cannabis diarrhea

CBD and diarrhea

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  1. Research overview
  2. The studies
  3. Patient perspectives
  4. What the experts say
  5. Bottom line

CBD oil has been gaining traction among cannabis doctors and patients as a potential remedy for ailments ranging from arthritis to epilepsy. Taking CBD oil generally causes few side effects compared with many prescription medications and over-the-counter painkillers. There are possible side effects associated with CBD, though these may be rare and/or only occur in high oral doses.

Can using CBD oil help diarrhea? Or can CBD oil cause diarrhea? In this article, we’ll take a look at the effects of the cannabinoid on the body and highlight the most current research on CBD oil and diarrhea.

Research overview

In 2019, the Mayo Clinic reported that CBD is generally well-tolerated but may cause a number of side effects — among them, diarrhea. At least two studies have confirmed a possible link between CBD oil and diarrhea, but research is still emerging and it’s important to consult your physician about starting a regimen and determining appropriate dosages.

The studies

Can CBD oil help diarrhea?

For some people, CBD oil and other cannabis products may help alleviate diarrhea and other symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). According to a 2016 literature review published in the journal Gastroenterology & Hepatology, cannabis and CBD may be used therapeutically to treat IBD. The authors of the review expressed concern for the side effects of cannabis on IBD patients, but ultimately concluded, “A significant portion of IBD patients, particularly those with severe disease, use cannabis to relieve symptoms of pain, nausea, and appetite and to improve their overall mood.” It is worth noting that the researchers focused on cannabis overall and not specifically CBD products.

For some people, CBD oil and other cannabis products may help alleviate diarrhea and other symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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One 2018 randomized control trial examined whether a CBD-rich botanical extract could help people with ulcerative colitis, a type of IBD with a litany of symptoms including diarrhea. Results, published in the scientific journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, determined that “CBD-rich botanical extract may be beneficial for symptomatic treatment of ulcerative colitis.”

Can CBD oil cause diarrhea?

One 2019 report, published in the journal Current Neuropharmacology, discussed the effects of CBD based on clinical trials of the FDA-approved drug Epidiolex, which is derived from CBD and prescribed to treat severe cases of childhood epilepsy. It also looked at the use of Epidiolex to treat psychiatric problems. The researchers determined that diarrhea was among the most common adverse effects for individuals taking Epidiolex to treat epilepsy and psychiatric disorders. They noted, however, that the incidence of any side effect was low compared to other drugs used to treat such conditions.

In 2018, results of randomized CBD trials were published in the journal CNS Drugs. In these trials, CBD was found to have a high level of tolerance with minimal adverse effects. Similar to the Epidiolex trials, these studies showed that diarrhea was among the most common side effects of CBD and occurred more frequently in individuals on a regimen of the cannabinoid than those taking a placebo. Researchers reported that the effects ranged from mild to moderate, with no severe cases.

Patient perspectives

Brooke Bogdan has been using medical cannabis since 2012 to address symptoms of ulcerative colitis. In a 2019 article published in Everyday Health, Bogdan shared how medical marijuana helped her find relief from chronic pain. When she started using cannabis, Bogdan’s condition was so severe that she needed to have a total colectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the colon.

Prior to the surgery, Bogdan had endured constant discomfort and nightly insomnia, but with the integration of medical marijuana into her treatment, she has witnessed vast improvements. Bogdan wrote, “Cannabis helped provide an outlet of relief for me when I was close to losing my life. When prescription medication doesn’t help my ulcerative colitis symptoms, I turn to cannabis.”

To help alleviate diarrhea, it is suggested to use CBD oil vape pens, tinctures and dabs rather than edibles. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Specifically, Bogdan mentioned that CBD oil vape pens, as well as tinctures and dabs, have relieved her symptoms. She advised against the consumption of edibles for people coping with ulcerative colitis because, “Our digestive tracts don’t function well, therefore we may not be able to absorb the medication into our systems via chewing and swallowing.”

Other patients have described experiencing minor diarrhea after consuming high levels of CBD. Curt Rollins is a retired florist who lives in Brunswick, Georgia. For more than 30 years, he worked with his hands designing intricate floral arrangements for weddings and baby showers. “I loved the work, but my hands paid the price,” Rollins revealed in a phone interview with Weedmaps.

When Rollins developed debilitating arthritis in both his hands, he turned to over-the-counter painkillers and cortisol shots, but nothing brought relief. Then, his doctor suggested CBD oil and his hands started to improve. “The pain got a lot better without too many side effects. But I did find that my stomach would get a bit upset if I had too much CBD oil every day,” Rollins shared.

How many milligrams of CBD would qualify as excessive? That depends on the individual, but a rule of thumb is that 500 milligrams or more is a high dose of CBD. Rollins continued, “When I reduced the dose or just rubbed the CBD oil on my hands instead of swallowing it too, I didn’t have any problems with nausea or diarrhea anymore.”

So, does CBD oil cause diarrhea? The answer is probably not, as long as you’re using CBD at lower levels under a qualified physician’s care. But elevated doses of CBD (or any medicine) may be problematic and affect the digestive system. Vaping or dabbing CBD can help users avoid the issue completely.

What the experts say

A link between CBD oil and diarrhea may exist, but only at high oral doses, according to Dr. Adie Rae, a neuroscientist at Legacy Research Institute in Portland, Oregon, and a scientific adviser to Weedmaps. “Yes, CBD causes diarrhea at high oral doses, as reported in the Epidiolex clinical trials and randomized clinical trials in adults,” said Rae, referencing the two trials cited in this article.

Rae was quick to add that “most people will not take enough CBD to cause diarrhea; this usually happens at very high doses of 500 milligrams or more.”

Of course, a lower oral dosage of 400 milligrams, for example, could still trigger diarrhea in some individuals. Height and weight may also play a role. In addition, dietary habits, exercise frequency, and general health may influence whether taking CBD oil leads to diarrhea or not.

CBD oil interacts in different ways with the endocannabinoid system of each unique individual. Before you take CBD, discuss your best treatment options with your healthcare provider and always listen to what your body is telling you.

In terms of CBD easing diarrhea, especially acute bouts, Rae noted that there is little evidence that CBD is a directly useful tool. She asserted, however, that “CBD could still improve the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic bowel disorders, even if it doesn’t improve some specific symptoms like diarrhea.”

Other researchers agree. Dr. Timna Naftali, a gastroenterology specialist at Tel Aviv University’s Meir Hospital in Israel, studied the effects of a treatment with 15% CBD and 4% THC on patients with Crohn’s disease. Naftali found that 65% of patients experienced clinical remission and improved quality of life after eight weeks of cannabis treatment.

Bottom line

Mild to moderate diarrhea may coincide with using oral CBD at elevated doses, but no studies currently indicate that such effects are serious or result from taking CBD oil in lower doses or in different forms. As for whether CBD can help gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, the Israeli study is promising but more human trials are needed. For those who want to try it, an inhalable route is probably best.

CBD and diarrhea Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Research overview The studies Patient perspectives What the experts say


Updated on April 13, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

When it comes to your digestive system, does marijuana for diarrhea work? According to many happy patients, it does. Good health begins in your gut. Medical cannabis works like a dietary supplement or food when your body absorbs it. It even has some control over your gastrointestinal system. Keep reading to learn why this miracle herb is a beneficial natural treatment when you’re suffering from diarrhea.

How and Why Marijuana Can Be an Effective Treatment for Diarrhea

While medical cannabis does treat diarrhea and constipation, in some cases, it could cause them too. Patients who vaporize or smoke medical pot don’t experience these symptoms. But, if you use oils or edibles to treat your illness, you could experience these side effects.

According to some earlier studies, THC can slow your digestive tract down. Oils and edibles could have ingredients in them affecting how slowly or quickly your digestive system processes food.

To date, several states have approved medical marijuana for qualifying conditions, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s, both of which cause some or most patients to have diarrhea.

The Positive Effect of Medical Marijuana for Diarrhea

With common cases of this condition, diarrhea can go away without treatment, but if it persists, an individual may become extremely dehydrated or pass blood in their stool. Medical marijuana is a potentially beneficial treatment option for bowel disorders and stomach problems. With the use of cannabis as an alternative treatment option, symptoms of diarrhea have subsided greatly, and the overall condition of the patient improved as well.

Cannabis works as a motivator for the anodyne part of morphine, which stimulates the central nervous system and serves as a natural appetite booster. Medical marijuana makes a phenomenal stride in the department of speeding up your digestive tract to recover faster from your condition.

Cannabinoid receptor agonists interrupt and delay gastric emptying in both rodents and humans. They could also hinder gastric acid secretion. THC and other synthetic and natural cannabinoids possess anti-inflammatory properties. The cannabinoids in cannabis for diarrhea helps stop the cramping by relaxing intestinal smooth muscle contractions.

Your body has cannabinoids called anandamides affecting the neurological systems. These systems control your gastrointestinal system. Internal and external cannabinoids have great control over gastrointestinal inflammation and motility, according to research. Additionally, they help reduce gastrointestinal fluid secretion.

What Side Effects and Symptoms of Diarrhea Can Medical Marijuana Treat?

Although researchers are still building evidence, those with a basic understanding of medical cannabis know how it relieves symptoms in different conditions. Medical marijuana can significantly help with gastrointestinal system disorders like nausea and poor appetite.

Activated cannabinoids can:

  • Improve intestinal motility
  • Relax digestive muscles
  • Decrease abdominal pain and cramping
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Decrease spasms

Cannabinoids like CBD and THC enter your body in the gut through key receptors. They work as anti-inflammatories while signaling your brain to improve regulation of your systems.

Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Diarrhea Symptoms and Their Side Effects

Like with most conditions, medical cannabis for diarrhea works by treating the symptoms. Therefore, when choosing your medical cannabis strain, you want to specifically target the symptoms you’re experiencing with your diarrhea. As mentioned above, weed can help with abdominal pain and cramping, inflammation, nausea, loss of appetite, depression and anxiety and other symptoms.

Below are some common strains to target these specific symptoms.

Abdominal Pain and Cramping

  • Honey Bananas (hybrid)
  • Black Diesel (Sativa)
  • Grape Kush (hybrid)


  • Lemon G (Sativa)
  • Cookies Kush (Indica)
  • Mazar I Sharif (Indica)


  • King’s Kush (Indica)
  • Orange Haze (hybrid)
  • Allen Wrench (Sativa)

Loss of Appetite

  • Ice (hybrid)
  • Sugar Kush (Indica)
  • Purple Candy (hybrid)

Depression and Anxiety

  • Sour Tangie (Sativa)
  • LA Kush (hybrid)
  • Caramelicious (hybrid)

Best Methods of Marijuana Treatment for the Side Effects and Symptoms of Diarrhea

Medical cannabis is a plant with a complex chemical form and isn’t the same as taking a pill. Budtenders can grow the plants in a lab to create different variations of strains to help with different conditions and symptoms.

Administering your marijuana and diarrhea treatment is also part of this equation and also has different variations. You may consume cannabis in many ways. Each way will have its benefits and drawbacks, and you don’t get the same dosage in each delivery method. You’ll likely go through a trial-and-error phase before you get marijuana’s medicinal value perfectly tailored to your symptoms.

However, once you find the methods working for you through experimentation, you’ll begin seeing the benefits. Patients have tried these delivery methods with success, and they could be a good starting point for you.

  • Vaporizers
  • Smoking cannabis
  • Tinctures
  • Cannabis oils
  • Edibles
  • Beverages that absorb right into your gastrointestinal tract

A cannabis doctor will be able to give you recommendations for your symptoms, but you’ll still have a lot of leeway in finding the right cannabis and diarrhea treatment strain and delivery method that’s right for you.

Get Relief From Your Diarrhea With Medical Marijuana

If you’re interested in beginning marijuana and diarrhea treatment, need more information or are seeking consultation from a medical cannabis physician, visit our website to begin your search for a doctor or find a dispensary. pre-screens all their cannabis doctors to ensure they’re licensed and experienced to prescribe marijuana for your qualifying condition. They’ll help you tailor the perfect medical weed treatment regimen for your unique situation.

What Is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is water and loose bowel movements or stool. If you have three or more loose bowel movements in a day, you have diarrhea. Acute diarrhea doesn’t last very long and is a common issue for many people. It typically lasts for no more than a couple of days and will go away on its own.

If your diarrhea lasts for more than the common one to two days, it could indicate a more serious problem. For instance, if you have chronic diarrhea continuing for more than four weeks, it could be a sign of a chronic disease, and you’ll want to have your doctor check you out right away.

Anyone can get diarrhea, no matter what age they are. Adults in the U.S., on average, have acute diarrhea at least once annually. Children have it at least twice a year on average. Those visiting other countries and consuming contaminated water or food may end up with traveler’s diarrhea.

Symptoms of Diarrhea

The primary symptom of diarrhea is when you pass watery, loose bowel movements more than a couple of times a day.

With diarrhea, you may also experience symptoms such as:

  • Cramping
  • Nausea
  • The urgent need to go to the bathroom
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of bowel movement control

If an infection causes your diarrhea, you may experience:

  • Fever and chills
  • Bloody stools
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness and light-headedness

Diarrhea could lead to malabsorption and dehydration.

History of Diarrhea

A study shows diarrhea-related death in children in the U.S. declined significantly from the 1960s and into the 1980s. Between the first three years and the last two years of the study, there was a 40 percent increase in the diarrhea-related death rate. And, while mortality among children in the U.S. did stabilize, it seems to be growing recently.

Types of Diarrhea

Perhaps surprisingly, several types of diarrhea exist, including:

Acute Diarrhea

You have acute diarrhea when you have three or more loose, watery bowel movements a day lasting for 13 days or less. When you have it 14 days or more, doctors call it persistent. Infectious agents like bacteria, viruses or parasites usually cause acute diarrhea, and the condition doesn’t require medicine unless you’re immunocompromised.

Persistent Diarrhea

This type lasts two weeks or longer. Persistent diarrhea may result from an underlying condition, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome.

Chronic Diarrhea

If your diarrhea continues for more than a month, it’s chronic diarrhea. Like persistent diarrhea, chronic, inflammatory bowel conditions, like colitis and Crohn’s disease, are often associated with it.

Traveler’s Diarrhea

Traveler’s diarrhea is an intestinal and stomach infection occurring due to unsanitary food handling. If food handlers don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom, they can transmit the infection to others who are consuming the contaminated food.

Certain developing countries have a higher risk of contracting traveler’s diarrhea, such as the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Your risk of traveler’s diarrhea will depend on where you’re consuming the food. You have a relatively low risk if you’re eating food you prepare on your own, and a higher likelihood if consuming food from street vendors. The E. coli bacterium is the most common offender.

Diarrhea Based on Pathophysiology

Four other mechanisms of how the illness occurs can put diarrhea under a whole different classification. These types of diarrhea include:

  1. Inflammatory Diarrhea—With this diarrhea, your colon lining becomes inflamed, causing bloody diarrhea. Individuals with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis get this type of diarrhea more often than others.
  2. Osmotic Diarrhea—This condition is where you have water retention in your bowel due to a build-up of non-absorbable substances. A good example is sugar substitutes, like mannitol and sorbitol, which slow absorption and cause rapid small intestine motility.
  3. Motility-Related Diarrhea — You may have digestive system function changes because of certain conditions which affect absorption. Irritable bowel syndrome, hyperthyroidism or having a partial gastrectomy are examples of conditions or situations causing motility-related diarrhea.
  4. Secretory Diarrhea — Your body releases water into your small intestine when there’s something affecting electrolyte absorption. Certain drugs and infection can cause this type of diarrhea.

All types of diarrhea can lead to dehydration and keep your body from performing its essential functions. If left untreated, this can result in other serious problems like:

  • Kidney failure
  • Seizures
  • Hypovolemic shock
  • Death

You can avoid these complications by receiving proper treatment promptly.

Effects of Diarrhea

Acute diarrhea is typically harmless. But you’re at risk of dehydration with chronic diarrhea due to fluid loss. Dehydration can be life-threatening, so it’s crucial you’re drinking lots of fluids. You may be suffering from dehydration if you experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Excessive thirst
  • Fever
  • Dark urine
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue

If you experience any signs of dehydration, see your doctor.


Your small intestine works to absorb nutrients. Small intestine malfunctions leading to chronic diarrhea can result in malnutrition.

Diarrhea can hinder your absorption of nutrients and lead to malnutrition. Additionally, malnutrition makes you more susceptible to infections resulting in diarrhea. Symptoms and signs of malnutrition include:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Poor growth
  • Fatigue
  • Decaying teeth
  • Learning difficulties
  • Dry skin

Electrolyte Imbalance

When your intestines don’t absorb fluids, minerals or electrolytes stay in your stool, and when you have a bout of diarrhea, they get flushed out. Your body needs the right electrolyte balance to support organ functions, maintain blood chemistry and help in muscle actions.

Mental Effects

While studies of the mental effects of diarrhea are limited, there may be a link between certain symptoms and corresponding emotional responses. Some responses may include:

  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Embarrassment
  • Fear

For instance, diarrhea is common in people with HIV/AIDS and is quite distressing to them.

One study, in particular, shows an association between diarrhea and poor quality of life in patients with certain illnesses like HIV/AIDS. These patients claimed their diarrhea was controlling them — it made them feel dirty and ashamed. Not being able to control where and when they experienced diarrhea caused these patients with a great deal of emotional distress.

Diarrhea often makes individuals fearful of being humiliated in public if they experience fecal incontinence. It leaves these individuals feeling like they need to limit their activities to avoid the possibility of this happening. Living a more inhibited life can result in conditions such as:

  • Social isolation
  • Feelings of loneliness
  • Depression
  • Diminished quality of life

Symptoms of diarrhea can also lead to anxiety when it undermines the individual’s sense of control over their health and increases feelings of vulnerability.

Diarrhea Statistics

Facts related to diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include:

  • One in nine children in the world diesfrom diarrheal diseases — 2,195 children a day.
  • Around 88 percent of deaths associated with diarrhea are due to inadequate sanitation, unsafe water and insufficient hygiene.

The Cleveland Clinic estimates:

  • Adults in the U.S. experience around 99 million acute diarrhea episodes or gastroenteritis each year.
  • These episodes lead to around 8 million doctor visits a year and more than 250,000 adult hospital admissions.

Current Treatments Available for Diarrhea and Their Side Effects

If your diarrhea is short-term and mild, you typically don’t need to take anything for it. You may try to alleviate symptoms with over-the-counter medications like loperamide or bismuth subsalicylate.

Diarrhea will stop on its own without treatment in a couple of days. Your doctor may prescribe you certain medications or another treatment if home remedies and lifestyle changes don’t stop your diarrhea.

If you have a condition causing your diarrhea, such as inflammatory bowel disease, your physician will prescribe treatment to control the condition. They may also refer you to a gastroenterologist.

Common diarrhea treatment methods are listed below.


The ideal way to replace your fluids is by drinking water, but water doesn’t contain essential electrolytes, salts and minerals like potassium and sodium. Your body needs these. Along with water, eat soup for sodium and drink fruit juices to get your potassium. Don’t drink apple juice, however, because it can make your diarrhea worse.

If you experience more occurrences of diarrhea or an upset stomach by drinking fluids, your doctor may suggest you receive your fluids through a vein in your arm.

The doctor may suggest an oral rehydration solution for children like Pedialyte to replace fluids or prevent dehydration.


If parasites or bacteria are causing your diarrhea, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. However, antibiotics won’t help if you have diarrhea due to a virus. Side effects of antibiotics could include:

  • Vomiting
  • Severe watery diarrhea
  • Vaginal discharge or itching
  • White patches on your tongue
  • Allergic reactions like shortness of breath, lip and tongue swelling and rash

See your doctor if you’re experiencing side effects from the antibiotics. They may prescribe you another treatment.

See how medical marijuana could help relieve your diarrhea symptoms. The THC in weed can slow your digestive tract down and help with diarrhea.