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  • Writer's pictureAshley Oswald, RDN, IFNCP, CNSC, CLT, LD

Understanding How to Use CBD Oil for Anxiety, Pain, and Gut Health

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Video Transcript:

So today you guys voted and the topic is, does CBD oil help gut health?

I actually did a full PubMed review on it, all a hundred and some studies that came up.

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And it was really interesting to see some of the new research that was just published last month and even some from June 2020. And so it's a hot topic.

I'm hoping to help clarify some of the confusion. What is CBD? Is it pot? Is it marijuana? Am I going to get high? How is it grown?

So in this blog, we're going to cover all of that.

We'll talk about what it is, the history of how it relates to Crohn's disease, gut pain, leaky gut, if it can help with sleep and anxiety, depression, and inflammation.

And all of that connects to gut health, of course, in one way or another.

Lastly, we'll talk about whether there are any adverse effects. And there are some contamination issues that I want to share with you as well.

So let's go ahead and dive in!

Cannabis vs. Marijuana vs. Hemp, and CBD vs THC - What Does This All Mean?

I want to start by giving you a big picture of what CBD is, and an overview of how it differs from THC cannabis.

And then we'll talk about all those different disease states.

So cannabis - you can think of that word as the overarching word - cannabis.

And then under it we have hemp and we have marijuana. These are two different varieties of cannabis.

You might already know that hemp is where we're getting the majority of CBD from, but marijuana has CBD as well.

Marijuana also has THC, which has psychoactive properties (meaning you can get "high" on marijuana because of the THC).

Hemp on the other hand, has very little THC.

The United States federal government defines hemp as containing THC levels of 0.3% or lower. Whereas with marijuana, it's closer to 15% THC.

So now that this is a bit more clear, what we're going to be talking about today is the hemp CBD.

Hemp CBD is a flowering herb. It's indigenous to many places in the world, and it's been used for thousands of years for different industrial purposes and different medicinal purposes. A lot of people don't know this!

Yes, we make CBD out of hemp, but you can also make rope and clothing and paper and so many other things. It's a really sustainable plant that can be used for so many products!

The History of Hemp Legalization in the United States

Due to the issues of THC in the United States, in the 1930s, hemp was not allowed to be grown.

In 2018, that changed when a farm bill passed that made it now once again, legal to be able to grow and sell hemp in the United States!

And that's what sparked a lot of this CBD oil trend because now it is legal.

Benefits of CBD and THC

CBD oil works on something called the endocannabinoid system. Everybody has one, and it's over 600 million years old, so even older than humans.

The endocannabinoid system helps to regulate different biological processes like pain and sleep and mood and appetite.

Interestingly, in 1998, the National Institute of Health submitted a patent on CBD (the one with 0.3% or lower of that psychoactive THC).

This was awarded in 2003 saying that cannabinoids can act as antioxidants and neuroprotectants, so brain protectants.

And in that patent, it described CBD as a potent antioxidant, stronger than vitamin C and vitamin E, and it can help neuroprotectant, so brain protectant from head traumas like a concussion or brain damage from strokes.

How exciting is this?

Does Marijuana and Higher THC have Health Benefits?

On the flip side, CBD's brother THC is showing some medical promise too.

And that is with epilepsy. Marijuana is being used to help kids suffering from seizures due to epilepsy, and some families are even moving to states where marijuana is legal, to help their kids. It's been shown to be very effective!

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Also, this is interesting, when I was in my internship in Boston at Brigham and Women's Hospital, I remember learning about a drug called Marinol.

Marinol is a drug that we would recommend to patients who are suffering from a poor appetite.

The patient might be going through chemotherapy, maybe they had other illnesses where they just didn't have an appetite, they weren't eating, and that malnutrition was really making it hard for them to recover from whatever they were going through.

So we would often talk to the doctor about maybe using Marinol (or there are some other ones that can help, like Remeron, which is an antidepressant, that can help to make people have a higher appetite too), but Marionol is actually a synthetic THC.

So we have on the market this kind of fake THC, while the more natural plant version of this was illegal for so long, and still is in many states!

Understanding the benefits of using CBD Oil for Anxiety, Pain, and Gut Health

CBD and Crohn's Disease

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Let's start by talking about Crohn's disease.

There is some research showing that CBD oil was able to reduce the permeability of the gastrointestinal tract. Another way to say this, is that CBD oil could improve leaky gut!

Which could help to improve a variety of conditions that can have a root cause in intestinal permeability, like inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis).

Intestinal permeability could also be the cause of someone having a long list of food sensitivities. If we can improve and heal the gut, then often at our clinic, we see food sensitivities lessen or even go away! Amazing right?

So long story short, CBD oil could help help to heal that gut lining.

Further, in vitro research (Petri dish research) shows that CBD oil was able to reduce inflammation! Which is exciting.

On the flip side, one research study showed that CBD oil did not alter Crohn's disease activity and did not improve c reactive protein levels, which is a lab marker used to evaluate all-over inflammation in the body.

In March of 2019, there was a study on children in Colorado with IBD Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis that showed that those using CBD oil perceived some medical benefit by reducing, and helping to relieve pain caused by those diseases. Whether this is a placebo effect or not, we don't know, but either way, it's great news!

So ultimately, the story here tells us that, there is some promise to using CBD oil with Crohn's disease, and we simply need more research to better understand the potential benefits!

CBD, Cannabis, and Pain

Research shows estimations of cannabis use showing 75% improvement in pain! How exciting is that?

Further, a study from May of 2020 from Israel was done on 101 people who had fibromyalgia symptoms for eight and a half years. And if you don't know, fibromyalgia can cause a lot of pain.

In this study, they found that using cannabis enabled nearly half of the patients to discontinue their treatment for fibromyalgia and all of them recommended it to their loved ones in case they get the severe disease. How incredible is that?

And in January and February of 2020, Cannabis was shown to help with fibromyalgia again, especially for sleep and improving quality of life. That was the version with THC (marijuana).

So the questions remain - is it the CBD helping? The THC? How much of the THC vs the CBD?

We will need more research to determine this, but for most people, all forms are pretty safe.

In nutrition, often we just need to review the research we have, and then weight the potential benefits to potential risks of each intervention, as we will likely never have perfect research in nutrition science, for many reasons including funding, but also because there are always simply too many variable to control for when trying to research a nutrition supplement.

However, I digress, and we can talk more about that a different time. Onto CBD and insomnia now!

CBD and Insomnia

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Insomnia means difficulty sleeping.

And there is some research showing that CBD oil can help with sleep duration, and length of sleep!

Further, it improved the perceived sleep, overall stress, and life pleasure. Meaning, people woke up feeling like, they slept better and had a better day because of this!

CBD Oil for Anxiety

Yes, research shows that CBD can also help to reduce anxiety, which, could then help to improve irritable bowel syndrome, as often anxiety is a common trigger of IBS.

This is well understood, because yoga can help to improve IBS too, because of how it can help to reduce stress and anxiety.

On the flip side, there was research on public speaking-associated anxiety, and CBD was not shown to help with this.

Overall, CBD does seem to help anxiety in general.

CBD and Depression

Yes - CBD has been shown to have anti-depressive effects as well.

CBD and Arthritis

Above we talked a bit about inflammation, and we also have research showing how CBD helped to improve rheumatoid arthritis by blocking disease progression.

Supplement Contamination Issues & Potential Adverse Effects

In 2016, a met analysis of 17 studies showed that there can be contaminants in the CBD oil that somebody was taking.

And this led to deaths, unfortunately.

Probably not due to the CBD oil, but rather the supplement contamination due to leaching of heavy metals from the soil that the plant is grown in.

So if somebody is pregnant, I would really caution against using CBD oil because of the contamination issue.

The main side effect of cannabis is just some sleepiness, which is shown to be in about 30% of people.

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Supplement Labeling Concerns

First of all, as mentioned, CBD oil, it's technically needs to have less than 0.3 of that THC, that psycho the high one, the THC.

A study found that out of 84 products commercially available in the United States, only 26 were labeled accurately.

And the concern of that is that 21% actually contained unlabeled THC in it, the psychoactive component.

And so this is one of the reasons why if pregnant, you will want to stay cautious.

Further, there's some animal research showing that it might be damaging for the reproductive symptom system of male babies.

So as far as contamination, the THC could be in the CBD, the pesticides, some heavy metals, and then of course possibly bacteria, and fungus.

This contamination happens because the cannabis plant is classified as a phytoremediator, which means that it can, readily, it can absorb contaminants in this soil.

This is why it's, you should have more of a concern for the contamination of these products and should make sure you're buying a product from a reputable company. Growing cannabis in healthy soil is so so important!

And then as far as the contamination with the THC, that is a reason why some places like the US military (Army, Air Force Coast Guard), forbid the use of any of the hemp products, is because of that small amount of the THC.

And so always keep this in mind as you think about where you work, what you do, if you regularly drug tested. Certainly, CBD should have less than 0.3%, but as I just mentioned, 21% of the products had more.

And, even if the product is just at 0.3%, we aren't sure if that might trigger some of the tests.

Take CBD Oil with Healthy Fat

If you are taking CBD oil, make sure to take it with healthy fat or foods high in healthy fat, because it actually has been shown that if you take CBD with fat, the absorption, and the plasma levels, can increase by four to 14 fold vs. if you don't.

So that's something also to keep in consideration with the dosage that somebody is taking.

Because if you're taking a smaller dose, but if you're taking it with fat, you're going to get increased absorption, which these studies are showing.


In summary, CBD has the potential to help with Crohn's disease, pain, sleep, anxiety, depression, and inflammation.

And, it is well tolerated and overall, very safe if you are purchasing a high quality supplement.

Be careful of contamination through buying from a reputable source, and avoid if your job requires drug testing due to variations in THC content of products.

Overall, CBD oil is generally safe to trial to see if it might be of help for you!

We do not offer a CBD product through Flusso, however, here are some reputable product that you can explore:

If you are looking for non-CBD products, then head on over to our store here to explore professional quality supplements by us!

Disclaimer: always check with your nutrition/supplement-literate healthcare provider before starting any supplement, as we can't possibly know your medical history, and no one supplement is safe for everyone.

If you don't have a nutrition/supplement-literate healthcare provider, and would like one, you are welcome to schedule with our sister company - Oswald Digestive Clinic

And if you'd like to watch a video of the same information discussed above, you can watch videos from our sister company Oswald Digestive Clinic

Hope you all have a great rest of your day!

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