Wanting to take edibles but worried about the possible side effects? Edible cannabis products can provide some impressive health benefits, but it’s also important to be aware of potential side effects.
Edibles refer to any edible cannabis or cannabis-extract product that can be orally consumed. Edibles have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years thanks to their taste, subtlety, and ease of dosing and consumption. There are many edible products on the market today, meaning that there are options out there for just about everyone. Edible products that you might come across include:
- Chewing gum
- Drinks (e.g., soda, vitamin water)
Edibles can also vary in their cannabis content. Some edibles will contain a broad spectrum of cannabis compounds, while others may only contain THC or CBD, both cannabinoids.
Will I get diarrhea if I eat an edible?
Diarrhea can be a side effect of edible use, although much is dependent on the ingredients in the edible.
CBD has been found to cause stomach issues such as diarrhea and nausea. However, these side effects tend to be mild and are typically seen only when a high dose of CBD is taken. If you’re consuming CBD edibles, it’s best to start with a low dose and work your way up – this will help prevent you from taking too much CBD and possibly experiencing diarrhea.
Research tells us that there doesn’t seem to be a link between THC use and diarrhea (1). In fact, a 2013 survey of cannabis users found that the majority of users reported that cannabis was very helpful for relief from diarrhea (2). While more research is needed into THC in particular, current studies do hint at the potential for THC (a major component of cannabis) to treat diarrhea.
If you’re consuming edibles that only contain THC but still experiencing diarrhea, then you might want to investigate other potential causes.
Edible products can contain a range of food ingredients, and some of these could result in diarrhea if you have a sensitivity or allergy. It’s important to read the ingredients on an edible carefully to see if there’s anything that you might react to. Dairy products, caffeine, spices, alcohol, sugar substitutes, and oily foods are all commonly associated with diarrhea.
Symptoms of diarrhea
Diarrhea can be a different experience for everyone, with mild and severe cases possible. Mild diarrhea should result in only a few symptoms and should take care of itself. Symptoms of mild diarrhea include:
- Watery stool
- Needing to go to the bathroom
- An upset stomach
Severe diarrhea can be a lot more serious. You should contact your doctor if you think you’re experiencing the symptoms of severe diarrhea. These can include:
- Watery stool
- Severe pain
- Weight loss
- Blood in stool
Other possible side effects of edibles
Diarrhea is a possible side effect of edibles, but there are other side effects that you should be aware of.
CBD can also lead to mild cases of (3):
- Reduced appetite
While THC consumption may result in (4):
- Increased heart rate
- Red eyes
- Dry mouth
- Memory loss
- Reduced reaction time
If you experience any of these symptoms and are concerned about your reaction then you should consult your doctor or call 911 in an emergency. For mild cases, it’s best to stop consuming the edible and look at changing the dose and/or cannabinoid content.
Other reasons why you might be experiencing diarrhea
Just because you experience diarrhea after consuming an edible doesn’t mean that the edible is responsible. There are many reasons why someone might get diarrhea, and it’s important to find the source so that you can stop it from happening again. Common reasons for diarrhea include (5):
- Bacterial infection
- Eating food that doesn’t agree with your stomach
- A food allergy or intolerance (e.g., lactose intolerance)
- Radiation therapy
- Food poisoning
- Poor food absorption
What to do if you have diarrhea
If you’ve got diarrhea, then there are a few things you can do to help ease symptoms:
Anti-diarrhea medication can help to quickly stop loose or watery stools, the main symptom of diarrhea. Over-the-counter products such as Immodium are readily available, but there are stronger medications available via a prescription from a doctor.
Pain can be a common symptom of diarrhea, with cramping often causing abdominal pain. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to reduce some of the cramping-related pain. Just be sure not to take too many, as this could further upset your stomach.
Antacids are a great way to stop the heartburn, gas, and discomfort that can occur with diarrhea. Brands like Pepto-Bismol, Mylanta, Alka-Seltzer, and Milk of Magnesia all offer antacid products that could bring you some relief.
Peppermint tea is soothing, delicious, and provides a gentle, natural option to add to your diarrhea treatment regime. Studies have shown that peppermint tea can relax the gut and provide pain-relieving effects (6). Several trials have found that peppermint tea can also be effective in improving the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a condition that commonly results in diarrhea. Peppermint teal also has no reported side effects.
A warm compress
Applying a warm compress or wheat bag to your stomach can help to reduce some of the cramping often experienced with diarrhea. Heat can increase blood flow and help lower pain and accelerate healing.
You can make a warm compress yourself by simply soaking a towel in hot water, wringing out the water, and then applying it to your skin. Just be sure that the towel isn’t too hot.
Removing triggers from your diet
One key action you can take to reduce diarrhea is to root out the original cause. If you think that your edibles are triggering diarrhea, then stop consuming them until you can rule them out as a culprit. You’ll also want to remove other common diarrhea triggers, such as alcohol, caffeine, and dairy, from your diet.
It is possible for edibles to cause diarrhea, but it isn’t especially common. If you do experience diarrhea as a result of edibles, it’s likely due to high doses of CBD, so reducing your dose level should help you see an improvement. It’s important to look out for other foods in your diet that could be the cause of your diarrhea. Medication, peppermint tea, and removing triggers are all useful ways to get diarrhea under control.