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Endocannabinoids: How Do They Impact Digestion?

Posted by Seth B on

It's no secret that people make use of cannabidiol (CBD) as a supplement for a large number of reasons. One of the most well-known reasons is that CBD is said, by some people, to reduce the nausea and vomiting that can accompany illnesses like cancer and the drugs that are used to treat them. Other people have reported to this author that CBD products have seemed to aid in their digestion, and one personal interview with a farmer revealed that he had successfully given his pigs CBD oil supplements for ulcers!

But you might well ask, why should this possible connection exist at all? The reason people might experience some type of connection between a CBD regimen and changes with their gastrointestinal system is not entirely understood. The starting point to answering this question, however, lies in knowing how the endocannabinoid system influences digestion and gastrointestinal activities.

There have been some studies that have outlined a connection between endocannabinoid processes and the various components of the brain and body involved in hunger and gastrointestinal health. Because CBD is capable of activating certain cannabinoid (CB) receptors, it may be capable of influencing these processes. So, which types of processes might CBD impact?

A research group, Emadi et al., researched chickens, and found that the CB1 receptors in the brain were found to influence eating and food behavior. When cannabinoids were administered to activate the CB1 receptors, food intake among the chickens increased. However, inhibiting the CB1 receptors resulted in less food intake, and faster satiation, or feelings of fullness, among the chickens. Emadi et al. then looked at past research on mammals, and found that the CB1 receptors in the brain seemed to influence sensations of hunger and fullness in the same way.

Capasso and Izzo conducted a review of human research, and found that in humans and other animals, CB1 receptors were not only related to hunger and satiation signals in the brain, but in the gut itself. When mammals were digesting food in their gut, the endocannabinoid system in the gut was sending feedback to the brain that basically informed the brain that the stomach was full, and no more food was needed. These signals, in turn, seemed to prompt feelings of fullness. Once the gut emptied, though, endocannabinoid cells in the gut began producing anandamide, an endocannabinoid that can trigger feelings of hunger. These signals activated CB1 receptors, which in turn sent signals to the brain that food digestion had progressed to the intestine. The intestine, similarly, used anandamide production as a signal to inform the brain that it was ready for more food via the endocannabinoid system.

There are probably many other connections between the endocannabinoid system and our habits of eating and digestion that are waiting to be discovered. Certainly, these studies provide food for thought on how CBD might activate signals for hunger, and even suppress nausea when a person needs to eat, but does not feel well. If you are experiencing occasional indigestion or nausea, perhaps CBD could be the supplement that is right for you. The wide variety of CBD edibles, including sugar-free chocolate bars, are an obvious start, but taking in other CBD products through another route, such as vape oils, might be a better option if you have an upset stomach.

Do you have a question or comment about CBD? Let us know, and we will respond right away. In the meantime, sign up for our newsletters and visit our website regularly for the latest updates on research, legislation, and other news impacting you and cannabidiol.

Written by Seth B

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