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October 30, 2021
 min read

What are the common side effects of CBD, and how to prevent them?

side effects cbd
 Anthony Clement
Written by  
Anthony Clement
July 12, 2021

table of Contents

There are lots of potential side effects to CBD. The chemical compound is generally regarded as safe, but it can still irritate your stomach and cause other problems.

Although the hemp plant is regarded as very safe, some CBD users still have questions regarding the side effects of CBD products. Simply put, cannabis plant research is relatively young, and we need to learn much more about species’ mechanisms, as well as interactions with pharmaceutical drugs. 

Whether we’re talking about Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica, every version of the plant will rely on its numerous cannabinoids and terpenes to deliver therapeutic benefits. The plant has more than 100 active ingredients, out of which CBD and THC are the most researched chemical compounds.

The main reason why people are afraid to use CBD supplements is because of their THC content. This is an intoxicating substance famous for its adverse reaction. There is a lot of THC within marijuana, but luckily, there are only trace amounts within hemp CBD oil.

In this article, we will consider how medicinal hemp works, as well as some potential side effects of CBD products.

How do CBD products work?

Keep in mind that almost every cannabinoid carries certain benefits. Depending on the substance that you’re using, you might also experience mild side effects. CBD hemp oil might also cause issues when combined with prescription medication.

According to what we know so far, items such as CBD gummies, topical CBD creams, CBD oil drops can provide various effects. First off, it is worth noting their impact on the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids within these items can interact with CB1 receptors as well as CB2 receptors. By doing so, they are able to stabilize the whole system and restore its previous functionality. The chemical might create a state of homeostasis where various internal functions are at their optimal level.

Among different CBD effects, companies often put emphasis on its sedative properties. The product is really great for relaxing the body and mind, and it is commonly used by people who can't sleep or those who are suffering from an anxiety disorder.

CBD oil products might also provide an anti inflammatory effect. As such, they might assist with chronic pain. Experts also believe that cannabinoid chemicals have anxiolytic and antimicrobial traits.

What are the potential benefits of medical hemp extracts?

There aren't many CBD studies. We have scarce data regarding a substance's properties and potential benefits. Oftentimes, our knowledge is based on user feedback and other limited information.

Anyway, here are some of the effects you might experience after CBD administration:

CBD might help with chronic pain

Most people utilize CBD products as a way of dealing with pain. Oral CBD substances are often described as products that are much safer than prescription medication. This is especially true for CBD topicals as they won’t enter your bloodstream.

People have used medical cannabis throughout history for relieving pain and inflammation. Somewhere along the way, we forgot how potent this substance could be. This is mostly due to the fact that marijuana and hemp were illegal for many decades.

Unfortunately, while the product has some potential for the issue, there aren’t many studies that focus on CBD’s impact on pain. Based on a review from 2018, scientists have gone through 47 different cannabis studies involving more than 4,000 people. During all these tests, subjects were given various cannabinoids as a potential treatment for pain.

While cannabinoids have shown a lot of promise for pain, these items have also caused numerous side effects.

The research has gone beyond hemp extracts, and it involved some trial drugs. One of them was Sativex, an oral product that relies on a combination of CBD and THC to address pain related to multiple sclerosis. The medicine can now be bought in numerous countries, but it is still banned by the FDA.

Among others, there are some indications that pain caused by peripheral neuropathy can be reduced with cannabidiol. Like with most other things related to CBD, we need additional tests to corroborate these claims and build upon the initial findings.

CBD might help with anxiety

The data is somewhat mixed when it comes to the cannabis plant and anxiety. According to what we know so far, CBD could be really good for treating some of its symptoms. The substance is really amazing because it can relax the body and brain. It increases alertness, focus while simultaneously reducing stress levels and putting the mind at ease.

However, the problem occurs when an item has a lot of THC. It is confirmed that a high dose of the chemical can lead to panic and anxiety. So, it won't treat the issue, but instead, it will cause it.

If you wish to address this problem, it is much better to go with CBD isolate (otherwise known as pure CBD). As the name implies, these products only have CBD while omitting all other chemicals.

Keep in mind that CBD oil should only be used to reduce symptoms. It isn't a proper treatment for this ailment, and you shouldn't use it to replace the treatment prescribed by your doctor. Instead, you might only use the substance when you're feeling increased stress levels or elevated mental tension.

CBD might reduce seizures

There have been a few studies that involved CBD and epileptic seizures. After performing numerous tests, the FDA has finally approved a drug called Epidiolex for treatment of the condition.

The medicine can be utilized for 2 severe, rare types of epilepsy. We are referring to Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. The product was mainly used by young children above the age of 2. Based on numerous tests, people who have combined Epidiolex with other types of seizure drugs have experienced much fewer episodes.

While the product can be utilized for these 2 types of epilepsy, we are not certain if it is suitable for more common epileptic conditions.

CBD might provide assistance for depression and PTSD

CBD is not classified as an intoxicating substance. However, it has psychoactive properties. In other words, the substance should change how your brain works and how you feel. It should bring about a feeling of serenity and happiness. As such, it might provide good assistance for various mental issues.

Among others, experts believe that the product can be good for PTSD and depression.

According to one specific study, PTSD subjects have experienced an enormous improvement in symptoms after using the product. Most of them have reported improvements in terms of sleep. They stopped waking up during the night, and their nightmares subsided as well. On top of that, the participants haven't experienced any side effects during the treatment.

We also have a few studies that focus on cannabidiol and depression. The majority of them were performed on animal models, which is why they're unreliable. Nevertheless, the subjects have improved their stress scores. Like with PTSD, we need much more data in order to justify the use of CBD oil for this particular medical condition.

CBD might ease side effects caused by chemotherapy

While some sources claim that the substance can be used for cancer, this is a very ludicrous statement given our current knowledge. The best we can expect in that sense is that CBD might help with chemotherapy side effects such as vomiting and nausea.

This is a very common side effect of the therapy, and most users will get drugs called antiemetics as a prevention measure. The medical hemp plant has numerous substances that can provide a similar impact as antiemetic products. The combination of CBD and THC has shown great potential for both of these issues.

 CBD, in particular, might prevent an increase in serotonin levels. They would otherwise increase within the interoceptive insular cortex of the brain after receiving chemotherapy. By preventing the spike in serotonin, the product is able to prevent these problems.

Besides nausea and vomiting, the substance might also work well for other side effects caused by the treatment. For example, the chemical might provide relief for pain, organ toxicity, as well as loss of appetite. Based on all of this, it would be surprising if we start using CBD in the near future as an antinausea therapy.

CBD might help with substance disorder

When using things such as illicit drugs or alcohol, chemistry within your brain will start to change, and you won’t be able to control your actions. Based on a few studies, cannabidiol might affect brain circuits that are connected to addictive behaviors. The chemical compound will reduce the craving for drugs, alcohol, and other stimulants. Furthermore, it will reduce stress levels, which will be crucial if you’re trying to get off a substance.

All in all, several human and animal studies indicate that CBD might be used to treat psychostimulant and opioid addictions. It could especially be beneficial for tobacco and cannabis dependence. Not only would you be able to reduce cravings, but you might also utilize it to prevent relapsing. The main reason for this is because CBD would reduce anxiety and impulsivity, which are common issues for substance abusers.

The chemical compound might also help with some stronger drugs like heroin. One research shows that CBD is able to decrease psychological problems such as increased salivary cortisol levels and increased heart rate. What’s especially great is that these results are long-lasting; after consuming medical hemp just once, a person would be able to reduce potential replaces for a few weeks.

Common side effects and risks associated with the use of CBD

The data about side effects is very limited, as is our data regarding benefits. Even when we're talking about Epidiolex, an FDA approved drug, we have very limited information as to how it might affect the body.

Here are some of the risks and side effects commonly associated with the use of CBD:

·        The substance might cause liver injury, especially after prolonged use.

·         You might experience a surge in alertness (a benefit that is commonly associated with the use of medical hemp).

·         CBD might work similarly to grapefruit juice by inhibiting the work of the p450 enzyme. This liver enzyme is very important for dissolving substances (more specifically, drugs) within our stomach. So, when CBD inhibits this enzyme, all the substances within your body will have a prolonged half life which increases the odds of experiencing drug-related drawbacks.

·         Cannabidiol has a strong sedative impact leading to numerous potential issues. Besides drowsiness, the product would lead to low blood pressure and dizziness. If combined with a high dose of THC, the product might also increase the odds of experiencing panic and anxiety.

·         It can cause diarrhea, dry mouth, and decreased appetite.

Keep in mind that these issues only pertain to products that reach our bloodstream. Topical CBD products, such as transdermal cannabidiol, might lead to a separate set of issues such as skin allergies and overall irritability.

The good thing about these side effects is that they're usually mild, and they vanish as soon as the product leaves your body. In that sense, it is possible to control them to an extent.

Besides these issues, there are numerous other questions regarding this chemical compound:

·         One of the biggest questions that scientists have regarding CBD is what would happen if you were to use it for a prolonged period of time?

·         Based on what we've seen so far, increased dose increases the odds of drawbacks, and it makes them more severe. But, what is the safe threshold? Is there an optimal dosage that wouldn't cause any side effects?

·         Should we consider the administration method when determining optimal dosage? While we know approximately how many milligrams of CBD you need for specific effects, the administration method changes bioavailability and how our bodies utilize the chemical compound.

·         Epidiolex is a substance that is primarily used by minors. That begs the question, if you were to start using the product at a young age, will that affect brain development?

·         The same question can be asked for breastfeeding women and pregnant women.

·         According to limited animal data, cannabinoids might have a negative impact on male fertility, especially over a prolonged period of time. So, will humans experience the same issue?

Main factors that could lead to side effects

Although a person might encounter several different issues, they are generally rare. There are several main factors that might increase the odds of side effects:

·         Toxic components, pesticides, and other pollutants can be really dangerous and can wreak havoc within your body. Make sure to always buy items made from pure, organic hemp and marijuana.

·         Generally speaking, THC is regarded as the most volatile cannabinoid of them all. The chemical compound might lead to issues such as disorientation, change in motoric functions, intoxication, and in severe cases, prolonged use might lead to mental damage and psychosis. While THC does have certain beneficial properties, it is much safer to use products with lower THC concentrations. Bear in mind that high CBD content might stifle some negative effects caused by THC.

·         Excessive dosage can increase the odds of side effects, which is why experts always recommend that you start with the smallest possible quantity.

·         People who have low blood pressure are more likely to suffer from certain side effects such as drowsiness.

·         Individuals who are sensitive are more likely to experience diarrhea and skin allergy.

CBD mislabeling and false advertising

One of the main issues that are plaguing the hemp industry nowadays comes in the form of false advertising and mislabeling.

CBD brands commonly advertise these items as medical items, dietary supplements, cosmetics, foods, and health substances for animals. The most farfetched claim is that CBD is a drug. If you were to sell standard medical hemp oil, this chemical is mainly perceived as a wellness substance. Except for Epidiolex, none of these products should be advertised as drugs.

Anyway, any type of CBD item would have to be sanctioned by the US FDA if you were to advertise it as a drug. Naturally, given that FDA hasn't approved any medical hemp product for the treatment of medical conditions, advertising a substance in such a manner will get you in trouble with this regulatory body. Not only will you be penalized financially, but the FDA might completely shut down your company.

But, the problem goes way beyond just penalties for the hemp company. Misuse of cannabidiol can seriously jeopardize the health and wellbeing of the users. It would also steer them away from a proper medication that would actually help them treat the ailment in question.

Anyway, if you ever decide to use hemp for the treatment of a particular medical issue, it is crucial to consult a medical professional beforehand. Due to false marketing, new customers are generally unaware of the product's limits. So, they might use it for all sorts of issues. This can cause additional issues if you're already using some other treatment.

Importance of buying from reputable sources

Based on everything that was said in the previous paragraph, you should obviously buy medical hemp from reputable sources.

High quality products made by reputable companies are less likely to cause side effects. This is because top tier brands commonly utilize safe CBD extraction processes that don't leave any toxic material within the bottle.

Nowadays, it is common practice for hemp companies to hire third party labs that would evaluate the content of a product. They will list the concentration of every cannabinoid within CBD oil. However, not even this data is always true so, you would have to double check if the lab in question is reliable and trustworthy enough.

Iffland, K., Grotenhermen, F., (2017), An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies, Cannabis and cannabinoid research, New Rochelle, NY, the United States of America


Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., Hughes, S., (2019), Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series, The Permanente journal, Portland, OR, the United States of America


Perucca, E., (2017), Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Hard Evidence at Last?, Journal of epilepsy research, Seoul, South Korea