suggested that cannabinoids change TH-1 to TH-2, thus bringing about an anti-inflammatory effect. CBD can inhibit COX enzyme which is responsible for the inflammatory effect.”
Another possible reason for CBD’s anti-inflammatory action is that it activates the Vanilloid receptor (TRPV-1), known to mediate pain perception, inflammation and body temperature.
So if CBD reduces inflammation, what effect does it have on conditions like Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), all of which are characterised by inflammation in the gut?
According to the paper entitled ‘Cannabidiol in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: A Brief Overview’, the positive effects of CBD on these conditions are clear. They concluded that “the beneficial and immunomodulatory effects of CBD have been widely evidenced in experimental animal models of IBD. This compound possesses an extraordinary range of beneficial effects that may slow the course of the disease, ameliorate symptoms and potentially increase the efficacy of the drugs actually available for the therapy of invalidating gut disorders such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.”
It is further suggested that CBD modulates the neuroimmune axis in the intestine, as it can control the intestinal inflammation, reducing the damage caused during these inflammatory states. Welcome news for anyone facing an unpleasant future of surgical procedures to remove parts of their damaged colon caused by IBD.