These days, more and more people are using CBD to relieve a range of different conditions. Its supporters claim it can treat everything from chronic pain to Parkinson’s, all while causing very little in the way of side effects.
But while CBD is generally considered safe, there is one group of people who must be a little more careful. That is people with allergies to wheat or gluten, and patients with celiac disease. If you are unlucky enough to suffer from one of these conditions, you may be wondering how safe it is to take CBD.
In this article, we ask ‘can I take CBD if I have a gluten allergy?’ We also look at some of the possible benefits of this substance for people with celiac disease and similar conditions.
Wheat Allergy, Gluten Sensitivity, and Celiac Disease: What’s the Difference?
For the average person, the words gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy, and celiac disease may appear to be interchangeable. However, they are three distinct conditions which all affect the body in slightly different ways.
Whereas people who suffer from wheat allergies are allergic to the protein found in wheat, people with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten specifically. Gluten is a group of proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. Therefore, people affected by these conditions are far more limited in what they can eat than people with a wheat allergy alone.
The symptoms of wheat allergy and gluten sensitivity are also different. Wheat allergy can cause hives, itching, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis. Gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, is more likely to cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain
Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity have similar symptoms, but the former is far more serious. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning that it causes the immune system to become confused and attack healthy tissue. In the case of celiac disease, it targets the lining of the small intestine. This leads to inflammation and can cause permanent damage over time.
The inflammation caused by celiac disease can also stop the body from absorbing nutrients as effectively as it should. This can lead to vitamin deficiencies and anemia, as well as fatigue, weight loss, and a range of other problems.
The autoimmune aspect is what sets celiac disease apart from gluten sensitivity. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not classed as an autoimmune disease, but the immune system may be involved. Scientists are still trying to ascertain why some people can eat gluten without any issues, while for others, it causes serious problems.
Unfortunately, until we understand more about the condition, the only treatment for people with gluten sensitivity is to avoid foods and other products which contain this protein. Doing this is easier than it used to be, but can still present a challenge.
Can I Use CBD if I Have a Gluten Allergy?
CBD is extracted either from hemp or marijuana plants. Both plants are varieties of Cannabis sativa, with the main difference being THC production. While marijuana produces THC, the compound in cannabis that provides its psychoactive high, industrial hemp only contains trace amounts of this chemical.
If you have a gluten allergy, the good news is that neither hemp nor marijuana contains gluten. Therefore, CBD should be safe to take, or at least in theory. One possible problem that could arise is if you use CBD that has been extracted from industrial hemp. This is because hemp is generally grown outdoors in fields, alongside other crops. It could, therefore, be contaminated by wheat, barley, or rye plants that may be growing nearby.
While any gluten that might get into your CBD will be minimal, it is impossible to guarantee that a CBD product manufactured in this way will be 100% gluten-free. There is less risk of contamination if you use CBD oil that is made from marijuana as it is usually grown indoors. However, this type of oil is only available in states where weed is legal, and so is not a solution for everyone.
If you suffer from a gluten allergy or celiac disease, your best bet is to look for a CBD brand that is certified gluten-free. You should also be extra careful when choosing products such as edibles which may contain wheat flour or gluten as an added ingredient.
CBD for Celiac Disease and Gluten Allergy
As well as being naturally gluten-free, CBD may actually benefit people with celiac disease and gluten allergies. It does this by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS can be divided into two main parts. The first part is cannabinoid receptors known as CB1 and CB2 receptors. The second is chemicals called endocannabinoids that bind with them.
When endocannabinoids bind with cannabinoid receptors, they trigger a series of reactions that help the body maintain a state of homeostasis (internal balance). Cannabinoid receptors can be found on many different types of cell: In the nervous system, immune system, and gastrointestinal system, among others. They are responsible for regulating mood, appetite, immunity, inflammation, and pain.
It appears that the ECS plays a role in the management of conditions such as celiac disease too. One study found that people with this condition have more CB1 and CB2 receptors than usual when their illness becomes active. This finding suggests that the body is creating more receptors to help counteract the harmful inflammation that characterizes the condition.
And this is where CBD comes in. CBD is thought to work by helping cannabinoid receptors bind with endocannabinoids more effectively. It is also believed to reduce the rate at which endocannabinoids are broken down, acting to enhance their anti-inflammatory properties.
In addition to reducing inflammation, CBD may also help people with gluten allergies or celiac disease in the following ways:
- Relieving abdominal pain
- Relieving nausea
- Improving appetite
- Supporting weight gain
CBD may even help treat the root cause of celiac disease: An overactive immune system. Unfortunately, to date, no studies exist specifically on CBD for celiac disease. However, research has shown that cannabinoids can help to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation in other autoimmune diseases. Therefore, it could be well worth a try.
How to Use CBD for Celiac Disease and Gluten Allergy
There are many ways to take CBD: Oils and tinctures, edibles, vapes, and topicals, to name just a few. Generally speaking, edible CBD products are considered one of the least effective ways to take CBD. Since it has to pass through the digestive system to get to where it is needed, a lot may be lost on the way.
However, if you are taking CBD for a gastrointestinal issue such as celiac disease or a gluten allergy, using an edible product may be best. It makes sense that these products could give your CBD its best chance at getting to where it is needed – the digestive tract.
One of the significant disadvantages of CBD edibles is that they can be slower than other methods to get to work. The upside to this is that they also tend to be effective for longer. The key to using CBD edibles for these conditions is to take them regularly to keep inflammation at bay, rather than waiting for symptoms to occur.
Can I Use CBD if I Have a Gluten Allergy? Final Thoughts
If you have a wheat allergy, gluten intolerance, or celiac disease, you will be happy to hear that CBD is naturally gluten-free. And if this is music to your ears, you will be even more excited to discover that CBD could actually help to relieve some of your symptoms!
Although more research needs to be done into the effects of CBD on the gastrointestinal system, we do know that it has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. This could translate to reductions in pain and a lower risk of permanent intestinal damage. CBD could also help with other symptoms such as nausea and appetite loss through its interaction with the body’s ECS.
This is amazing news, especially if you are one of the 30% of people with celiac disease who still suffer from symptoms, even when eating a gluten-free diet. However, you should always exercise caution and choose a CBD brand that is certified gluten-free to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
If you suffer from a wheat allergy, gluten intolerance, or celiac disease, we would love to hear from you. Have you ever tried using CBD to relieve your symptoms? Did you find it helpful, or did it make your condition worse? Share your experience in the comments below.