Side Effects of CBD

Medically reviewed by Alan Carter, PharmD
Written by Monica Beyer

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in cannabis. It exists in marijuana and hemp. Cannabinoids like CBD work by empowering your endocannabinoid system to regulate physiological and cognitive functions like appetite, anxiety, mood, pain-sensation, and inflammation.

There is evidence that suggests the introduction of cannabinoids into your body may help treat conditions such as:

  • Chronic pain
  • Nausea
  • Migraines
  • Appetite
  • Seizures
  • Psoriasis
  • Inflammation

Medical marijuana may help some of these conditions. But people are turning to hemp-derived cannabidiol, CBD oil, because it’s more widely available and easy-to-use. Of all the potential therapeutic and lifestyle uses for hemp and CBD, the one’s we hear the most about are:

  • Anxiety – CBD may help people reduce anxiety. This could include social anxiety, generalized anxiety, or panic attacks. Here’s a medically-reviewed article about CBD and anxiety.
  • Pain – CBD may help reduce inflammation, and therefore treat pain. While research is limited, anecdotal evidence supports CBD as a natural back pain remedy, chronic pain treatment, and general pain reliever. Here’s a medically-reviewed article about CBD and pain.
  • Sleep – CBD may help people get to sleep more quickly or stay asleep longer. The sleep benefits of CBD can be indirect, as an oil or edible may calm the mind, or direct, as the substance makes the user drowsy. Here’s a helpful article about CBD and sleep.

If you’re interested in treaty a condition with CBD, you should talk to your doctor about the effectiveness of cbd oil. Especially seek medical advice if you are treating serious medical conditions like forms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, or using other anti-inflammatory medications. In the United States, there are clinical trials on-going, but currently there is only one FDA-approved CBD medicine. The Food and Drug Administration has yet to weigh in on many aspects related to the cannabis plant as a whole.

So what are the side effects of CBD?

Studies have explored CBD and its potential for side effects, but study authors admit that there needs to be more human studies on this topic, especially to determine long-term safety and possible interactions with other medications.

However, studies do show that even chronic use and high doses are generally well tolerated by people. Researchers have also conducted animal testing, but there are important differences between humans and animals, of course, that can make pinpointing potential side effects not quite as accurate as they’d like.

While there haven’t been reports of serious side effects from using CBD, experts do note that some can arise from its use. Here are a few potential side effects that you should always be on the lookout for if you’re using CBD.

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in weight
  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure

Not everyone experiences every possible side effect every time—not by a long shot. Also, CBD doesn’t seem to have side effects of serious magnitude. It does not negatively affect blood pressure, heart rate, or body temperature.

Do note that experts warn that pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid CBD. This recommendation isn’t uncommon, because researchers avoid testing substances and medications on pregnant and nursing women, and there isn’t enough information for doctors and other professionals to go on regarding CBD and this population.

Also, it should be noted that potential side effects can vary according to different parameters, including some that are beyond our control. Dr. Inna Lukyanovsky, PharmD, functional medicine practitioner, and gut/hormone health expert notes, “Side effects can vary due to the dosing, age, fat consumption, and many other factors that will affect the absorption of CBD.”

Possible drug interactions

If you’re on other medication, it’s important to note that there may be interactions—some negative—between your medication and CBD. This is why it’s crucial to be honest with your physician before starting on a CBD regimen, as you don’t want the CBD to interfere with your other meds, or your meds to interfere with how CBD works in your body.

Of particular concern is hepatic (liver) metabolism. According to Dr. Lukyanovsky, CBD can potentially increase the levels of drugs that undergo hepatic metabolism, so it’s vital to talk to your doctor to ensure that you avoid a potential interaction between your medication and CBD.

Questions to ask your doctor

If you’ve decided to look into CBD products, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor a few things before diving in. Have this list ready so you can be prepared for your next medical visit.

  • What do you know about CBD and its effect on my specific illness or symptoms?
  • Are you aware of any studies about CBD and how it might relate to my condition?
  • What CBD products do you recommend for my ailment?
  • What potential side effects should I watch out for?
  • I’m on XX medication already. Are there any drug interactions I should worry about?

It’s important to note that while CBD shows tons of promise and has very few negative side effects, not everyone reacts the exact same way upon starting treatment. Your doctor is familiar with your personal health history, the medications you’re already taking, and has the professional experience and knowledge to guide you in the healthiest direction. Talk to a professional if you are adding CBD to a wellness plan to treat anxiety, pain, or to help improve your sleep.

It’s vital to talk with your doctor before starting any health supplement, even one that seems as harmless as CBD. As noted above, CBD can interact with certain “regular drugs,” and you don’t want to find out the hard way this has happened to you.

Ensure your CBD is actually CBD

Unfortunately, it is possible to purchase “CBD oil” that isn’t actually CBD. The Utah Poison Control Center, for example, reported emergency room visits from patients who took “CBD” but experienced severe side effects that are not known to be associated with CBD use. These side effects were serious and concerning, and included altered mental status, seizures, confusion, hallucinations, and loss of consciousness. Upon further investigation, authorities discovered these products consisted of synthetic CBD and absolutely no actual CBD.

In these cases, there was no indication on the bottle who the manufacturer was of the CBD product, nor was there a list of ingredients. News about people becoming sick from vape products, often blackmarket cartridges, makes it even more important to know the source of your CBD.

At Remedy Review we test products using third-party labs to help protect consumers—both from a health perspective and so you don’t waste money.

[Things to look for when buying CBD.]

Any reputable CBD oil manufacturer will have that information listed on the packaging, and further research on your part is never a bad idea. A solid company that sells legitimate CBD products will provide more information to their customers every time.

Final thoughts

CBD has been found to have medicinal impacts and may be a beacon of hope for those who are looking for alternative therapies.

That said, always speak with your physician if you’re looking into natural remedies, including CBD. You’ll want to discuss any research that pertains to your condition and if drug interactions might be possible. It’s also crucial to list CBD on your home medication list when you visit a new doctor for the same reason—they will want to know everything you’re taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements—so they can prescribe new medication, if needed, with your best interests in mind.

When selecting CBD oil, make sure the manufacturer and ingredients are clearly listed, and choose a company with a reputable background.

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