Can CBD oil help with stomach ulcers, and if so, how?

Stomach ulcers, also known as gastric ulcers, are a type of peptic ulcer disease. ‘Peptic’ ulcer is the umbrella term for any ulcer affecting the stomach and the small intestines.

The stomach usually produces acid to help with the digestion of food and protect against bacteria and other microbes.

Meanwhile, cells on the inside lining of the stomach and first portion of the small intestine (duodenum) produce a natural mucus barrier to protect the tissues of the body from this acid. 

There is usually a balance between the amount of acid that the body makes and the mucus defence barrier – as well as the amount of base produced by the pancreas.

Ulcers may develop if there is an alteration in this balance, allowing the acid to damage the lining of the stomach or duodenum.

Stomach ulcers are characterized by open sores in the lining of the stomach. While small ulcers may not cause noticeable symptoms, larger ones can cause pain and discomfort (1)

Ulcer symptoms are often worse on an empty stomach and at night. Ulcer symptoms include:

  • Discomfort or burning pain in the upper abdomen
  • Feeling bloated
  • Burping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Weight loss and lack of appetite
  • Dark black stools

CBD for Stomach Ulcers: What The Research Says 

There is evidence that cannabinoids like CBD and THC have a positive physiological impact on stomach pathology, including ulcers. 

According to research, there is evidence that CB1 receptor stimulation with cannabinoids inhibits gastric acid secretion in humans and experimental animals (2).

Studies have shown that CBD can decrease gastric acid and increase blood flow to the lining of the stomach.

Researchers of a 2016 study published in Current Neuropharmacology found that direct activation of CB1 receptors by cannabinoids effectively reduces both gastric acid secretion and gastric motor activity and decreases the formation of lesions on the stomach lining (3).

A study examined how cannabinoids impact the gastrointestinal tract of some species, like the mouse, rat, guinea pig, and humans (4).

In another study published in Pharmacology Journal, researchers found that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) inhibited ulcer formation in animal models (5). 

Although the studies did not focus on the cannabinoid CBD, the results are still encouraging. The authors believe the endocannabinoid system represents a promising target in the treatment of gastric mucosal lesions, ulceration and inflammation.

CBD  for Pain Relief

Prescription medication is not the only reliable scientific solution to treating conditions, such as stomach ulcers. 

Chemical-based painkillers have even been known to cause stomach ulcers in the first place.

According to the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom, taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, can cause stomach or duodenal ulcers, particularly if these pharmaceuticals are taken for an extended period or at high doses (6). 

Meanwhile, CBD may also help provide effective pain relief from the invasion of stomach ulcers. 

Studies have shown that CBD may have promise in helping provide pain relief. CBD may be useful in treating different types of chronic pain (7). 

Chronic pain, particularly neuropathic pain, is a problem that is difficult to treat, according to the author of a study on neuronal mechanisms for neuropathic pain (8).

CBD for Nausea

Nausea is a feeling or urge to vomit. It can develop for several reasons, including medications, chemotherapy, food poisoning, morning sickness, general anesthesia, and migraines (9).

Nausea and vomiting both play an essential, defensive role by rejecting the ingestion or digestion of potentially harmful substances.

Cannabis has long been known to prevent or regulate nausea and vomiting from a variety of causes (10).

The studies demonstrated that primary cannabinoids, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), have both been useful at regulating vomiting and nausea because they interact with cannabinoid receptor 1 (CBB1) of the endocannabinoid system. 

Activating the CB1 receptor suppresses vomiting, as noted in the review published in the journal Psychopharmacology (11). 

Studies have shown that CBD’s effectiveness at producing anti-nausea effects may also be in part of its indirect activation of the 5-HT-1A autoreceptors in the “vomiting center” or “chemoreceptor trigger zone” of the brain stem (12).

Activation of 5-HT1A heteroreceptors in these areas releases serotonin  (13). 

Serotonin is found mostly in the digestive system, although it is also in blood platelets and throughout the central nervous system.

Serotonin is sometimes called “the happy chemical” because it contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.

Conclusion

CBD’s purported therapeutic benefits may help with symptoms of stomach ulcers. However, more research is needed to validate the results of the studies.

WHO states that CBD “is generally well-tolerated with a good safety profile.” (14) Still, the long-term effects of CBD remain unknown, and the compound may also interact with other pharmaceuticals.

Thus, individuals looking to try CBD for the first time, or intend to use CBD as an adjunct therapy, should first consult with a doctor experienced in cannabis use for advice.


  1. WakeMed. Stomach Ulcers. Retrieved from https://www.wakemed.org/stomach-ulcers.
  2. Abdel-Salam O. Gastric acid inhibitory and gastric protective effects of Cannabis and cannabinoids. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2016;9(5):413–419. DOIi:10.1016/j.apjtm.2016.04.021.
  3. Gyires K, Zádori ZS. Role of Cannabinoids in Gastrointestinal Mucosal Defense and Inflammation. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2016;14(8):935–951. DOI:10.2174/1570159×14666160303110150.
  4. Pertwee RG. Cannabinoids and the gastrointestinal tract. Gut. 2001;48(6):859–867. DOI:10.1136/gut.48.6.859.
  5. Sofia RD, Diamantis W, Harrison JE, Melton J. Evaluation of antiulcer activity of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol in the Shay rat test. Pharmacology. 1978;17(3):173–177. DOI:10.1159/000136851.
  6. NHS Inform. (2020, Feb 14). Stomach Ulcer. Retrieved from https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/stomach-liver-and-gastrointestinal-tract/stomach-ulcer.
  7. Grinspoon, P. (2019, Aug 27). Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476.
  8. Zhuo M. Neuronal mechanism for neuropathic pain. Mol Pain. 2007;3:14. Published 2007 Jun 6. DOI:10.1186/1744-8069-3-14.
  9. ECHO. (2017, Feb 17). Nausea: Cannabinoids and CBD Research Overview. Retrieved from https://echoconnection.org/nausea-medical-cannabis-and-cbd-research-overview/.
  10. Parker, L.A., Rock, E.M., Sticht, M.A., Wills, K.L., and Limebeer, C.L. (2015). Cannabinoids suppress acute and anticipatory nausea in preclinical rat models of conditioned gaping. Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 97(6), 559-61;  Sharkey, K.A., Darmani, N.A., and Parker, L.A. (2014). Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. European Journal of Pharmacology, 722, 134-4.
  11. Parker, L.A., Mechoulam, R., Schlievert, C., Abbott, L., Fudge, M.L., and Burton, P. (2003, March). Effects of cannabinoids on lithium-induced conditioned rejection reactions in a rat model of nausea. Psychopharmacology, 166(2), 156-62.
  12. Rock EM, Bolognini D, Limebeer CL, et al. Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic component of cannabis, attenuates vomiting and nausea-like behaviour via indirect agonism of 5-HT(1A) somatodendritic autoreceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus. Br J Pharmacol. 2012;165(8):2620–2634. DOI:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01621.x.  
  13. Garcia-Garcia AL, Newman-Tancredi A, Leonardo ED. 5-HT(1A) [corrected] receptors in mood and anxiety: recent insights into autoreceptor versus heteroreceptor function [published correction appears in Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014 Feb;231(4):637]. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014;231(4):623–636. doi:10.1007/s00213-013-3389-x.
  14. WHO. Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. (2017, Nov 6-10). Cannabidiol (CBD). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf.  
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