Does CBD Cause Constipation? (Science-Backed Insights & More)

by Kat Austin October 02, 2023 5 min read

Does CBD Cause Constipation? (Science-Backed Insights & More) - Vida Optima™

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in the hemp plant and has gained popularity for its potential therapeutic properties. But with so many people using CBD to treat pain, anxiety, and more, questions about CBD side effects are coming up. Here, we want to address one specific but rare CBD side effect concern: Does CBD cause constipation?

We’ll start with some basics about CBD’s impact on digestion and then take a deeper dive into the science. 

Let’s go:

Table of Contents
CBD and It’s Effects on Digestion
Does CBD Cause Constipation?
What Causes Constipation?
Can CBD Regulate Digestion?
How to Avoid Consitpation When Taking CBD

Key Takeaways

  • Scientific evidence does not strongly support a direct link between CBD and constipation, although individual responses may vary.
  • Some ingredients commonly caused in CBD products may impact digestion, such as gelatin. 
  • Various factors, including diet and hydration, significantly influence digestive health and the potential for constipation.

CBD and Its Effects on Digestion

CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating various bodily functions, including digestion. 

A bottle of CBD oil isolate thoughtfully surrounded by hemp leaves and CBD capsules.

Research suggests that CBD may help maintain a balanced digestive system by interacting with cannabinoid receptors in the gut. This is the reason that CBD is sometimes used to manage various gut-related illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. 

However, CBD’s impact on the gut (via nervous system receptors) has led many to wonder–can CBD cause digestive upset? More specifically, can it cause constipation? 

The Constipation Conundrum: Does CBD Cause Constipation?

Is there a direct link between CBD use and constipation? Scientific evidence and anecdotal reports do not support such a connection.

There is some evidence that suggests that it's possible for CBD to have a negative impact on digestive health, but these studies also highlight the extreme doses needed to cause such an effect. For instance, one study conducted at the University of Mississippi found that extremely high doses of CBD may have a negative impact on the gut microbiome. This could potentially increase gut inflammation, leading to irregularities such as constipation or diarrhea. 

However, this study used substantial doses on animal subjects–equating to over 30,000 milligrams of CBD for a 120 pound human each day. 

In short, we don’t have any reason to believe that regular doses of CBD can cause constipation, rather there may be other underlying factors causing the constipation you’ve experienced since you started taking CBD. 

However, individual responses to CBD can vary. Some people might experience changes in bowel movements, which may be misinterpreted as constipation. Factors such as dosage, overall health, and lifestyle can influence these responses.

What Causes Constipation?

If you’re experiencing constipation, it’s unlikely that CBD is the culprit. Still, you want to know what’s causing the constipation so that you can make corrections to your lifestyle regimen to correct the problem. 

There are some indirect ways that CBD could play a role in causing constipation–especially if you’re taking CBD edibles, which may contain fiber, gelatin, or other ingredients that affect your digestion. 

For instance, CBD gummies may contain gelatin, which is high in protein, and may be difficult to digest for those with delicate digestive tracts. Other products may contain coconut oil or other carrier oils that can affect bowel movements. 

Plus, different types of CBD edibles absorb in different ways, which may affect digestions as well as the onset and duration of effects you experience. 

Otherwise, you may want to take a look at the following factors:

  • Fiber: A lack of fiber is a common cause of many digestive issues, including constipation. Too much soluble fiber (without enough insoluble fiber) can cause the stool to become too bulky. Insoluble fiber helps move food through the digestive tract. You need to make sure you’re getting both!
  • Dehydration: Dehydration is a primary cause of constipation. Without adequate hydration, stools become hard and difficult to pass. 
  • Low activity levels: Being too sedentary can have a negative impact on digestion. More specifically, it can slow it down, causing you to eliminate less frequently. That means a gentle exercise may help stimulate a bowel movement if you’re feeling a bit constipated. 
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as opioids, antacids, and antidepressants, are linked to constipation.
  • Medical conditions: Certain conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), hormone imbalances, diabetes, and food intolerances are also linked to bouts of constipation. 
  • Impacting/Ignoring the Urge: If you “hold it” for too long, stool can become hard and even impacted, making it very difficult to eliminate effectively. 
  • Stress: Stress has a major impact on your digestive system and can be a root cause of both constipation and diarrhea.

On the Flip Side: Can CBD Regulate Digestion?

Scientists have uncovered the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD, commonly prescribed for health issues such as IBS and IBD, prevalent digestive conditions. Emerging research indicates that CBD may assist in regulating the digestive system, potentially alleviating constipation symptoms. 

CBG, another hemp-derived compound akin to CBD, holds promise in promoting healthy bowel function. A 2018 study unveiled CBG's ability to activate the gut-regulating CB1 receptors, potentially enhancing bowel movements and alleviating constipation. Interestingly, CBD appears to share this effect, as a 2016 study illustrated its potential to improve gut motility, lessening symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal pain, and inflammation in animal models. 

While existing findings suggest that both CBD and CBG can aid in bowel regulation, further research is crucial. Always consult your healthcare professional prior to using CBD or CBG for digestive concerns. 

How to Avoid Constipation (When Taking CBD)

CBD is unlikely to lead to constipation in regular doses. However, there may still be situations where you want to take action against constipation while keeping up with your regular CBD dosing routine. 

Luckily, there are proactive steps you can take to mitigate any risks and alleviate symptoms should they arise without affecting your regular CBD dose. Consider these strategies to steer clear of constipation when incorporating CBD into your routine:

  • Prioritize Hydration: Adequate water intake is vital for digestive well-being and can deter constipation. Aim for around half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water. So, if you weigh 150 lbs, you want to drink roughly 75 ounces of water daily. 
  • Boost Fiber Consumption: Opt for fiber-rich foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes to maintain stool softness and prevent constipation.
  • Embrace Regular Exercise: Engage in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes daily to invigorate your digestive system and stave off constipation.
  • Mindful Dietary Choices: Exercise caution with foods and drinks known to cause constipation, such as dairy products, processed foods, red meat, alcohol, and caffeine.
  • Tailored CBD Selection: Different CBD forms may contain ingredients that could potentially induce constipation in specific individuals. Experiment with various CBD products to find the best fit for your digestive system.

CBD: Friendly for Digestion

Vida Optima Vitality CBD Oil

Research and existing knowledge suggest that CBD is more likely to assist in maintaining digestive balance than disrupt it.

So, does CBD cause constipation? Based on the current evidence, a direct link is unlikely. As research progresses, we'll gain a deeper understanding of CBD's role in digestive health. For now, just choose your CBD product wisely and maintain a good water and fiber intake and all should be okay!

When choosing CBD products, look for a product that’s made from high-quality, pesticide-free hemp material and that has been third party tested. 

Vida Optima Vitality CBD products fit the bill. Our selection of CBD gummies, sublingual candies, and CBD oil is 100% Farm Bill compliant and third-party tested to prove label accuracy. Want to learn more? Read:

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