CBD & The Gut Microbiome:
The Connection Between CBD & Our Digestive Microbiota.
Effects, Benefits, Research, Science & More:
Introduction into the Microbiome & Gut brain connection
Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Vance Green, PharmD. | Updated on August 29, 2021
New research suggests CBD is closely linked to the health of our gut microbiome and overall digestive health.
A lot of us have heard recently about the potential benefits of CBD, but researchers are honing in on a new and unexpected direction for research into this unique natural compound: the relationship between cannabinoids, whole-plant extracts and our digestive tract. Specifically, preliminary research suggests CBD could contribute positively to the health of our gut microbiome, the tiny organisms that help us digest our food.
Anyone that’s suffered from a stomach ache can appreciate the importance of good digestion, but researchers suspect it could go far deeper. Scientists today are discovering that the health of our gut microbiomes could be intimately linked to everything from mental health to our immune systems.
Clearly, humanity is still learning about all ways the health of our digestive tract affects the health of other parts of our bodies. Understanding where CBD fits in is even more experimental.
Even so, we wanted to share what researchers know today about the connections between CBD and gut microflora health.
The Gut Brain connection:
Our gut is now referred to as our second brain.
Scientists call this little brain the enteric nervous system (ENS). And it’s not so little.
The ENS is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum.
How does that connect to the microbiome? A thin lining of our digestive tract called the “epithelial barrier” seems to be crucial in keeping us healthy, and the gut microbiome is responsible for maintaining the epithelial barrier. As reported by Project CBD, an important 2012 study suggested that key receptors in the ECS encourage the bacteria to maintain a healthy epithelial barrier.
Keith Sharkey, a University of Calgary professor and expert in the gut microbiome, told Project CBD in September 2020 that the endocannabinoid system seems to be a “control element.” encouraging the microbiome to act to prevent or repair damage to our digestive tract.
“We have developed as mammals this very intricate control system, which prevents damage or quickly repairs damage, to prevent further erosion of our bodies,” Sharkey said. “The bacteria we have in our gut contributes to that system.”
The connection between cannabinoids and gut microbiome health has us wondering how other plants containing cannabinoids can work in synergy with both cannabis and our microbiome.
Although research into the links between the endocannabinoid system and the epithelial barrier is just beginning, he stressed that we need to remember we live in a “mutualistic symbiotic relationship” with our gut microbiome.
Other ways CBD might help digestive health.
There are other ways CBD might contribute to a healthy digestion, according to research and consumer reports.
Research suggests that CBD, along with other compounds found in the hemp and cannabis plants such as CBG, can have a potent anti-inflammatory effect throughout our bodies. A number of troubling health conditions can be caused by inflammation of the digestive tract and other internal organs. A 2011 study suggested CBD might even reduce inflammation and intestinal damage linked to Crohn’s disease.
Research suggests cannabinoids like CBD & CBG can reduce inflammation and reduce symptoms of anxiety
and depression, all of which could also improve the health of our digestive tracts.
While researchers are just now discovering how the health of our guts can affect the health of our minds, we’ve long known about the links between mental health and good digestion. Digestive upset is frequently a symptom of anxiety and depression. And research suggests CBD could reduce symptoms of both depression and anxiety.
In a 2018 personal essay published by Ministry of Hemp, Annalise Mabe described how CBD not only reduced the abdominal pain caused by Crohn’s but also helped ease “arguably the worst parts” of her disease: “the psychological burden/worry … and overall anxiety.”
With mental health linked to our digestive health, and the health of our gut microbiome in turn linked to our mental health, it seems to create a feedback loop where one can balance or imbalance the other. And cannabinoids like CBD seem like they might play a part in all of it.
The intriguing science of gut health
It’s intuitive knowledge that eating right and supporting your digestive tract is good for your health.
Even so, researchers are giving us a much deeper appreciation of how much it matters to keep the millions of bacteria in our guts healthy and happy too. Even the health of the soil where our food (or our hemp!) is grown could affect the health of the gut microbiome.
Your microbiome actually begins to form as we pass from your mother’s birth canal into the world. It really is extraordinary to think how closely our lives are linked to these organisms, literally from the moment we’re born.
As we learn more about our gut microbiome, we’re learning about new ways to support these tiny friends, from understanding the right nutrition for our personal chemistry to learning how to support the microbiome with supplements like CBD and probiotics. Research keeps opening new doors into better health, and they all seem to lead back to our digestive tract!