Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Cannabidiol (CBD) relieves a wide range of symptoms. You may know it helps with pain and sleep problems, but what about constipation? Discover how CBD works with your natural systems to reduce this common symptom.
When you experience constipation, you have three or fewer bowel movements a week. Most cases of constipation last for a short time, but the symptoms can feel unpleasant. However, some people have chronic constipation, which has a negative impact on your bowel movements for a long time.
You can have one of three types of constipation:
The type of constipation you have changes the approaches you can take to relieve your symptoms. For example, while healthy habits help patients with atonic constipation, obstructive constipation needs medical attention.
As part of a comprehensive treatment plan, CBD can address the causes and symptoms of constipation. It helps your natural functions work the way they should.
We all have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that makes and uses cannabinoids, the substances found in marijuana. Our ECS also creates its own cannabinoids called endocannabinoids. The ECS includes two types of receptors that bind to cannabinoids, CB1 and CB2. You can find CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout the body, including in the gut.
The ECS regulates the gut/brain connection through CB1 receptors. Our brain and gut communicate to each other through the vagus nerve to control our digestive functions. You can find CB1 receptors on the vagus nerve that influence these communications with cannabinoids. They process and release cannabinoids to manage the way our brain and gut send messages to each other.
CBD can relieve certain forms of constipation by addressing the causes. Its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory abilities have an indirect role to play in helping constipation patients.
If you experience constipation as a side effect of painkillers, you could lower your dose or replace it using CBD. CBD controls the pain response by increasing your anandamide levels. Anandamide, one of the endocannabinoids created by our bodies, moderates pain in damaged tissue. A fatty acid called FAAH breaks anandamide down, but CBD blocks FAAH. Taking CBD prevents the breakdown of anandamide, allowing it to manage pain sensations.
Anandamide also reduces inflammation in irritated tissue. This benefit helps patients with spastic constipation have reduced symptoms. When you have spastic constipation as a symptom of IBS, CBD also works with the body to relieve the condition’s other symptoms.
We recommend getting a doctor’s help before using CBD if you don’t know the cause of your constipation. If you have atonic or obstructive constipation, CBD may exacerbate your symptoms. However, it could also help you if you experience phases of constipation and diarrhea. You can use CBD to decrease your bowel motility and symptoms related to diarrhea when you have an episode.
CBD medicine comes in many forms. The availability in your area depends on local and state laws. Even if you don’t plan to use medication with THC, a medical marijuana program gives you access to medicine-grade CBD items. When you can’t get access to a dispensary, you can also get relief from over-the-counter CBD products. We recommend checking the product label to ensure it has enough CBD to provide benefits.
The right type of CBD product for your constipation will match the underlying causes. If you get constipation from painkillers, you want a medicine that reaches the affected area. Topical treatments will help muscle pain, while patches, edibles and pills circulate to pain sources inside your body. Medication you ingest travels to your intestine to relieve inflammation caused by IBS and other conditions.
You may also want to look into medicine that contains small amounts of THC to boost CBD’s effects. It works together with CBD to provide stronger pain and inflammation relief. Since CBD reduces the impact of THC on the brain, you can feel less of a “high” from the THC.
A doctor trained in cannabis medicine can help you find a solution that manages your symptoms. CBD has varying effects depending on the case of constipation. So, getting medical advice first will ensure you have an effective treatment.
To discover more about using cannabis medicine, find more information about underlying and related conditions in our ailment resources.
Learn more about Constipation and what makes medical marijuana an effective treatment for Constipation’s symptoms.