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CBD for Digestive Health: Understanding the Effect of Cannabinoids on the Digestive Tract

 CBD for digestive health

Our digestive systems play a critical role in our overall health, from breaking down food to extracting essential nutrients that fuel our bodies. But there’s a lot more to it than that. 

Beyond its primary function of processing food, the digestive system is intricately connected to other aspects of our well-being. It influences our immune system, as a significant portion of our immune cells reside in the gut. A healthy digestive system also contributes to mental well-being, with the gut often referred to as our "second brain" due to its role in producing neurotransmitters that impact mood and emotions.

Cannabinoids, like CBD, can also influence immune health and cognitive well-being to impact digestive health. Without further ado, let’s explore the relationship between cannabinoids and the digestive tract.

Our “Gut” Feelings: How The Digestive System Operates

When we consume food, our teeth and the enzymes in our saliva break down the food into tiny pieces that can travel down the esophagus and into the stomach. 

There, food undergoes additional breakdown by way of digestive enzymes and juices. The now liquid-like substance, called chyme, moves into the small intestine, where fats, proteins and carbohydrates are broken down. These nutrients are then absorbed into the bloodstream where they travel to fuel various organs and tissues. 

The remaining undigested food exits the body via the large intestine and rectum. 

The Immune-Digestive System Connection

The human gut, which refers to the entirety of the gastrointestinal system, contains a diverse collection of microbiota that influence:

  • Energy uptake and storage (by way of digestion)
  • The maturation of immune cells
  • Immune functions

All that said, the digestive system is intricately linked with immune health — 70 percent of immune cells exist within the gut.

Diet has a huge impact on the health of our microbiota and, parallelly, our immune cells. One study found that changing the diets of mice from a low-fat, plant-rich diet to a high-fat, high-sugar diet altered the microbiome within a day by reducing its diversity, causing negative effects on health, such as inflammation.

As such, it’s believed that plant-rich, high-fiber diets are most effective in supporting immune function and regulating inflammatory responses.

Interestingly, the immune system also impacts the digestive processes — namely, regulating which nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. Immune cells can also combat pathogens that cause food poisoning and prevent the absorption of foods with said pathogens. The selective allowance of substances through the intestinal lining into the rest of the body, a critical aspect of this regulation, is known as gut permeability.

The Effects of CBD on Digestive-Immune Health

Cannabidiol, or CBD, refers to a type of cannabinoid found in cannabis plants, which includes both hemp and marijuana. It affects the body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system — a complex system of naturally occurring cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), cannabinoid receptors and cell signaling that plays a role in various physiological processes that help to maintain homeostasis. 

When ingested, smoked or applied topically, it’s believed that CBD can positively impact gut health and, in effect, immune function — and vice versa. To learn more about the different forms and types of CBD, check out our guide so that you’re best informed to choose the right product for you.

CBD’s activation of the CB1 receptors, which are found in the digestive system (but primarily the central nervous system), may help to:

  • Stimulate the secretion of stomach acid
  • Support the function of stomach muscles for improved gut motility
  • Protect the lining of the stomach
  • Inhibit intestinal inflammation

These beneficial actions of CBD on the digestive system suggest its potential as a supportive therapy for various digestive disorders.

When it comes to immune function, CBD is believed to influence the CB2 receptors, which are primarily found within immune cells within the peripheral nervous system. CBD activates these receptors to potentially:

  • Regulate immune function and mitigate inflammatory responses in the gut
  • Maintain a balanced microbiota
  • Neutralize harmful toxins and/or pathogens during the digestive process

The Cognitive-Digestive System Connection

There’s also believed to be a bidirectional relationship between the gut microbiome and mental health. For example, feelings of stress can negatively impact your digestive health, causing symptoms of stomach discomfort. Additionally, a poor microbiome may contribute to increased stress levels by impacting movements within the gastrointestinal tract. 

Researchers call this connection the “gut-brain axis.”

Within the peripheral nervous system exists the enteric nervous system, which is located along the entirety of the gastrointestinal tract. The enteric nervous system communicates with and influences the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and the spinal cord — and, again, vice versa.

The information and communications flow in both directions, helping to regulate:

  • Physical processes in the gut like digestion, absorption of nutrients and gut motility
  • Emotional and/or cognitive aspects that influence feelings, thoughts and mental processes

Accordingly, it’s believed that improving your mental health through therapy or other practices may also help to improve gastrointestinal problems.

The Effects of CBD on Digestive-Cognitive Health

CBD equally impacts both digestive and cognitive health. We’ve already covered its impact on digestive health, but we’ll summarize it again: It can support digestion, inhibit intestinal inflammation and protect gastrointestinal tissues and muscles.

The cannabinoid can also positively impact mental health and cognitive function. When working within the endocannabinoid system, CBD targets the receptor CB1, which populates the central nervous system. In fact, CB1 receptors far outnumber many other receptors in the brain. 

When activated — by CBD or endocannabinoids — they can positively influence:

  • Learning and memory
  • Hunger and eating
  • Emotional processing
  • Sleep
  • Temperature control
  • Physical sensations and discomfort
  • Inflammatory and immune responses

In turn, the activation can also help to support digestive health. For a deeper dive into the main CBD oil benefits, we invite you to explore our detailed article on the topic.

Additional Cannabinoids That May Support Digestive Health

While CBD is one of the more popular and well-known cannabinoids, it isn’t the only one. Cannabis plants house hundreds of cannabinoids, and several may also help to support your digestive health by way of the endocannabinoid system. 

Cannabigerol (CBG)

Often referred to as the “mother of cannabinoids,” CBG is relatively rare as it exists in only small concentrations within the mature cannabis plant. More commonly, CBG is extracted from younger plants, when concentrations are at their highest.

CBG influences both cannabinoid receptors in the body to help improve mental health and cognitive function via:

  • Pleasure enhancement
  • Increased motivation
  • Appetite and sleep regulation
  • Physical relief 

It’s also believed to impact the digestive tract directly, aiding those who experience chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. More specifically, it can help to ease aches or cramping and improve appetite.

Cannabinol (CBN)

As the cannabis plant ages, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, breaks down to form CBN. It’s only about 25 percent as potent as THC, although it may still produce mild psychoactive effects. 

CBN is widely acknowledged to potentially aid sleep, which can support brain function and ease muscle and joint aches, including those within the digestive tract. Its potentially calming properties may also provide relief to people with stress-related digestive issues.

Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)

Before THC is THC, it’s THCA — an acidic form of the cannabinoid that's present in growing cannabis plants. That said, in its original state, THCA is not psychoactive. It’s believed to have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects on the body, which may help to ease gastrointestinal issues, as well as support healthy brain-gut communication, respectively.

Cannabichromene (CBC)

CBC is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid and known CB2 receptor agonist, meaning it activates the receptor and may help to regulate immune function and gut health. Its connection to the endocannabinoid system also suggests that it may: 

  • Have anti-inflammatory properties
  • Help ease gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Improve mental health
  • Support brain health

While CBC offers its unique benefits, understanding how it compares to CBD can be crucial for informed usage. For an in-depth exploration of the differences and similarities between these two cannabinoids, check out our detailed article on CBC vs CBD.

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)

Research does not suggest that THCV produces a psychoactive reaction. Rather, it may actually inhibit mind-altering effects when used in conjunction with THC. When taken, it may suppress your appetite and ease both inflammation and physical discomfort.

Best CBD For Digestive Health

So, where can you find cannabinoids like these? 

Full spectrum CBD products and broad spectrum CBD products both contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, in addition to terpenes and flavonoids. 

(Note: Broad-spectrum CBD does not contain THC, and full spectrum CBD only contains trace amounts).

Together, these compounds create what researchers call the “entourage effect,” in which each element works together synergistically to enhance their overall impact within the body. Isolate CBD — a pure form of CBD — does not contain additional cannabinoids and may not be the most effective choice for people looking to benefit from a combination of cannabinoids for digestive health. 

Support Your Digestive Health With Zebra CBD

The digestive system is intricately connected to immune and cognitive function, and so too is CBD. That said, the cannabinoid’s impact on the endocannabinoid system is vast, and it has the potential to support the management of digestive issues both directly and indirectly.

If you’re looking to support your digestive health, shop Zebra CBD online. We offer a variety of full spectrum CBD products that can help support full-body wellness, whether you’re looking for premium CBD oil, a CBD topical,  or even tasty CBD gummies for sale

Each of our products contains premium CBD made from organic hemp extract. They’re also pesticide-free, tested for purity and guaranteed to match the label every time. For total transparency, cross-check your product with our Certificate of Analysis (COA) database. You’ll be able to verify testing results, ingredients and potency with just a few clicks to ensure what travels through your digestive system is exactly what your body needs. 

Ultimately, Zebra CBD just makes sense — a lot like the connection between cannabinoids and the digestive tract. 



  1. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Nutrition and Immunity.
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Digestive System.
  3. Yale News. Gut reaction: Intestinal immune system affects food processing, too.
  4. UCLA Health. If you want to boost immunity, look to the gut.
  5. Harvard Medical School. Diet, Gut Microbes, and Immunity.
  6. Harvard Health Publishing. The Gut-Brain Connection.
  7. Harvard Health Publishing. The Endocannabinoid System: Essential and Mysterious.
  8. VeryWellMind. Cannabigerol (CBG).
  9. WebMD. CBD vs CBN.
  10. Healthline. THCV. 


Co-founder of Copycat Copywriters, Adam has written for dozens of CBD and cannabis companies on a wide array of topics, including regulations, economics, farming practices and biochemistry.

About the Author

Adam Biederman Image

Adam Biederman

As co-founder and lead writer of Copycat Copywriters, one of Adam’s primary areas of expertise is within the budding CBD and cannabis space. He has written for dozens of CBD and cannabis companies, producing a collection of white papers, press releases, blog posts, articles and ebooks about a wide array of industry-related subjects, including regulations, economics, farming practices and biochemistry.