CBD Oil Side Effects and Risks: Is CBD Right for You?

By Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD
Crystalweed Cannabis, Unsplash

If you’re looking for a natural alternative to pain or anxiety relief, then CBD oil is likely to have peaked your interest within the last few years. But as with any new supplement that you consider adding to your health and wellness routine, you may wonder if this latest trend lives up to the hype. Here we’ll discuss the therapeutic potential of CBD, as well as any potential CBD oil side effects that you should take into account before giving hemp oil a try.

Some background on CBD

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound derived from cannabis plants that is well-known for its wide array of potential health benefits. CBD is different from THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the active ingredient in marijuana that’s most notably recognized for creating a “high” effect in cannabis users. CBD does not cause any psychotropic effects like THC does, and hemp-derived CBD products legally contain no more than 0.3 percent THC.

However, not all CBD products are the same, as there are various types of CBD extracts on the market. Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate are the three different forms of hemp extract, each with its own unique properties. Full spectrum CBD oil contains all the natural compounds of the plant including CBD, trace cannabinoids (such as CBG, CBN, and THC), terpenes, and essential oils. Each of the compounds from this type of extract may enhance the benefits of the other through a process known as the “entourage effect,” and for this reason, we always opt for a full-spectrum product when we have the option.

On the other hand, broad spectrum CBD extracts contain several of the same components found in full spectrum extracts without any trace of THC. And finally, CBD isolate is typically constructed of 99 percent pure CBD and includes no other cannabis plant compounds.

Now that you know a bit about CBD, let’s learn about how this natural compound may benefit your health.

The benefits of CBD

The potential health benefits of CBD are no secret to the common consumer, but most of the evidence supporting these notions is anecdotal, or only in the beginning stages of research. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only one CBD drug for the use of the treatment of epilepsy, known as the medication Epidiolex, but the organization has not yet evaluated other CBD products or their potential wellness advantages (2).

Although in addition to its beneficial effects on epilepsy and seizures, recent CBD research studies suggest that CBD may also help those with anxiety, sleep, and pain issues.

In fact, pain relief is the number one reason people use CBD, and given the number of people who currently use CBD to alleviate pain, or are interested in using CBD for this reason, there are varying studies that support this notion.

A recent review shows that CBD holds anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce pain in those with medical conditions such as arthritis, and notes that the endocannabinoid system plays an active role in the physiology of joint pain. However, the wellness world needs more research and clinical trials on CBD-only products to confirm if the use of CBD provides any potential pain relief benefits to those with acute or chronic pain.

Another one of the most common reasons people take CBD is for anxiety, and study reviews back-up the theory that CBD might help reduce anxiety symptoms in various mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Furthermore, as CBD may help calm the mind from anxiety, it may also provide a better night’s rest. A 2019 study review highlights that CBD has beneficial effects on improving quality and quantity of sleep. Although the studies reviewed were small in sample size, they show great promise of the improvements that CBD for sleep can offer.

Some other, less established advantages of CBD oil include:

Taking all these potential benefits in account, your next question may be considering whether or not CBD is safe. For the most part, CBD is generally safe in that there are few adverse effects and the compound is not associated with abuse potential, unlike marijuana which has addictive qualities. However, there are reported instances of mild side effects that may arise during CBD oil use that you should be aware of.

Possible CBD oil side effects

CBD is relatively safe and some individuals may be able to tolerate it in high doses up to 1500 milligrams daily (8). However, the side effects of CBD can include nausea, fatigue, and irritability, but other possible adverse reactions do exist, such as:

  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite
  • Tiredness

Additional negative reactions may be possible if CBD interacts with certain prescription drugs, which can potentially lead to liver damage if taken at high doses. This is one of the many reasons you should take a low dose of CBD oil when you’re first starting out, and consult with your doctor beforehand if you take a medication and are concerned about a possible interaction.

How to avoid the side effects of CBD oil

Any side effects you may experience with CBD products are rare and often short-lived. But if you want reap the benefits of CBD oil with the least amount of risk, there are ways to reduce your potential for side effects, such as:

Taking the proper dosage: If you’re taking CBD oil for the first time, then you’ll want to start with a very low dose (around 10 to 20 milligrams). Then, over time, slowly increase your dosage as tolerated and as needed for effectiveness as it relates to any symptoms you’re trying to relieve. Avoid higher doses that could increase your risk of unwanted side effects.

The CBD dosage you take will depend on many factors like why you’re taking it, your metabolism, body weight, and your body’s chemistry with cannabis. For instance, the more you weigh or the more severe the symptoms are that you want to alleviate, you’ll likely need a slightly higher dose.

Finding a delivery method that works for you

Experts suggest that you choose a delivery method of CBD oil that is thought to work best for the symptoms you’re trying to relieve. For example, for a fast-acting product, a drop of CBD oil under the tongue may be best, but if you want a more gradual response, then CBD gummies or ingestible capsules may be a better option. And for joint pain or muscle soreness, a CBD cream is one of the best ways to alleviate pain at the source.

Purchasing CBD oil from a reputable brand

It’s important to note one fatal flaw within the CBD market, which comes from fake CBD products that may contain harsh additives or toxic chemicals. These kinds of products are made cheaply and put on the market to try and make a quick buck. Needless to say, they aren’t trustworthy. When shopping for a tincture, it’s best to purchase from a reputable brand with a good track record to ensure you are getting the best CBD oil possible.

Reading the label to avoid any additives you may be intolerant to

Some CBD oil products may contain added ingredients like flavor additives, thinning agents, essential oils, or compounds like melatonin for sleep support. These types of additions are harmless to the general consumer, but if you have any particular allergies or intolerances for an ingredient, it’s best to make sure that it’s not included on the product label.

What to look for in a quality CBD oil

If you’re not sure what to look for when buying a CBD oil product, then use the tips below to make the best choice.

  • Type of hemp extract: As mentioned before, choose a CBD product with an extract that suits you. If you experience chronic pain, a full-spectrum CBD oil is a good choice considering the various other plant compounds that work together with CBD to create enhanced beneficial effects. Although if you are concerned about drug testing, a THC-free CBD isolate or broad-spectrum product may be better suited to you.
  • Strength of the product: There’s a lot of variants within the CBD market when it comes to the potency of a product. Always read the label to determine how much CBD is in a single serving, and decide whether or not it is too strong (or perhaps not strong enough) for your needs.
  • Testing history: We cannot stress this enough, but third-party lab testing is a highly important factor among CBD products. These test results determine the CBD strength of a product, as well as its safety (meaning it’s also been reviewed for other cannabinoids, like THC, and is free of harmful chemicals). These are all pieces of information that you need to be aware of before buying any CBD product, so you’ll know exactly what you are putting into your body if you do purchase the product.

In addition to these factors, it can help to think back on any personal experiences you’ve had with other cannabis extracts or CBD products in the past. These experiences can provide an inside look as to how cannabis plant compounds impact you, and may provide some insight as to what side effects (or lack thereof) you may experience with CBD oil.

The bottom line is to do your research before buying any CBD oil product. And this means not only making sure the product is high-quality, but ensuring the CBD oil itself is the right choice for you and your current health status. Don’t hesitate to ask experts for help along the way during your CBD journey to make sure you stay safe and healthy.

By continuing to browse or by clicking “OK” you agree to the storing of first- and third-party cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. Privacy Policy.