CBD for Stomach Flu in 2021: Can Cannabidiol Help with Your Stomach Bug?

Woman laying down with hands framing flower in belly button

Much has been said about CBD’s apparent ability to reduce pain, stop inflammation, or even treat cancer. CBD for stomach flu is an application you see thrown around less often, but recently, CBD has been trending as a promising potential treatment for the symptoms of this uncomfortable illness. Learn more about CBD for stomach bugs and how this cannabinoid might be the natural flu cure you’ve been looking for.

What Causes Stomach Flu?

The technical term for stomach flu is viral gastroenteritis, and a variety of different viruses can cause this condition. Stomach flu can also be caused by bacteria, but most commonly, the source of this condition is food or water that’s been contaminated with a dangerous virus.

It’s possible to contract certain types of stomach flu by touching surfaces or breathing the air with which a sick person has been in contact with. The symptoms of stomach flu are highly similar to those of food poisoning, but “food poisoning” is a wider umbrella term that refers to any condition caused by eating food contaminated with viruses, bacteria, or parasites.

Your susceptibility to stomach flu depends on the health of your immune system. When your body can’t properly process out viruses or bacteria you eat, stomach flu ensues, and this condition often persists for two or three days.

Stomach flu gets its name from the influenza virus, but this virus doesn’t actually cause stomach flu. The term “stomach flu” has simply been used to refer to viral gastroenteritis for so long that the name has stuck in the public lexicon.

Common Symptoms of Stomach Flu

Stomach flu is incredibly uncomfortable. The symptoms of this illness are so intense, in fact, that they can totally warp your state of mind and make it impossible to concentrate or even sleep. Luckily, the symptoms of stomach flu generally pass within a few days, and most patients note a gradual reduction in symptoms after the first day or so.

When you’re in the midst of a bout of stomach flu, however, it’s common to experience severe symptoms like:

  • Liquid diarrhea
  • Stomach cramping
  • Dizziness
  • Exhaustion
  • Brain fog
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea

In short, viral gastroenteritis can knock you flat, but it doesn’t last for very long. If you were planning to get work done or go to school as usual, however, you might find that your stomach flu has other plans.

Remember that stomach flu can be contagious, so do your best to avoid contact with others while you’re sick. If you do get anyone else sick, however, you can make up for it by sharing the benefits of CBD for stomach flu.

Syringe and cannabis bud sitting on top of hemp leaves
Can CBD-rich hemp oil help you get over stomach flu symptoms faster?

Is CBD Oil Good for Stomach Flu?

Can you use CBD oil for stomach flu? Certainly. In fact, CBD might offer more relief from the symptoms of your stomach bug than other common treatments, and this natural cannabinoid appears to only have mild side effects1, which is more than you can say about most stomach flu drugs.

One of the most obvious benefits of CBD for stomach flu is that you can administer this cannabinoid in so many different ways. If the idea of putting CBD-rich hemp oil under your tongue while you’re sick makes you feel like you’re going to gag, you can always vape CBD or apply it topically instead.

A significant body of scientific research has been conducted to determine the benefits of CBD, and some of this research might indicate that CBD is beneficial for stomach flu. Here’s a breakdown of the reported benefits of CBD in relation to each of the major symptoms of stomach flu:

CBD and Immune Health

The reason you got the stomach flu in the first place was that a bug got past your immune defenses. To protect yourself against stomach bugs and other types of illness, it’s a good idea to get your immune system in ship-shape, and CBD might be able to help.

First, it’s important to point out that one of CBD’s most important effects appears to be its reported ability to reduce oxidative stress. One study found that CBD is more powerful as an antioxidant than either vitamin C or vitamin E2, which means this cannabinoid appears to be one of the most powerful natural antioxidants discovered to date.

Why does this matter? Because oxidative stress harms your immune system3. When the relationship between free radicals and antioxidants in your body goes out of balance, you become more susceptible to illness. 

Overall, CBD appears to help balance your immune system. As researchers at the prestigious non-profit organization Project CBD have pointed out, CBD appears to act as an immunosuppressant in some instances and an immune-booster in others4.

It seems that CBD simply helps your immune system take appropriate action under all circumstances, and it acts neither as a strict immune-suppressing or immune-boosting compound. Whether you currently have a stomach bug or you’re trying to get over your stomach flu symptoms as fast as possible, CBD may be able to serve as a powerful ally to your immune system as it gets you back in working order. 

CBD for Nausea

Nausea can be caused by a variety of different nervous system triggers. For instance, the vomition centers within the medulla oblongata are some of the most common mechanisms for the activation of nausea symptoms, but the vagus nerves throughout the gastrointestinal tract can also cause nausea.

These digestive system nerves are covered with 5-HT3 serotonin receptors, which are blocked by common anti-nausea drugs like ondansetron. In turn, the 5-HT1A receptors, also known as the serotonin 1A receptors, mediate the activity of all the other 5-HT receptors and soothe them when they’re overactive.

What does all this have to do with CBD? Well, CBD appears to act as an agonist at the 5-HT1A receptors5, which means that it seems to activate these crucial components of the body’s serotonin system. CBD’s apparent activation of the 5-HT1A receptors seems to cause a wide variety of different benefits, but people suffering from stomach flu will be most pleased to learn that this non-intoxicating cannabinoid’s interaction with the serotonin system appears to reduce nausea at its source.

For years, cannabis has been a prime target for anti-nausea treatments. A 2002 study showed that rats that were administered a nausea-inducing drug showed decreased symptoms when they were treated with CBD6, and a 2013 study followed up by showing that CBD appears to reduce the vomition reflex in shrews7. CBD isn’t the only cannabinoid that shows promise as an anti-nausea drug; research has found that CBDA, CBG, and THC all seem to reduce nausea and prevent vomiting.

Of particular interest are the potential benefits of CBD for CINV, which stans for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Chemotherapy is a necessary part of contemporary cancer treatment, but nausea is one of the most commonly reported side effects of chemotherapy. Since CBD appears to reduce nausea by interacting with the serotonergic system, this cannabinoid may be a powerful treatment for helping chemotherapy patients overcome their intense nausea.

CBD and Digestive Health

When you have a stomach bug, it’s natural to experience severe cramping and other digestive pain that worsens after you have a bowel movement. In some cases, this discomfort is strong enough to double you over in agony, but CBD might be able to help reduce this common stomach flu symptom.

CBD doesn’t appear to have any direct digestive benefits; while hemp oil contains certain minerals and omega fatty acids, CBD is nutritionally neutral. Where CBD appears to shine as a digestive aid and treatment for stomach flu symptoms, however, is in its reported anti-inflammatory benefits.

When you experience pain as a symptom of the stomach flu, that’s because your digestive tract is inflamed. Inflammation is a natural immune response that’s designed to destroy foreign bodies and help you heal. In the case of stomach flu, however, this inflammation can become highly painful and threaten to drown out every other sensation.

As we mentioned earlier, CBD appears to have profound antioxidant benefits, and that means it also seems to reduce inflammation. Oxidative stress and inflammation go hand in hand; inflammation increases oxidative stress, and conversely, reducing oxidative stress reduces inflammation. If CBD reduces oxidative stress, therefore, it could also theoretically reduce the gastrointestinal pain associated with stomach flu.

The more that the immune reaction to your stomach bug is controlled, the less intense your gastrointestinal inflammation will be, and the faster your body will get over your stomach flu symptoms. Via a variety of mechanisms of action, using CBD for stomach pain might be a great tool for getting through your stomach flu symptoms with more grace.

CBD for Diarrhea

Catching a stomach bug has an ugly way of sending you to the bathroom more than you’d care to admit. Not only is getting up to use the toilet every 15 minutes annoying, but it can also be highly painful, and you’d be glad to enjoy any type of relief that you can get.

While there’s no evidence that CBD can stop diarrhea altogether, there is plenty of reason to suspect that this cannabinoid might be able to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with this common stomach flu symptom. By reducing inflammation in your gut, CBD may even increase the solidity of your bowel movements.

You might find that ingesting CBD orally is the most effective way to use CBD for stomach flu symptoms. As the oral CBD you ingest moves through your digestive tract, it will deliver its benefits in your stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. At every stage, this non-intoxicating cannabinoid might reduce inflammation, decrease the liquidity of your bowel movements, and soothe your aching digestive tract to speed up the recovery process.

Woman silhouetted in front of sunset with ocean in the background
Can CBD give you freedom from stomach flu problems?

Other Benefits of CBD

So far, we’ve only covered the ways that CBD appears to directly impact the symptoms of stomach flu. At the same time, however, other beneficial effects of CBD may indirectly improve your mental and physical state as you struggle through the symptoms of this highly uncomfortable condition.

For instance, CBD’s agonistic action at the 5-HT1A receptors appears to help with depression and anxiety8. If you’re like most people who suffer through stomach flu symptoms, you’ll experience a significant downturn in your mood once stomach cramping and diarrhea set in, and CBD might be able to help you see the bright side of things between trips to the toilet.

Plus, what you often need most when you have the stomach flu is some good sleep. A 2019 clinical study showed that CBD appears to help induce sleep by reducing anxiety9, and a variety of other studies have shown that CBD alters sleep in animals. Since 5-HT1A activation appears to stimulate longer REM sleep cycles, taking some CBD before laying down for a nap may even deliver sweet dreams that will take your mind off things.

How to Find the Right CBD Oil for Stomach Flu

When you have the stomach flu, it’s hard to fight the urge just to lay there and groan. Preparing yourself with the right CBD products ahead of time, however, might be just what you need when stomach bug symptoms hit and you’re put out of commission. At CBGenius, we recommend you cover all your bases by having CBD vape juice, oral CBD products, and CBD topicals on hand to help with the symptoms of stomach flu. Here’s why:

Vaping CBD for Stomach Flu

Vaping CBD oil might be a great way to get instant relief from the symptoms of stomach flu. If you simply can’t handle another trip to the bathroom until you’ve had a chance to rest, taking a quick hit of high-potency CBD vapor might be enough to settle your belly for a few minutes. 

Even if you use CBD in other ways as well, hitting your CBD vaporizer throughout the day is a great way to deliver instant results that supplement the long-term effects of other CBD administration methods. Plus, vaping CBD doesn’t involve swallowing anything, so hitting a CBD vape rig might be the perfect way to enjoy the benefits of CBD for stomach flu without triggering nausea.

Oral CBD for Stomach Flu

Administering CBD orally is potentially one of the most effective ways to use CBD for stomach flu. CBD that you ingest orally provides long-term effects, and when you’re suffering from the symptoms of stomach flu, it’s understandable if you simply want to take some medicine and lay down for as long as possible.

Depending on the type of oral CBD you try, you might be able to enjoy instant effects on top of the long-term effects of oral CBD that unfold over the space of 4-6 hours. CBD sublingual tinctures for stomach flu, for instance, are designed to be held under your tongue before you swallow them. These double-whammy CBD products absorb through the mucous layer under your tongue before they gradually absorb through the lining of your digestive tract, which might provide you with instant relief while you wait for the benefits of the CBD you swallowed to come into full effect.

Topical CBD for Stomach Flu

Applying CBD topically probably isn’t the most effective way to use this cannabinoid as a treatment for stomach flu. However, some of the CBD you apply topically absorbs into your bloodstream, and applying CBD to your abdominal region may reduce the local inflammation and muscle cramping that makes having the stomach flu so intolerable. Plus, enjoying the soothing effects and smell of your favorite CBD cream for stomach flu might be the perfect thing to set you in the mood to relax and wait until your bug goes away.

CBD for Stomach Bugs: The Bottom Line

No matter what you do, getting a stomach bug will never be fun. CBD is no magical cure-all; on the contrary, this cannabinoid’s benefits are rooted in science, which means that the effects of CBD are restricted to what can be accomplished in the real world.

With that said, however, CBD appears to be one of the most effective and safest treatments for stomach flu that have ever been discovered. Many over-the-counter stomach bug medications contain nasty ingredients and cause serious side effects, but studies show that CBD is generally well-tolerated in human subjects.

At the same time, this cannabinoid’s reported immune-boosting, nausea-reducing, and digestive benefits could be a godsend when you’re in the throes of a bout of stomach flu. With so many different ways to take CBD for stomach flu, you’re able to work around your nausea, and thousands of consumers report that this cannabinoid has calming benefits that will make everything about being sick seem a little bit better.

At CBGenius, we’re dedicated to getting to the bottom of the science behind CBD, and by understanding how CBD appears to help with stomach flu, we’re one step closer to cataloging the potential benefits of this incredibly useful cannabinoid. The next time you have a stomach bug, rely on CBGenius as your trusted supplier of the best CBD products for stomach flu on the internet!


  1. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies
  2. Cannabidiol as an Emergent Therapeutic Strategy for Lessening the Impact of Inflammation on Oxidative Stress
  3. The immune system is limited by oxidative stress: Dietary selenium promotes optimal antioxidative status and greatest immune defense in pacu Piaractus mesopotamicus.
  5. Agonistic properties of cannabidiol at 5-HT1a receptors.
  6. Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis and its synthetic dimethylheptyl homolog suppress nausea in an experimental model with rats.
  7. Cannabidiolic acid prevents vomiting in Suncus murinus and nausea-induced behaviour in rats by enhancing 5-HT1A receptor activation.
  8. Antidepressant-like effects of cannabidiol in mice: possible involvement of 5-HT1A receptors
  9. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series