Cannabidiol (CBD), is one of more than 110 cannabinoids found in marijuana. It is also available in large quantities in industrial hemp. CBD is non-intoxicating (meaning children can use it), and some experts link it with the alleviation of symptoms ranging from headaches to anxiety.
Aside from not causing a psychoactive high, CBD has few side effects. Still, there is a possibility of getting diarrhea from using too much CBD oil. This seems a little odd since some use CBD to successfully treat the symptoms of gastrointestinal issues (i.e. Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Other commonly reported side effects of CBD include tiredness and changes in appetite and weight.
Why Am I Getting Diarrhea from CBD Oil in the First Place?
Although it doesn’t happen particularly often, some users of CBD oil report feeling sick to their stomach soon after using it. Apart from the upset stomach, you may also take several trips to the bathroom as diarrhea takes hold. Does this mean you are one of the unlucky few who doesn’t react well to cannabidiol?
The likely answer is ‘not necessarily.’ While CBD oil can cause diarrhea as a side effect, it could be the other ingredients in the CBD oil that are causing your gastrointestinal distress instead. It could also be a simple case of flaws during the manufacturing process.
CBD oil can cause diarrhea as a side effect, but it could be other ingredients in the oil that are causing your distress.
CBD typically helps (not causes) stomach issues
In actual fact, most discuss CBD in the context of it helping with stomach issues rather than causing them. When the cannabinoid binds to the CB1 receptor in your endocannabinoid system (ECS), it reduces excessive gastric acid,* increases blood flow to your stomach lining to speed up the healing process,* and aids the lower esophagus in preventing reflux.* CBD may also help heal the digestive tract.*
If you are having GI problems with CBD, your first step should be to analyze the full list of ingredients. As with all health supplements, it is the quality and source of ingredients that make the difference. With CBD oil, hemp or marijuana grown in poor soil can significantly reduce quality. Lapses in quality can also result from including harmful chemicals in the extraction process.
Perhaps the biggest potential issue is the ‘carrier’ oil used in conjunction with the CBD. CBD oil is used with numerous carriers including MCT oil, emu oil, olive oil, hemp seed oil, or grapeseed oil. These carriers may improve the bioavailability of the cannabidiol.*
Beware MCT Oil!
Coconut oil and MCT oil are by far the most common carriers and are two of the possible culprits for stomach pain, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. This may especially be the case when using large quantities.
You may have heard of the ketogenic diet, which helps your body use fat as its main energy source. One of the biggest fads of the modern era is the ‘supercharged’ or ‘bulletproof’ coffee drink. This drink consists of brewed coffee, MCT oil, and grass-fed unsalted butter. It is for those following a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. Proponents claim that they benefit from mental alertness, improved brain function, and more energy after consuming the drink, but you tend to get that feeling when drinking coffee anyway; at least in the short-term.
In any case, there are many reports of bulletproof coffee drinkers being forced to rush to the bathroom. While the coffee itself may be enough to make you go, some experts feel that the fats from the MCT oil could be making the situation worse.
In one study* that assessed the use of coconut oil (from which MCT oil is derived) for improving cholesterol, some participants reported diarrhea as a side effect. Other oils have also been known to be effective as a laxative, such as castor oil. And there have been reports* that people following an MCT ketogenic diet have side effects including bloating, cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea.
How to Avoid Disaster Pants When Using CBD Oil
It might be funny to hear about a person’s travails with diarrhea, at least until you become the victim! If possible, try and learn more about the MCT oil or other ingredients that a firm puts into their CBD tinctures. Email or call them if necessary.
Another option is to try out different CBD oils that have different ingredients or carrier oils. Compare which ones give you diarrhea and which ones do not. If you find that only certain combinations of ingredients cause you diarrhea, avoid those combinations in the future. If you find that they all give you diarrhea, it may be the CBD oil itself that is causing diarrhea. Try looking into edibles, capsules or balms to see if you can consume them without ill-effect.
It is also not wise to consume the CBD oil on an empty stomach, which might be the case when consumed in the morning. Ideally, eat some protein with your CBD to help reduce how quickly the body absorbs it.
If you take CBD oil and have diarrhea, make sure you stop taking it until the symptoms are gone. You may use this time to investigate whether it is another issue, such as stress or your diet, that is causing the problem. If your symptoms do not improve, contact a healthcare provider as you may have a different cause of diarrhea that is unrelated to the CBD oil.
A few final notes
Some doctors are not as “convinced” as others when it comes to the clinical efficacy of CBD. Still, it is more than worth it to try and speak with a general practitioner or healthcare provider about implementing CBD into your lifestyle. CBD (and cannabis in general) are becoming increasingly accepted. As such, more and more physicians are educating themselves as to the compound’s uses and applications.
Finally, be wary of the specific CBD product you’re purchasing. Due to lack of regulations, massive disparities in quality can exist from brand to brand. Take some time to research a few companies, read plenty of reviews, and seek out professional advice before deciding on any one particular brand.