CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid present in hemp and cannabis. It has many health benefits and can be used to treat a number of conditions and support overall wellness.
It may help ease some of the symptoms of irritable bowel disease (IBD) including diarrhea. However, diarrhea is a commonly reported side effect of CBD when taken in high doses, so can CBD really help prevent diarrhea?
In this article, we’ll be looking at how CBD may help diarrhea, how it may cause it, and how you can reduce the chances of experiencing diarrhea as a side effect of consuming CBD.
Can CBD Help with Diarrhea?
CBD can help with diarrhea in some people.
CBD is considered an effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The cannabinoid may alleviate diarrhea and other symptoms associated with the disease .
A 2018 study concluded that when patients suffering from ulcerative colitis (a type of IBD) were administered CBD, a reduction of symptoms including diarrhea was noticed .
When CBD and other cannabinoids are consumed they bind with cannabinoid receptors in the large and small intestines. This can cause muscle relaxation, inflammation reduction, and relief from spasms.
Some of these benefits, especially spasm relief, can help prevent diarrhea in some people and relieve constipation.
Does CBD Cause Diarrhea?
So, how can CBD cause diarrhea if it’s effective at reducing diarrhea in IBD patients?
Although relatively rare compared to some of the other minor side effects of CBD, the cannabinoid can cause diarrhea when consumed in large doses.
Some people are also more sensitive to CBD and the other cannabinoids and terpenes present in broad-spectrum and full-spectrum extracts. These people are more at risk of diarrhea when using CBD.
When CBD is clinically trialed, one of the most common adverse side effects is diarrhea . The studies that report diarrhea as a side effect of CBD, it’s due to doses over 300 mg.
1. What Causes Diarrhea — THC or CBD?
CBD is more commonly associated with diarrhea compared to THC.
There is little evidence to suggest THC has anything to do with diarrhea. THC does have some side effects such as dry mouth, slowed reactions, and temporary memory loss, but diarrhea isn’t one of them.
On the other hand, it’s well known that diarrhea can be a side effect of CBD. There are a number of reasons CBD may cause diarrhea, but usually, they are avoidable.
The dosage of CBD is one of the main reasons diarrhea can be experienced as a side effect.
Although it’s impossible to overdose on CBD, a large dose could result in a stomach upset, loose stool, and/or diarrhea.
This is especially true if you are new to CBD. If you have never consumed CBD before, you should always start with a low dose. Taking a high dose the first time increases your chances of experiencing diarrhea.
Everyone reacts differently to CBD. A dose for one person won’t be effective for another. With this in mind, some people may experience diarrhea from a lower dose compared to others. Finding the ideal dose for you will take some experimentation, but it’s best to start low and build up gradually until you reach the desired effects.
CBD Consumption Method
The method of CBD consumption may affect whether you experience diarrhea or not.
You may react badly to other ingredients present in the CBD product. For example, this could be the gelatin in CBD gummies, the carrier oil in CBD oil, or the binders in sofgels or capsules.
If one CBD product isn’t working for you, it’s wise to try another method of consumption because it may not necessarily be the CBD that’s causing the problem.
There are a lot of poor-quality CBD products on the market. Some of these products may use poor-quality extracts and ingredients.
Unfortunately, CBD is still considered a supplement and is not FDA-approved. This means that irresponsible companies can put just about anything in their CBD formulations.
Impurities, mold, heavy metals, and cheap ingredients could cause the body to reject the substance with a diarrhea response.
The best way to avoid acquiring a low-quality cheaply-made CBD product is to buy from a reputable company that freely displays third-party laboratory reports for all their products.
The Endocannabinoid System’s Response
When CBD is consumed it interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is made up of cannabinoids, enzymes, and CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are in charge of several bodily functions.
CB1 receptors are found in the digestive tract and are responsible for gut motility. They play a role in the body’s homeostatic functions.
Because of this, when CBD is consumed and interacts with the CB1 receptors found in the gut it may trigger a diarrhea response.
This could be the ECS’s way of removing potentially harmful toxins from the body. However, this belief is anecdotal and not backed by science yet.
2. What Dose of CBD Puts You Most at Risk of Diarrhea?
Diarrhea is most commonly reported at doses higher than 300 milligrams.
However, as we mentioned earlier everyone reacts to CBD differently and there are several factors that can cause diarrhea in CBD users.
There’s no specific dose that will cause diarrhea but as a general rule, the higher the dose the more at risk of the side effect you become.
If you’ve never taken CBD before and are worried about diarrhea because you have a particularly sensitive stomach or digestive system, it’s best to start with an extremely low dose.
The first dose of no more than 3 milligrams will suffice. Once you are certain your gut is responding well, you can increase the dose as needed.
Do Some CBD Oils Cause Diarrhea More than Others?
Unless you’re sensitive to a specific cannabinoid present in broad- or full-spectrum CBD, the type of CBD oil you use won’t increase or decrease the chance of experiencing diarrhea.
Isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum CBD is safe to use and shouldn’t cause diarrhea in most people unless higher doses are used.
If you’re experiencing diarrhea from CBD, are not sensitive to the cannabinoids present in CBD extract, and aren’t using a particularly high dose of CBD, the side effect could be down to another factor.
The source of diarrhea may be down to other ingredients in the CBD product you’re using or the quality of the extract in the product.
Two oils that are commonly used as carriers for CBD are coconut and MCT oil. These oils are mixed with CBD extract to reduce the concentration of the product, improve its absorption in the gut, and bulk out the oil content.
Carrier oils are a necessary component of CBD oil and they also provide many health benefits.
However, the fats in these oils could be the culprit of diarrhea in some cases. This is especially true if the patient is using low-potency CBD oil at high doses.
When a large amount of a low-potency CBD oil is consumed, an excess of the carrier oil is consumed too. For some people, the body can reject the excess fat with a diarrhea response.
If you’re experiencing diarrhea and believe it could be down to the carrier oil in the CBD oil you’re using, it’s wise to try another form of CBD.
Edibles, capsules, vapes, tinctures, and topicals are other options for you if you’re experiencing diarrhea from oil. If you do decide to go with an alternative, just make sure it doesn’t contain the same carrier oil that may be upsetting your gut.
How to Choose the Right CBD Oil?
Choosing the right CBD product could be the difference between normal digestive function and diarrhea.
There are several options to choose from and although CBD oil gives you the most flexibility, it may not be the best option for you.
If you’ve never tried CBD before and are only assuming you may get diarrhea as a side effect, you should try oil first and see how your body reacts.
As we mentioned, diarrhea is a rare side effect when doses are below 300 milligrams, so chances are, you won’t experience any loose stools or frequent restroom breaks.
That being said, it’s still important that you start with high-quality oil that’s third-party lab tested from a reputable company.
Purchasing your CBD from a reputable supplier — whether as edible gummies, capsules, oils, or vape liquid — is extremely important. Doing this ensures that you don’t experience any side effects of poor-quality ingredients or impure extracts.
How to Prevent Diarrhea Caused by CBD?
Preventing diarrhea caused by CBD is certainly not impossible.
There are a number of steps you can take to ensure you’re at minimal risk of this side effect. We’ve outlined most of these steps in the article, but in this section, we’ve rounded them up into 4 steps.
1. Find a Reputable CBD Manufacturer
Finding a reputable supplier that produces high-quality CBD is essential in reducing the possibility of experiencing diarrhea from CBD.
Premium CBD oil is made using high-quality ingredients and shouldn’t contain any impurities.
Purchasing your CBD from a reputable supplier that openly displays third-party lab reports for their entire product range reduces the possibility of diarrhea from any inconsistencies in the product.
2. Choose the Right CBD Product
Cannabinoids can affect people differently.
Some people require a higher dose than others, and some people can experience negative reactions to certain cannabinoids.
If you’re experiencing diarrhea from broad- or full-spectrum CBD, CBD isolate may be a better option. It may not be the CBD that’s causing the problem, it could be one of the other compounds in the extract, so isolate may solve the issue.
The specific product you select may be causing the problem too. Diarrhea symptoms may occur due to certain ingredients in edibles and capsules or the carrier oil in CBD oil.
Experimenting with different CBD products and finding what type suits you best will help you find the best product for your body.
3. Purchase the Right Potency of CBD
Diarrhea is more commonly seen in patients that consume high doses of CBD.
You’re most at risk of diarrhea when you consume more than 300 milligrams of CBD. However, this number can be lower or higher depending on how your body handles the cannabinoid.
If you’re new to CBD, it’s wise to start with a low potency product and monitor your doses throughout the day. A low-potency CBD oil of 250 mg to 500 mg is a great place to start.
4. Increase Doses Slowly
Increasing your dose slowly will reduce your chances of diarrhea.
If you’ve never used CBD before, starting with a low dose and increasing the dosage in small increments every 2 to 3 days will help your ECS adjust to the new cannabinoid levels in your system.
It’s especially important to increase the dosage and potency of your CBD slowly if you require a large dose.
As mentioned, you’re more at risk of experiencing diarrhea as a side effect when taking a large amount of CBD. Sometimes, a large dose is required to effectively treat certain conditions.
In these cases, it’s important to work up to your required dose rather than consume the recommended dose all at once.
For example, if your target dose is 500 mg per day, you should start with a dose under 50 mg and increase the dose by 10 – 20 mg every 1 to 2 days until the target dose is reached.
Doing this provides your body with enough time to properly adjust to the dose. This will decrease the chances of your body rejecting such a large amount of CBD.
Final Thoughts: Does CBD Help or Cause Diarrhea?
In some people, CBD can help ease diarrhea. IBD and IBS patients have seen positive results in reducing symptoms and ease diarrhea.
However, for some people, diarrhea is a negative side effect of CBD.
You’re most at risk of experiencing diarrhea when high doses are consumed, but ingredients, quality, and product type can affect the chances of experiencing diarrhea.
Purchasing CBD from a reputable supplier that produces premium products, starting with a small dose, and working up the dose slowly is the best way to minimize the chances of experiencing side effects such as diarrhea.
Make sure you do your research before selecting a CBD product for your condition. Any premium CBD brand will openly display third-party lab reports. These lab reports provide information on cannabinoid content, terpene profile, and any impurities that may be present.
References Used In This Article
- Ahmed, W., & Katz, S. (2016). Therapeutic use of cannabis in inflammatory bowel disease. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 12(11), 668.
- Irving, P. M., Iqbal, T., Nwokolo, C., Subramanian, S., Bloom, S., Prasad, N., … & Wright, S. (2018). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, pilot study of cannabidiol-rich botanical extract in the symptomatic treatment of ulcerative colitis. Inflammatory bowel diseases, 24(4), 714-724.
- Iffland, K., & Grotenhermen, F. (2017). An update on safety and side effects of cannabidiol: a review of clinical data and relevant animal studies. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 2(1), 139-154.