EducationDoes CBD cause bloating?

Does CBD cause bloating?

6 min read

Sam North

Does CBD cause bloating?

In the past decade, we have all witnessed the meteoric rise of CBD (cannabidiol). From a little-known and poorly understood cannabinoid to one of the most popular therapeutic supplements worldwide, CBD has quickly become a household name. With its potential to help with a range of conditions including anxiety, inflammation, and gastrointestinal issues, it's little wonder so many people are turning to CBD for relief. 


With its potential to help with a range of conditions including anxiety, inflammation, and gastrointestinal issues, it's little wonder so many people are turning to CBD for relief.

And while CBD is often prescribed to help ease the pain and discomfort associated with gastrointestinal issues, there are some concerns about its potential to cause bloating. One of the more commonly reported side effects of CBD is gut complaints, which is strange, as there is research to support that it can help to reduce inflammation in the gut.

So, what is the truth behind CBD and bloating? Is it a risk factor, or does it offer relief?

Let’s break down the science to find out.

What causes bloating?

Bloating is a common symptom of many digestive disorders and can range from mildly uncomfortable to wildly painful. It is characterised by a feeling of fullness and tension in the abdomen, sometimes accompanied by visible swelling.

The causes of bloating are varied. From food intolerances and allergies to overconsumption of some foods, hormonal changes, and underlying medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – the potential triggers for bloating are multi-layered and sometimes awfully hard to nail down to one single issue.

CBD and bloating

Before we dive straight into the topic at hand, we have to first briefly go over how CBD interacts with the human body.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS)

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) can be thought of as the body’s “master regulator”. It is responsible for maintaining homeostasis (or balance) in the body and consists of naturally occurring endocannabinoids, the CB1 and CB2 receptors, and enzymes. It helps control homeostasis in the body by regulating a range of processes – mood, sleep, pain perception, appetite, inflammation, and digestion among a long list of other functions.

Our endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced by the human body) interact with the receptors, producing a wide array of effects, and are then broken down by the enzymes.

How does CBD interact with the ECS?

Even though CBD is one of the most studied cannabinoids, the jury is still out on how it actually interacts with the ECS and other systems in the body.

What we do know is that unlike THC, which has a strong interaction with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD does not strongly bind to either. That's not to say that there is no evidence pointing to receptor interaction, just that it is weak and not the primary mechanism of action.

CBD appears to inhibit the role of the enzymes. It seems to reduce the rate of endocannabinoid breakdown, allowing for a greater presence of endocannabinoids in the body. This may explain its potential to reduce inflammation and ease digestive issues, as it allows for the endocannabinoids to exert a greater influence on the digestive system.

There is also evidence showing that it helps in serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter most often thought of as a mood regulator, but it also has an impact on digestive processes. Low levels of serotonin can lead to gastrointestinal issues like IBS, which in turn can cause bloating.

Does CBD cause bloating?

At this point in time, we cannot definitively say whether CBD causes bloating on its own.

While there is evidence to suggest that it helps in serotonin production and lowering gut inflammation, and may ease some digestive issues, there are also anecdotal reports of CBD treatment causing further bloating and discomfort.

The current research, and the anecdotal evidence, propose that the effects of CBD on the ECS are different for different people, and it is important to pay close attention to any changes in your body and bowel habits before, during, and after CBD treatment.

A 2020 study, titled “Cannabidiol and Other Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoids for Prevention and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders: Useful Nutraceuticals?” concluded that CBD had the potential to treat gastrointestinal disease, but that this research was also in the very early stages and more investigation was needed.

Potential side effects

All therapeutic options come with a range of possible side effects, CBD included. While sometimes touted as the new miracle cure, these claims should be taken with a grain of salt. 

CBD has a range of potential benefits and downsides, but the most common side effects related to CBD administration are on the lower end of the scale when compared to many conventional pharmaceutical options. 

The most commonly reported side effects of CBD include

  • tiredness
  • dizziness
  • low blood pressure
  • dry mouth
  • diarrhoea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • changes in appetite.

These negatives are rarely reported, especially when taken at the doses prescribed for most medical issues.

It is important to point out that CBD can also have a negative impact on some pharmaceuticals. Due to its ability to interact with enzymes in the liver, there is potential for it to disrupt or change the therapeutic effects of medications. All of these considerations should be regarded on a case-by-case basis, and patients interested in taking CBD for its therapeutic effects really should consult with a healthcare professional before any treatment plan changes are made.

How to minimise bloating with CBD

There are a few key things that you can do to ensure the lowest chances of bloating with CBD intake.

Firstly, start off with a low dose and increase gradually as necessary. Everyone reacts differently to CBD, so it is critical to find your own sweet spot. Starting off with a low dose may also decrease the chances of bloating and other adverse reactions.

Choosing to source your CBD products from reputable sources that offer high-quality CBD products will also help you minimise the chances of bloating. Low-quality products may contain impurities that can cause digestive issues and other adverse reactions. The medicinal cannabis sector is subject to very stringent regulatory oversight, unlike many over-the-counter options.

The method of administration can also play a role in minimizing bloating. For example, CBD edibles are processed through the digestive system, which may increase the chances of bloating. On the other hand, vaping CBD or taking CBD oil sublingually bypasses the digestive system, which could reduce the chances of bloating.

CBD and bloating – The wrap up

As we can see, the potential of CBD to treat gastrointestinal disorders is still in its very early stages, but the current evidence indicates that it may indeed be a valuable therapeutic tool. But, there are people who do struggle with excess bloating when administering CBD, so it is important to be cautious when considering introducing it into your health and wellness routine.

Always speak to a doctor that is registered to prescribe medicinal cannabis before adding CBD to your regime. This can be done simply; all you have to do is reach out and one of our experienced medicinal cannabis doctors will be ready to help.

Releaf understands that medical cannabis can be life-changing for many people. That's why we offer tailored monthly packages based on your cannabis prescription, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection. 

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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Sam North, a seasoned writer with over five years' experience and expertise in medicinal cannabis, brings clarity to complex concepts, focusing on education and informed use.

Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

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