CBD is a natural compound found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. It’s been found to provide a variety of benefits, ranging from reduced anxiety and seizures to nausea and pain relief. Best of all, CBD contains 0.3% THC or less, so it does not produce any psychoactive effects or feelings of being “stoned” in the individuals who take it.
Thanks to its non-psychoactive properties and wealth of health benefits, CBD is becoming an increasingly popular alternative for people who want natural therapies for the conditions that ail them.
The research on CBD is very promising, and people around the world are touting it as a safe solution, almost a miracle drug. But are there downsides to taking CBD? Specifically, are there any negative side effects?
Generally, the research indicates that the side effects of CBD are minimal and rare. Of course, one caveat to all this is that a majority of CBD research has been done on animals, not humans, and we do have different physiologies. Even so, thus far the research indicates that CBD tends to be well-tolerated by people, even with chronic use or doses as high as1,500 mg/day.
However, if you plan on taking CBD, you should be aware of the potential side effects and risk factors. We review these below.
What are the side effects of CBD?
While experiencing side effects is rare, the side effects of CBD that have been most commonly reported include:
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
Whether or not you experience side effects can depend on the amount of CBD you ingest, your age, your weight, any health conditions you may have, any medication you may be taking, and environmental factors.
It’s important to note that these side effects are rare and that if you experience them once, you won’t necessarily experience them every time you take CBD. More importantly, CBD does not appear to cause serious negative side effects, such as an impact on your blood pressure, body temperature, or heart rate. This is one big reason that CBD is gaining favor with scientific researchers and health professionals.
Who should avoid CBD?
CBD generally appears safe. However, doctors do warn against certain groups of people using the drug. Currently, this list of potentially at-risk individuals includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, individuals who are taking other medications, and children.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women
Pregnant and breastfeeding women are used to seeing safety warnings in products. Researchers tend to avoid using pregnant and breastfeeding women in clinical research, in order to avoid adverse outcomes that could harm the mother or their baby. To date, enough CBD research hasn’t been done to allow medical professionals to provide recommendations regarding CBD use among this demographic.
People who are taking other medication
Often, when side effects have been reported with CBD, it’s been among individuals who are taking other medication. The side effects are typically due to the interaction between CBD and the other drugs, as opposed to being caused by the CBD itself. For example, CBD has been shown to increase the hepatic concentration of some drugs, which could lead to liver damage.
If you are taking other medication, be sure to speak to your doctor first before taking CBD. They can better advise you as to the safety of mixing CBD with your medication and provide recommendations on proper dosage or types of CBD products you should use.
While medical CBD and Epidiolex are approved to treat severe forms of pediatric epilepsy in many states, the safety of CBD in children not been widely tested. Always speak with your pediatrician before starting a CBD regimen with your child.
Avoid side effects with this CBD safety checklist
For most people, CBD presents little to no side effects. However, there are still precautions you should take to ensure the CBD product you are taking is safe. When selecting a CBD product, keep the following safety tips in mind.
- Review the ingredients of your CBD product.
Because CBD is not currently regulated by the FDA, some manufacturers have taken liberties with their product composition and labeling. Review the ingredients carefully to ensure you’re okay with consuming them.
In particular, pay attention to the CBD percentage. A 2017 study of 84 CBD products sold online found that only 30% were accurately labeled when it came to the concentration of CBD. More problematically, THC was detected in over 20% of the products. THC does have a wider range of side effects, including intoxication and anxiety, so this can be of concern for individuals who want to avoid those side effects or who live in states where marijuana is illegal recreationally.
- Opt for CBD oil.
In the study cited above, CBD oils were most likely to be accurately labeled. CBD vape liquids were more likely to have inaccurate labels. So, you may want to opt for CBD oil products exclusively, or simply do more research when purchasing another type of product.
- Avoid synthetic CBD.
Look for pure, plant-based CBD products. Synthetic CBD can be more likely to include dangerous ingredients. The CDC recently reported on a case of five Utah patients who experienced severe side effects from synthetic CBD, like seizures, hallucinations, and loss of consciousness.
- Look for CBD products sourced from hemp.
CBD can be sourced from hemp or marijuana. Products sourced from hemp will contain 0.2% THC or less, while marijuana-sourced CBD can contain more, up to 40%, and it can be illegal depending on where you live.
- Check manufacturer reviews online.
Unhappy customers are likely to voice their opinions and experience with negative side effects. Choose manufacturers with better online reviews, who have clear and transparent ingredient and sourcing information on their website.
- Talk to your doctor.
If you are taking any other medication, speak to your doctor before starting CBD. Ask them about any side effects you may experience, and if there are any studies they can recommend you read that are specific to your condition and how it works with CBD.
- Start with the lowest dose.
The general rule of thumb is to choose a CBD dose based on your weight (1 to 6 mg per 10 pounds of body weight). Start with the lowest dose and gradually increase until you feel the intended benefit.
At that point, stop increasing the dose. Individuals do not develop a tolerance to CBD, so you shouldn’t need to change it unless something else significantly changes (like your weight or another health condition).