A Guide to IBS & How CBD Can Help With Symptoms
IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is used to describe prolonged symptoms of gut issues
While this is a common disorder it affects more women than men. Worldwide, experts estimate that up to 15% of the population has symptoms of IBS. Most people with IBS are under age 50, but even older adults can experience IBS.
The symptoms of IBS typically include:
- abdominal pain
- bloating and gas
- stress and anxiety
How Do You Develop Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
While the precise cause of IBS isn’t known they are some factors that appear to play a role such as:
Early life stress – People who have experienced traumatic or stressful events in childhood have a higher risk of IBS.
Severe infection – Some people develop IBS after a severe gut infection from bacteria or a virus. This is due to the bacteria causing nerve damage and impacting natural bowl movement.
Muscle contractions in the intestine – Contractions that move your food through the digestive tract can last longer than normal. This can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhoea. Weak contractions can slow food passage and lead to constipation.
Nervous system – Poorly coordinated nerve signals between your gut and your brain can change the digestive process. According to some studies, IBS is now considered a neurologic bowel disorder.
Changes in your gut microbiome – your gut has a balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria. These bacteria living in our guts work together harmoniously to keep us regular and feeling good. However, evidence shows people with IBS have a different microbiome than healthy people, meaning they have more harmful bacteria and few gut-friendly bacteria.
What Causes IBS Flare-Ups?
You may have noticed that certain things trigger symptoms if you have IBS.
Common triggers include some foods and medication. Emotional stress can also be a trigger. Some researchers suggest that IBS is the gut’s response to life’s stressors.
Stress and Anxiety – A significant amount of evidence points to stress-triggering symptoms of IBS in many people. Additionally, stress and anxiety disorders often appear alongside symptoms, hinting at a stronger link between stress and IBS. Experts recommend that people with IBS find ways to reduce stress levels, such as taking short rests, adopting meditation or other mindfulness techniques, or taking a hot bath.
Consuming fat triggers the colon and the rest of the digestive system to begin working. Unfortunately, after too many fatty foods, people with IBS often experience cramping, bloating, and periods of constipation and diarrhoea. As the food works its way through the gut, the colon contracts, trapping gas and faecal matter with embarrassing or painful results. People with IBS should avoid fatty meat and fried, greasy foods as much as possible.
Many people, not just those with IBS, experience discomfort after eating dairy. Lactose intolerance and IBS symptoms are almost identical, so some individuals with IBS may not even realise that they are lactose intolerant, and vice versa. Milk is high in fat, which can trigger diarrhoea and other IBS symptoms. Dairy fat can also cause loose bowels and irritation. Almond, coconut, and hemp milk can replace dairy milk in many recipes.
Ground beef, hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, roast beef, ham, bacon, and salami, are triggers for IBS symptoms like gas, bloating, nausea, and constipation. These animal products lack fibre and have low water content, which can trigger contractions and spasms in the colon. Processed meats also contain additives and nitrates that can aggravate an already sensitive gut. Poultry and fish are learner alternatives that people with irritable bowel syndrome generally tolerate better.
Wheat and Gluten
Gluten intolerance affects more than just people with Celiac disease, which is a serious allergy to the protein. Many people find gluten, a protein found in various ingredients, most commonly wheat, difficult to process. Though IBS and Celiac disease can be mistaken for one another, the symptoms caused by the former are unrelated to the autoimmune system. Though avoiding gluten requires reading a lot of food labels, there are many gluten-free options available today
This gut stimulant, once consumed, will quickly take command of the digestive system by moving things along quicker than desired, causing bloating, gas, distention, and discomfort. Soda-based cocktails can exacerbate these symptoms because of the added carbonation. Beer mixes alcohol with carbonation and gluten which is one of the worst options for IBS sufferers. People with and without IBS should consume alcohol only in moderation, and the former may be able to occasionally enjoy distilled alcohol such as gin, vodka, scotch, whiskey and rye, and wine are least likely to cause gastrointestinal issues.
Caffeine is a well-known gastrointestinal stimulant and is best avoided by people with IBS and those prone to symptoms like diarrhoea. Beverages such as coffee, soft drinks, and black or green tea have enough caffeine to irritate the digestive system quite quickly. Though caffeine has numerous health benefits, people with IBS should also seek alternatives.
Carbonated drinks are also good to avoid, as they often cause gas and bloating.
What is the Best Way to Treat IBS
There’s no single diet or medicine that works for everyone with IBS. But there are lots of things that can help if you have been diagnosed with it.
Probiotics are foods rich in beneficial bacteria, like Kefir or Kimchi. Many studies now show that probiotics help to relieve IBS symptoms as well! This is because they help restore the natural balance of bacteria within your gut microbiome. This leads to better digestion, gut motility – and fewer IBS symptoms!
Increase your Fibre
Your gut bugs eat fibre – and they love a good range of them too. However, low fibre diversity is a very common issue and can contribute to your IBS symptoms. You may be eating fruit and vegetables, but what about the carbs, beans, grains or gluten? Getting a variety of fibres is great for your good bacteria to thrive, and restore the balance within your gut!
Stress With multiple studies about Stress causing IBS it is essential to adopt a stress-free lifestyle to manage symptoms and avoid flare-ups. Did you know it works both ways? Being stressed out can trigger IBS symptoms, and IBS can also trigger stress!
CBG For IBS
Can CBG help IBS? As scientists were studying the chemicals found in cannabis plants, called cannabinoids, they discovered humans have receptors built specifically for cannabinoid-like chemicals. Receptors are areas on the cell structure that bind with chemicals and then activate a cell to take action. Researchers called the network of receptors The Endocannabinoid System (ECS). “Endo” means it is found in the body.
Scientists have identified two types of receptors in the human endocannabinoid system. These are CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are most often found in the central nervous system (brain) but can also be found in the gut and immune system. CB2 receptors are found in the immune system and the gastrointestinal system. A small number are also found in the brain.
The ESC helps maintain homeostasis (stability) within the body. It modulates several physiological processes, such as sleep, inflammation, pain, and stress.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis. CBG is highly anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant. CBG is known as the “The Mother Cannabinoid” because it is the genesis of many major cannabinoids derived from cannabis. Essentially without CBG, CBD oil wouldn’t exist.
So, can CBG help those with irritable bowel syndrome?
Well, research is pointing to yes. CBG interacts with the ECS to create homeostasis in the digestive system. These preliminary research findings suggest that this compound has shown potential in managing symptoms of various digestive issues. Some of these issues include Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD).