CBD for IBD: Can Marijuana Help Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

Medical vs. Recreational marijuana

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) occurs when the gastrointestinal tract becomes inflamed. This inflammation can cause pain, bleeding, and changes in appetite, as well as a variety of other symptoms. Inflammatory bowel disease can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life and symptoms can present a variety of challenges.

Inflammatory bowel disease is typically attributed to two conditions: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Management of these conditions can be complicated. Inflammatory bowel disease affects about three million Americans, with individuals aged 15 to 30 commonly being the most impacted.

Learning about inflammatory bowel disease is important so that you can watch for the symptoms and know if you might be dealing with this condition. 

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What Causes Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

There isn’t a definitive cause of inflammatory bowel disease. Some believe that a weakened immune system is the main culprit. Others cite diet and lifestyle factors as the cause, but it’s possible that these things worsen symptoms instead of bringing them on.

It’s likely that genetics can play a strong role in inflammatory bowel disease. However, a family history of IBD is not required for a diagnosis to be made. At the same time, it’s possible for someone to have a family history, but not have an official diagnosis. Because of this, it’s important to speak with your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Signs & Symptoms

Recognizing inflammatory bowel disease can be complicated, as it shares symptoms with other conditions. If you think you may have inflammatory bowel disease, consider speaking with a doctor about your concerns.

If you are experiencing inflammatory bowel disease, you may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Consistent diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bloody stool

It’s important to pay attention to the symptoms of IBD. This condition is serious, and it’s important to get medical attention as soon as possible if you have concerning symptoms.

How Cannabis Can Help Alleviate Inflammatory Bowel Disease Symptoms

man feeling unwell

Inflammatory bowel disease can be extremely difficult to cope with. Its symptoms can present serious problems and make it challenging for an individual to go about their daily life.

If you’re struggling with IBD, know that there are options out there that can provide relief. For many individuals, one of those options is cannabis.

Cannabis is quickly becoming recognized as an option for reducing inflammatory bowel disease symptoms. Recent research has shown that cannabis could help with some IBD symptoms.

While cannabis may have a role in directly treating IBD, it can also provide relief for its symptoms. Weight loss is a common symptom of IBD and one study found that 72.9% of its participants gained weight and had their appetite restored as a result of cannabis use. 

Perhaps one of the most important applications is that of marijuana for stomach inflammation. When taking cannabis specifically to reduce inflammation, consider the dose you’ll take, as it’s possible that taking cannabis for inflammation requires a lower dose than for other applications. 

Crohn’s disease is one of the main conditions that has been linked to IBD. Research has shown that cannabis can provide relief for Crohn’s disease. In one study, 10 out of 11 subjects found that cannabis reduced their Crohn’s disease activity, and 5 of those subjects were declared to be in complete remission after marijuana use. 

As more research is conducted, we can better understand how cannabis and IBD interact, and the role medical marijuana may play in treating related conditions and their symptoms.

Legality and Doctor’s Recommendation

To determine if your state considers inflammatory bowel disease to be a qualifying condition for medical marijuana, check out our Laws & Regulations section for the medical cannabis rules for your state.

If you find that your state recognizes inflammatory bowel disease or its symptoms as a qualifying medical condition, you can seek a doctor’s recommendation to get your medical cannabis card in your state.

How NuggMD Can Help

NuggMD is the nation's leading medical marijuana technology platform, serving patients in 22 states and growing. We’ve connected over 1,000,000 patients with their new medical marijuana doctors face-to-face via our state-of-the-art telemedicine platform. 

We believe that every human being has the right to explore the benefits of medical cannabis and are fully committed to helping each patient explore all of their options in their journey to wellness. For further information on whether you qualify for medical cannabis, select your state.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Cannabis & Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Dealing with inflammatory bowel disease can be overwhelming and feel isolating. If you’re struggling, know that you’re not alone. Below are some common questions about this condition.

Can cannabis help with other types of inflammation? 

Cannabis has shown significant promise in reducing inflammation. THC’s ability to reduce inflammation plays a role in its pain relief properties. If you’re struggling with inflammation, consider speaking with your doctor about whether cannabis could provide you with relief.

Will cannabis cure my chronic symptoms? 

Cannabis is not a cure for inflammatory bowel disease. Instead, it may provide symptom relief. Symptoms will likely continue to present themselves, but many cannabis consumers have reported some relief after adding medical marijuana to their treatment regimen.

Does marijuana help IBS? 

Many people associate IBD and IBS, but they are two separate conditions. It is possible that cannabis could help alleviate some IBS symptoms. There is not enough research to make a definitive claim about this, but it’s likely that cannabis could help those with IBS.

Can I get a medical card for IBS? 

IBS is not typically a qualifying condition for a medical marijuana card. However, some of its symptoms may help someone qualify for medical marijuana. For example, chronic nausea, which can be associated with IBD, can be enough for an individual to get a medical marijuana card. 

Is it possible to use CBD for IBD? 

CBD has been shown to help reduce inflammation and other symptoms associated with IBD. If you don’t want the high that THC can provide, then CBD could be an effective alternative for you.

Does marijuana help with diarrhea? 

Cannabis may be able to help restore digestive balance and reduce diarrhea. However, if you’re having extreme diarrhea for an extended period of time, consider speaking with a doctor about possible causes and treatments.


1.  Ahmed, Waseem, and Seymour Katz. 2016. “Therapeutic Use of Cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease.” Gastroenterology & Hepatology 12 (11): 668–79. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5193087/.

2.  Ravikoff Allegretti, Jessica, Andrew Courtwright, Matthew Lucci, Joshua R. Korzenik, and Jonathan Levine. 2013. “Marijuana Use Patterns among Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.” Inflammatory Bowel Diseases 19 (13): 2809–14. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.mib.0000435851.94391.37.

3.  Naftali, Timna, Raphael Mechulam, Lihi Bar Lev, and Fred M. Konikoff. 2014. “Cannabis for Inflammatory Bowel Disease.” Digestive Diseases (Basel, Switzerland) 32 (4): 468–74. https://doi.org/10.1159/000358155.

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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