Can CBD Help With Pancreatitis?
- A study in the journal Pancreas revealed that cannabidiol (CBD) had anti-inflammatory effects on mice with acute pancreatitis(1).
- Another study done in 2016 reported that CBD reduced markers of inflammation in the pancreas of non-obese and diabetic rodent test subjects(2).
- Research in 2016 stated that transdermally applied CBD reduced pain and inflammation in arthritic mice(3). Pain, particularly in the abdomen, is a symptom of pancreatitis.
- A 2020 review found in the journal Antioxidants detailed the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of CBD(4). Pancreatitis patients have an inflamed pancreas(5).
- More studies should be conducted on CBD’s effects on pancreatitis and the pancreas.
Why People Are Using CBD for Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis treatment involves pain management, especially in the upper abdomen. Doctors typically prescribe pain medications for this condition(6).
A study published in the journal Pancreas reported that CBD had anti-inflammatory effects on mice with cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis(8).
The researchers also found that CBD improved the pathological changes of the mice test subjects and decreased the activities of the pancreatic enzymes.
Acute pancreatitis is defined as the sudden inflammation of the pancreas. This condition may be mild or life-threatening. However, it typically subsides with supportive management(9).
Cerulein is a decapeptide (amino acids) involved in gastrointestinal smooth muscle contractions and pancreatic and gastric secretions(10).
Research conducted in 2016 stated that CBD reduced inflammation markers in the pancreas of non-obese and diabetic mice(11).
The authors also suggested that CBD treatment lowered the incidence of type 1 diabetes in rodent test subjects.
The pancreas’ inability to produce sufficient insulin may result in type 1 diabetes(12). Insulin is the hormone that allows energy-producing sugar to enter the cells.
A 2019 review in the Journal of Pancreatic Cancer investigated CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) effects on pancreatic cancer. The authors found that CBD and THC had antiproliferative (cell growth-inhibiting) and proapoptotic effects in pancreatic cancer models(13).
The term ‘proapoptotic’ means having the ability to promote apoptosis, the cell’s natural mechanism for programmed death. The loss of apoptotic control may result in a more extended survival period of cancer cells(14).
The authors also suggested that CBD and other cannabinoids may be useful as adjunct therapies for pancreatic cancer. However, they recommend further research on the anti-cancer properties of several cannabinoid formulations, treatment dosing, and more clinical studies.
Cannabinoids are compounds that aid the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in regulating vital functions, such as mood, memory, appetite, and pain perception(15).
Cannabinoids may come from the body or laboratories. They may also be derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, such as CBD and THC.
Unlike CBD, THC has mind-altering effects on individuals who take this substance.
CBD for Pain
Currently, research on the effects of CBD products on abdominal pain is lacking. However, there is literature on CBD’s purported benefits on health conditions related to pain.
A 2016 research reported that transdermal CBD reduced pain and inflammation in mice with arthritis. The rodents that were given 6.2mg and 62mg of transdermal CBD gels per day exhibited diminished swelling of the joints and improved spontaneous pain scores(16).
The authors also noted that CBD did not have adverse effects on the rodents.
A 2020 randomized study in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology examined CBD oil’s effects on patients diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy (damage to nerves outside the brain and spinal cord)(17).
The authors found that intense neuropathic pain was reduced in the patients that were given CBD. Neuropathic pain can also result from chronic pancreatitis.
They also noted that CBD treatment was well-tolerated and might be an effective pain relief alternative to the conventional peripheral neuropathy therapies.
A 2018 study documented in the journal Transplantation Proceedings assessed CBD’s effects on chronic pain in patients who have undergone kidney transplants(18).
Seven patients were given 50mg of CBD twice daily for three weeks. The dosage was slowly increased to 150mg of CBD twice a day.
Two patients reported pain improvement, while four patients experienced a positive partial response to the substance. One patient did not report any changes to their condition.
CBD for Inflammation
Inflammation has a crucial role in acute and chronic pancreatitis(19).
A 2020 review archived in the journal Antioxidants outlined the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD. The researchers also noted that CBD had antioxidant effects(20).
A 2018 study looked into CBD’s effects on an in vitro (research performed outside of a living organism) model of allergic contact dermatitis(21).
The researchers suggested that CBD and other phytocannabinoids modulated inflammatory responses by regulating cytokine production in several experimental models of inflammation.
The researchers noted that CBD demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties in an experimental model of allergic contact dermatitis.
Cytokines are molecules that signal cells and help in cell-to-cell communication. Their role is vital, especially during immune responses, as they stimulate cells to move towards inflammation, infection, or trauma sites(22).
According to research, orally administered CBD might have anti-inflammatory effects. The authors administered CBD to rats that had inflamed paws(23).
They found that CBD improved two symptoms associated with inflammation, which are edema and hyperalgesia.
Edema is defined as swelling caused by excessive fluid trapped in body tissues(24). Hyperalgesia is the increased sensitivity to feeling pain and the extreme response to pain(25).
CBD for Nausea
Nausea and vomiting are some symptoms associated with pancreatitis(26).
According to research archived in the British Journal of Pharmacology, CBD might be clinically useful in relieving vomiting and nausea caused by chemotherapy and other treatments(27).
A 2020 study evaluated the effects of repeated CBD administration on rat and shrew test subjects. The authors discovered that the substance reduced vomiting in shrews(28).
The researchers observed that CBD’s anti-nausea effects were similar in male and female rodents. They suggested that CBD might be an effective anti-nausea and antiemetic (vomit-preventing) treatment for chronic conditions.
The authors also noted that CBD use did not develop tolerance in the test subjects.
How CBD Oil Works to Alleviate Symptoms of Pancreatitis
One of the primary causes of pancreatitis is when digestive enzymes are activated while still in the pancreas. This occurrence irritates the organ’s cells and leads to inflammation(29).
A study found in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America reported that CBD’s inflammatory effects might be caused by its ability to promote signaling of the adenosine receptor A2A(30).
According to the researchers, CBD inhibited the uptake of adenosine and decreased serum tumor necrosis factor. This substance causes inflammation in mice test subjects.
An A2A adenosine receptor antagonist reverses this anti-inflammatory effect, showing that CBD’s action of enhancing adenosine signaling through inhibition of uptake leads to a decrease in inflammation.
Adenosine uptake inhibitors delay the disappearance of adenosine from the extracellular space(31). Adenosine is a potent anti-inflammatory agent that regulates inflammatory cell function(32).
This research presents CBD’s anti-inflammatory mechanism of action that does not involve the cannabinoid receptors. These receptors typically bind with cannabinoids and help the ECS maintain vital body functions.
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Pancreatitis
- Previously mentioned studies showed that CBD could theoretically be promising in the treatment of pancreatitis cases.
- CBD is generally safe to use. It has no adverse side effects(33).
- There are no case reports on CBD dependence in animals and humans(34). Thus, the potential for substance abuse is unlikely.
- Further research is warranted on CBD’s properties and potential ability to help treat pancreatitis. There is no current literature that proves CBD is currently helpful in pancreatitis.
- CBD may have a favorable safety profile. Still, the substance has side effects, including tiredness, changes in weight or appetite, and diarrhea(35).
- CBD use for pancreatitis treatment is not supported by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA).
How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Pancreatitis
Alternative and complementary treatments for pancreatitis include yoga and acupuncture(36).
Research in the journal Gut reported that yoga might help decrease self-perceptions of pain and anxiety in the test subjects. The authors also observed reduced pain medication usage in the participants(37).
The study was done on 30 patients with chronic pancreatitis who were undergoing difficulties with pain, anxiety, and weight loss. The research duration was 12 weeks.
Research found in the journal Pancreas stated that acupuncture offered pain relief in 15 patients with chronic pancreatitis. However, the authors noted that the analgesic effects of acupuncture were short-term(38).
They made a follow-up one week after the study was conducted. The participants did not report any difference in clinical pain scores.
Compared to yoga, CBD may also have anxiety-reducing effects.
A 2014 study conducted in animal models found that CBD had anxiolytic and antidepressant properties(39).
How to Choose the Right CBD for Pancreatitis
A study showed that formulations combining CBD and THC resulted in significant pain relief(41).
However, the use of medical marijuana or any other medical cannabis product is not legal in all US states(42).
A CBD oil type offers products with legal amounts of THC content. This CBD type is known as full-spectrum CBD.
Full-spectrum CBD oils use all the ingredients of the Cannabis sativa plant, including less than 0.30% THC, terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, and essential oils.
It is believed that these components synergize and derive maximum therapeutic benefits from the plant. This mechanism is called the entourage effect.
However, THC in full-spectrum CBD products may still be detected in some drug tests.
Those who prefer CBD products without THC may buy broad-spectrum CBD. This CBD type has the same content as full-spectrum CBD except for THC.
Individuals who want pure cannabidiol may purchase CBD isolates.
For pancreatitis relief, full-spectrum CBD oils and products are recommended.
However, individuals are encouraged to consult with a medical professional before taking any CBD product.
CBD Dosage for Pancreatitis
When using CBD for pancreatitis, individuals should begin with a low dosage and gradually increase dosing until desired effects are achieved.
However, individuals cannot merely increase the dosage, even for severe cases of pancreatitis.
Although no study has looked at dosing for CBD in pancreatitis, a study showed that CBD’s efficacy might be dose-dependent. Fifty-seven test subjects received different doses of CBD (150mg, 300mg, and 600mg) before undergoing a simulated public speaking test(43).
The participants who received 300mg of CBD reported significantly reduced anxiety before their speech test.
Those who were given 150mg and 600mg of CBD did not report any positive changes in their anxiety.
The researchers concluded that CBD’s efficacy follows a bell-shaped dose-response curve. Too little or excessive CBD doses might not be effective.
Individuals should determine the CBD dosage that is optimal for them. Before using CBD, chronic or acute pancreatitis patients should first consult with their healthcare provider.
How to Take CBD for Pancreatitis
CBD may be taken orally. CBD oils or tinctures (drops) may be ingested directly or applied sublingually (under the tongue) for added efficacy.
CBD oils may also be mixed with food or beverages to mask the grassy taste of the substance.
Other formats, such as edibles, capsules, and pills, offer convenient and consistent dosing of CBD.
CBD topicals, such as salves, balms, and lotions, may be applied on the abdomen to ease abdominal pain.
For instant effects, CBD may be inhaled via vape pens. However, vaping is known to cause lung problems in some individuals(44).
Pancreatitis is a condition characterized by inflammation in the pancreas. It may be acute or chronic(45).
Acute pancreatitis appears suddenly, lasts for days, and goes away. Meanwhile, chronic pancreatitis happens for many years. However, severe forms of the disease can lead to life threatening illness.
Acute pancreatitis symptoms include:
- Upper abdominal pain
- Pain in the abdomen that eventually affects the back
- Abdominal pain that worsens after eating
- Rapid pulse
- Tenderness when the abdomen is touched
Chronic pancreatitis symptoms include:
- Upper abdominal pain
- Effortless weight loss
- Oily and smelly stool (steatorrhea)
According to findings from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, causes of acute pancreatitis include gallstones(46).
Gallstones enter the small intestine through the common bile duct. These gallbladder stones build up on the common bile duct, which harms the pancreatic duct(47).
The stones then obstruct the flow of pancreatic fluid, resulting in pancreatic injury. Gallstones may also cause a backflow of bile into the pancreatic duct, which also injures the pancreas.
A procedure used to treat gallstones, known as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), may also be a cause of acute pancreatitis(48).
Meanwhile, chronic pancreatitis is caused by heavy alcohol use, cystic fibrosis and other genetic disorders, increased fat or calcium levels in the blood, certain medications, and autoimmune conditions.
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disorder that severely damages the digestive system, lungs, and other body organs(49).
Risk factors of individuals developing pancreatitis include cigarette smoking, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, and a family history of pancreatitis(50).
To manage pancreatitis pain, doctors prescribe a high-protein and low-fat diet(51).
Pancreatitis and Pets
Pancreatitis may also affect pets. In dogs, symptoms of pancreatitis include vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, lethargy, fever, decreased appetite, and diarrhea(52).
Dogs experiencing a pancreatitis attack may take a praying position, with their rear end up. At the same time, their front legs and head are lowered onto the floor.
Pancreatitis in dogs is a serious disease that could lead to acute shock, severe depression, and even death.
Its causes in dogs are unknown. However, in some cases, the condition may be triggered by dogs’ consumption of a fatty meal or corticosteroid administration.
Cats exhibit the same symptoms as dogs with pancreatitis. It occasionally occurs in cats. However, cats with this condition often experience inflammation in the liver and intestines(53).
CBD may be used to help relieve pancreatitis-induced pain in pets.
A 2018 study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science reported that CBD helped increase the comfort and activity of dogs diagnosed with osteoarthritis. The researchers did not observe any harmful effects of CBD in the canines(54).
Pancreatitis is a severe condition that affects humans and animals. Conventional medications for this disease may have detrimental effects in pancreatitis patients.
Studies showed that CBD might be beneficial for pancreatitis and associated symptoms. Research also found that CBD might have properties that could help alleviate pain, inflammation, and nausea, conditions experienced by people who have pancreatitis.
Researchers found that the use of cannabis (THC in particular) with CBD might have properties that could significantly reduce pain. However, cannabis use is not legal in all states of the US.
Full-spectrum CBD contains legal amounts of THC. This CBD type is recommended for users who want to explore the substance’s benefits on their pancreatitis.
CBD may also be used in pets. Animal studies have shown that it does not have dangerous side effects on animals.
Before taking CBD for pancreatitis, it is recommended to seek the medical advice of professionals first as the disease can be dangerous.
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