What is IBS?
IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Specifically, it is a group of symptoms which include abdominal pain and changes in the pattern of bowel movements, but without any evidence of underlying damage. Symptoms can occur over a long time, often years.
In this article, we explore what are the causes of IBS and whether CBD can help with managing IBS symptoms.
Approximately 1 in 5 People in the UK Suffer from IBS of which 40% have mild symptoms, 35% have moderate symptoms and 25% are severe sufferers. The most common disorders seen by doctors is IBS.
It is estimated that IBS costs society through direct and indirect costs around £7 billion annually. IBS affects 35-40% of males and in 60-65% of females.
What causes IBS?
A combination of conditions appear to cause IBS. Some of these are:
- increased squeezing of the muscles in the wall of your bowel
- increased sensitivity to pain from inside your bowel
- inflammation of your bowel, caused by an infection, such as gastroenteritis
- your genes – you may inherit IBS
- an imbalance in the bacteria in your intestine
- abdominal or pelvic surgery
Physical or sexual abuse may also be a risk factor.
The Brain-Gut Connection in IBS
Unlike visible diseases, researchers have looked beyond the gut and toward the complex communication systems that connect the gut to the brain to understand what is going wrong. IBS is far from simple.
The communication pathways
Communication among all of the parts of our bodies occurs through the passing of information between nerves.
There are two distinct pathways of communication:
i) The Central Nervous system (CNS) – the brain and the spinal cord
ii) Peripheral nervous system (PNS) – pathways that extend beyond the brain and spinal cord
The Enteric nervous system (ENS) is a part of the PNS that is responsible for regulating the process of digestion. The ENS is a web of sensory neurons, motor neurons, and interneurons embedded in the wall of the gastrointesinal system, stretching from the lower third of the esophagus right through to the rectum. The ENS manages motility (movement of muscles), secretion of fluid and blood flow. Understanding the ENS is essential in understanding causes of IBS. See more information here.
Our body’s Endocannabinoid System
Our bodies’ own ‘cannabinoid-like molecules’ and associated receptors and metabolic machinery – collectively called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) are composed of endocannabinoids. The endocannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors (CBRs – CB1 /CB2), and cannabinoid receptor proteins found throughout the CNS and PNS.
The cannabinoids found in plants are called phytocannabinoids.
According to research by DiPatrizio, “evidence suggests that dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system might play a role in intestinal disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, as well as obesity”
Maintaining ECS balance for a healthier body
Can CBD help with managing IBS? Taking CBD adds phytocannabinoids into yours body’s system which goes toward regulating and maintaining the endocannabionoids. The phytocannabinoids boost the body’s own endocannabinoids and help put the ECS into a balanced state or ‘homeostasis’.
If an outside force such as pain from an injury or a fever throws off your body’s homeostasis, your ECS kicks in to help your body return to its ideal operation.
An imbalance of the ECS is thought to be linked to:
- appetite and digestion
- chronic pain
- inflammation and other immune system responses
- mood/ stress
Can CBD help manage IBS
CBD or hemp oil is derived from industrial hemp plants which are bred specifically to be high in CBD compounds. They contain only trace amount of THC (the ‘high’ compound).
The World Health Organization considers CBD to be safe. This means that there is no harm in giving it a go. Cannabis has been used medicinally for centuries to treat a variety of disorders, including those associated with the gastrointestinal tract.
A doctor can help you determine the right dosage to start, and how to keep tabs on your intake. Note the dosage you take and the effects it’s having on you. Adjust dosage as required to find the perfect amount that helps you.
Consuming broad or full spectrum CBD products like our cbd oils encourage the ‘entourage effect’ as the various cannabinoids in the CBD all work together in a beneficial manner.
CBD that is free from pesticides is vitally important as this may cause further gut distress.