Can CBD Oil Cause Diarrhea?
CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in hemp and marijuana. It’s extremely versatile when it comes to health benefits and can be used to treat a wide range of conditions as well as to support general well-being.
CBD can ease some of the symptoms of irritable bowel disease (IBD), such as diarrhea. However, diarrhea is also one of the side effects of taking too much CBD, so is it just a biphasic nature, or is the link more complicated?
Today, we’ll explain how CBD interacts with the digestive system, how it may help prevent and ease diarrhea, and how to use it to avoid incidental bouts of diarrhea as an adverse reaction.
Can CBD Help With Diarrhea?
CBD can potentially help with diarrhea as a result of its modulation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Numerous studies point to CBD as an effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It can reduce diarrhea and other symptoms associated with this condition.
In a 2018 study, the authors concluded that patients with ulcerative colitis (a type of IBD) who were taking CBD experienced a reduction of symptoms, including relief from diarrhea.
When you take CBD and other cannabinoids, they interact with cannabinoid receptors in the gastrointestinal tract. This interaction results in muscle relaxation, inflammation reduction, and relief from spasticity.
The above properties can help prevent diarrhea in some people.
Does CBD Cause Diarrhea?
Although relatively rare, diarrhea is mentioned in studies as one of the few side effects of CBD. But, how can CBD cause diarrhea if people use it to relieve diarrhea in IBD patients?
Perhaps an inappropriate dose is to blame. The studies investigating the safety and efficacy of CBD mention that diarrhea might occur when a person takes more than 300 mg at a time.
Most people don’t use more than 50 mg of CBD in their routine.
What Causes Diarrhea: CBD or THC?
CBD is more commonly linked to diarrhea than THC.
There’s actually little evidence to suggest that THC causes diarrhea. It has some side effects, such as dry mouth, temporary problems with memory, dry eyes, or increased appetite, but diarrhea isn’t a concern.
On the other hand, we’ve had the aforementioned studies saying that diarrhea can be a side effect of CBD.
Here’s what may cause you to experience diarrhea after taking CBD.
The amount of CBD is one of the major causes of diarrhea as a side effect. Although it’s impossible to lethally overdose on CBD, a large amount of CBD oil could result in a stomach upset and diarrhea. This can happen especially if you’ve never taken CBD before. If you’re new to CBD, always start with a low dose and gradually work your way up to the sweet spot.
Diarrhea after taking too much CBD is also associated with consuming excessive amounts of the carrier oil, which may further loosen the stool.
The route of administration may affect whether you experience diarrhea after taking CBD or not.
As mentioned, the MCT oil in CBD oils can trigger diarrhea if you take too much. Another risk factor is the gelatin in CBD gummies or the binding ingredients in capsules.
Vapes are less likely to cause diarrhea, let alone topical products, which don’t enter the bloodstream at all.
If one CBD product isn’t working for you, try another format because it may not be the CBD that’s causing the issue.
Due to the lack of regulations on the market, there are a lot of poor-quality CBD products churned out on the market. Some of these products may use dangerous additives or be sourced from mass-produced hemp, which is usually full of contaminants from the soil and growth boosters.
Impurities, heavy metals, mold, and cheap hemp extracts could cause adverse reactions in your bodies — and trigger diarrhea as a response.
The best way to avoid cheaply-made CBD is to buy from trustworthy companies that display certificates of analysis for all their products.
The Response of Your Endocannabinoid System
When you consume CBD, it interacts with your endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is comprised of cannabinoids, enzymes, and two types of receptors (CB1 and CB2). These receptors control several important functions in your body.
CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain and the central nervous system. They also occur in the digestive tract and control gut motility. The main role of CB1 receptors in the gastrointestinal system is to support and maintain homeostasis.
CB2 receptors are mostly found in peripheral organs, the immune system, and the skin. They mostly regulate the communication between the immune cells.
Some people claim that when CBD acts on too many CB1 and CB2 receptors, it can trigger a diarrhea response, although this is just a hypothesis that hasn’t been tested in clinical conditions.
Do Some CBD Oils Cause Diarrhea More than Others?
Unless you’re allergic to some compounds in broad-spectrum CBD and full-spectrum CBD, the type of CBD oil shouldn’t change your chances of experiencing diarrhea.
Isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum are well-tolerated and shouldn’t trigger diarrhea unless you take upwards of 300 mg.
If you experience diarrhea after taking CBD but aren’t sensitive to any phytonutrients in your CBD extract, the side effects could result from poor-quality ingredients.
Here we should also elaborate on the problem of carrier oils.
The two most common oils used as carriers for CBD are MCT oil and hemp seed oil. These oils are mixed with CBD extract to improve the product’s absorption in the gut, bulk the oil content, and thin down the potency of CBD.
Carrier oils are essential components of CBD oil and they also offer many health benefits on their own.
However, the fats in these oils can increase the likelihood of diarrhea in some cases. This is especially true if the user is taking low-strength CBD oil in high doses.
When you take a large amount of low-strength CBD oil, you also consume an excessive amount of the carrier oil. Some people have more sensitive guts than others, hence a higher risk of diarrhea in their case.
If you get diarrhea due to the carrier oil in your CBD product, we suggest that you try another form of CBD.
Edibles, capsules, tinctures, vapes, and topicals are other options if you’re having diarrhea from CBD oil. Just make sure that your new product doesn’t contain the same carrier oil that may be causing an upset stomach.
What Dose of CBD Can Cause Diarrhea?
As mentioned, diarrhea is most commonly reported at doses upwards of 300 milligrams.
That being said, everyone reacts to CBD differently and there are several individual factors that can make diarrhea more likely to occur in CBD users.
Although there’s no specific dose that would trigger diarrhea, the higher the dose, the more you’re at risk of experiencing this side effect.
If this is your first time with CBD oil and you’re worried about diarrhea due to stomach sensitivities, start with the lowest dose possible — such as 3 mg of CBD. Once you know your gut is responding well, you can up the amount and observe your reaction.
How to Choose CBD Oil
The choice of CBD oil could make a difference between normal digestive function and diarrhea. There are a few options to choose from, and although CBD oil is the most flexible format, it may not be the best type for you.
If you’re assuming you may get diarrhea as a side effect of CBD oil, you should just give it a try and see how your body reacts. As we said, diarrhea is a rare effect in doses below 300 milligrams, so chances are, you won’t suffer from loose stools or restroom breaks.
Nevertheless, you should still pay attention to the quality of your CBD oil — namely the source of hemp and third-party lab reports.
Buying CBD from a reputable supplier is extremely important; doing so will help you prevent experiencing constipation and diarrhea as a side effect of poor-quality ingredients or contaminated extracts.
How to Prevent Diarrhea with CBD
Preventing CBD-triggered diarrhea is totally possible.
There are a few steps you can take to make sure you’re not facing the risk of diarrhea. We’ve highlighted most of these tips in the article’s previous sections, but let’s have a brief summary so that you can make a well-informed decision.
Find a Trustworthy Vendor
Buying from a reputable CBD product supplier makes it more likely that you’ll end up with high-quality CBD, therefore reducing the chances of having diarrhea from CBD oil.
Premium CBD products are made with high-quality ingredients and don’t contain any impurities.
Ordering from a trustworthy source that openly shows third-party lab reports for the whole product selection reduces the risks of any inconsistencies in your experience.
Choose the Right Form of CBD
Different people may respond differently to cannabinoids.
Some people need a larger amount than others, and some users can experience negative reactions to specific compounds.
If you have diarrhea from broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD, you may want to opt for CBD isolate. It may not be the CBD that triggers diarrhea; it could be one of the other compounds in the whole-plant extract. If that’s the case, isolate may solve the problem.
Make sure that your CBD oil doesn’t contain any ingredients that could be upsetting your stomach. Diarrhea symptoms may occur when you take certain ingredients such as gelatin in edibles or carrier oil in CBD oil.
Purchase the Right Potency
Extremely high doses are more likely to cause diarrhea in CBD users.
The highest risk of experiencing diarrhea is after consuming more than 300 mg of CBD at a time. However, this number can change in either direction depending on how your body responds to CBD.
If you’re new to choosing the strength of your CBD products, we suggest that you start with a low-strength CBD oil and observe how different doses make you feel throughout the day. A low-strength CBD oil is a good place to start for beginners.
Gradually Increase Your Dose
Taking the “low and slow” approach will reduce the risk of diarrhea.
If you’ve never taken CBD before, start with a low amount and gradually increase it every 2–3 days to help your body adjust to the new cannabinoid.
Since very high doses are more likely to trigger diarrhea, it’s important to increase the potency of your CBD and your dose slowly. Sometimes, a large dose is required for a particular condition, but you shouldn’t draw the big guns out from the first use.
It’s better to work up to your required dose than take the recommended amount in one session.
For example, if your situation calls for 500 mg per day, you should start with less than 50 mg and increase the dose by 10 mg every 2-3 days to reach the target dose.
Key Takeaways on the Link Between CBD and Diarrhea
CBD modulates the functioning of our gastrointestinal (GI) tract by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). One of the health benefits of CBD for the digestive system is relief from diarrhea. CBD can support healthy gut motility, reduce inflammation, and relieve physical discomfort in the gut — so that you can easily pass the stool.
However, for some people, high doses of CBD can trigger diarrhea as a side effect.
You’re most likely to experience diarrhea upon doses higher than 300 mg, but the quality of your CBD oil, additional ingredients in the formula, and the product type can affect the chances of having diarrhea.
Buying CBD oil from a reputable brand that makes premium products, using small doses at first, and working your way up to the sweet spot gradually will help you minimize the chances of experiencing negative reactions such as diarrhea.
Make sure to do your homework before ordering a CBD product for your condition. Any trustworthy company will openly display lab reports that provide details about the cannabinoid content, terpene profile, and potential contaminants in your CBD oil. If you want to get a bigger picture of your vendor, check their social media and read user reviews on third-party websites.
Have you ever experienced diarrhea after taking CBD oil? What dose triggered this effect? Share your stories in the comments below!
- 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.
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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