Is CBD oil good for you? Bad for you? Something in between? What are the side effects of CBD oil? Cannabidiol (CBD) is an active ingredient in cannabis that is derived from the hemp plant, but it does not cause a high and is not addictive. CBD has been shown to be effective in treating conditions like pain, insomnia, and anxiety.
What Are the Side Effects of CBD Oil?
Is CBD oil good for you? Bad for you? Something in between? What are the side effects of CBD oil?
Cannabidiol, or CBD oil, is an extract from the cannabis plant. It has boomed in the wake of the legalized marijuana movement, now that businesses can grow and sell the substance freely in several states.
Advocates market CBD oil typically as a health supplement, and they do so comprehensively. It has started showing up everywhere from web banners to smoothie shops. While it has few recreational properties, CBD oil’s boom in recent years is through the quasi-medical field. Like turmeric, ginseng and tinctures, CBD oil promises to ease a wide variety of ailments without the invasiveness of pharmaceutical drugs.
The question is… what is it really doing to you?
Does CBD Oil Work?
Cannabidiol is one of the two active ingredients in marijuana, but on its own is not enough to get you high. It can, though, help you feel better under the right circumstances.
While doctors and researchers take CBD oil’s role in medicine seriously, much of its profile has been raised by salesmen who make extravagant promises that no medicine (no less supplement) could hope to fulfill.
Some CBD oil salesmen promise that their product can cure everything from anxiety to cancer. They cram it into every product that can soak up a liquid, including gummies, shampoo, toothpastes and even pills for your cat. In the low-water mark for any “medical” supplement, you can now buy it at many juice bars and coffee shops as an additive that can somehow take your banana-strawberry smoothie to 11.
All of which is a shame, because this associates CBD oil with the bottomless deceit that is the world of medical supplements. Yet the substance has some early promise. As noted on Harvard Medical School’s website, CBD oil has some evidence linking it to treatment for epilepsy, seizures, chronic pain and arthritis.
There isn’t enough evidence to say that the oil definitely does help with these things, nor that simply cramming some in a milkshake will do the slightest bit of good, just that doctors are optimistic about their research. For more information on the medicine of CBD oil, see our article here.
What Are the Side Effects?
That’s how CBD oil might help. But can it hurt? Usually, no. It is generally not habit-forming, and most side effects are minor.
According to a report by the World Health Organization, “CBD appears to have little effect on conditioned place preference or intracranial self-stimulation… [It] exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”
“To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
In other words, there is no evidence at the moment that CBD oil tends to be either physically or psychologically habit forming.
Dangerous Side Effects of CBD Oil
There are some known real risks to CBD oil, however. Be absolutely certain to consult a doctor before using CBD oil if any of the below apply to you.
• It can lower your blood pressure and interact with medication.
Mostly, CBD oil is benign. Its side effects might leave you feeling unwell for a little while, but they will pass. But this is a medication, even if it is marketed carelessly, and that means it can have a powerful effect on your body.
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CBD oil can act as a blood thinner and in doing so it can lower your blood pressure. For someone who has issues with blood pressure this can pose very real risks.
It can also interact with medications through “the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does,” according to an article on the Harvard health blog. While rarely a significant concern, on certain medications these interactions can be harmful or even deadly, according to the FDA. If you have blood pressure issues, are taking prescription drugs or have ever been warned about ingesting fruit juice, citrus or fermented products, consult your doctor before touching CBD oil.
• It can make Parkinson’s disease worse.
Some research indicates that CBD oil can exacerbate the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. This research is ongoing, but patients should avoid the product until more definitive results come out.
Mild Side Effects of CBD Oil
Most of the side effects of CBD oil are moderate. Unless you fall into one of the specific categories above, the odds are that this is a generally benign product with limited negative consequences, according to one research paper. Most of those include:
It can cause nausea and general sickness.
Nausea and gastrointestinal issues are a pretty common side effect of CBD oil. This can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and other symptoms associated with a digestive problem (think how you would feel after eating something that disagreed with you). In part, some people simply don’t digest CBD oil well. This is not uncommon with oils and supplements.
However, this is also often caused by the fact that this is an unregulated supplement. There are no standards for dosage and safe measurement, so it’s quite possible that you could get an amount far in excess of what your body can handle. At this point, your body will simply flush it out. Unpleasantly.
• It can cause drowsiness and light-headedness.
This side effect should come as no surprise. Doctors have long looked at cannabis as a treatment for sleep disorders, and CBD oil is no exception. Putting you to sleep is a feature, not a bug. Just don’t be surprised if your CBD latte doesn’t pack the caffeine punch you expected.
• It can cause loss of appetite and dry mouth.
Ironically, perhaps, for a cannabis product, CBD oil has been linked to loss of appetite in some people. Along with dry mouth, it can simply leave you feeling unpleasant after ingesting. As with most other side effects, this will pass in time.
Is CBD Oil Legal?
Like all things marijuana, the legal status of CBD oil is ambiguous and highly state-dependent. While many states have legalized it for production and sale, this still violates federal law. The Department of Justice has currently decided not to prosecute individuals for possession and sale of marijuana products in states where this is legal, but that’s a discretionary act.
Once again this gets complicated. When extracted from cannabis, CBD oil counts as a marijuana product. However, in some cases growers can produce CBD oil from hemp. The 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act made this form of CBD oil production legal under federal law.
Cannabis-extract CBD oil is typically legal in states that have also legalized recreational marijuana, however its status is usually complicated.
CBD oil in all forms is regulated as a medical supplement, because this is typically how it is advertised. As a result, only five states currently have no significant restrictions on its sale and consumption. Every other state has either restricted it through marijuana laws or limits the sale of CBD oil in some form, whether through food and drink regulation, medical regulation or other forms of restriction.
In short, there’s a different answer for this question for every single state. Make sure to research the laws of your state carefully, and for more information check out our article here.
The Bottom Line
Like most supplements, CBD oil rarely does what it promises. It does have some early medical potential, and doctors may prescribe it for patients at risk of seizure or with inflammatory issues. However, as an over-the-counter oil or when infused into a snack cake it probably won’t do you much good. You may see some benefits in connection with CBD oil’s anti-anxiety or sleep aid properties, but the odds are that any real improvements are largely psychosomatic.
Still, if it works for you there’s probably no harm in it either. Unless you fall into one of the specific categories listed above, CBD oil’s side effects are generally mild and of limited duration. Like with all medical changes, alert your doctor if you begin taking it regularly, but otherwise it will probably do neither harm nor good.
Cannabidiol (CBD): What we know and what we don’t
Cannabidiol (CBD) is often covered in the media, and you may see it touted as an add-in booster to your post-workout smoothie or morning coffee. You can even buy a CBD-infused sports bra. But what exactly is CBD? And why is it so popular?
How is cannabidiol different from marijuana, cannabis and hemp?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, a cousin of marijuana, or manufactured in a laboratory. One of hundreds of components in marijuana, CBD does not cause a “high” by itself. According to a report from the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
Is cannabidiol legal?
CBD is readily obtainable in most parts of the United States, though its exact legal status has been in flux. All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction. In December 2015, the FDA eased the regulatory requirements to allow researchers to conduct CBD trials. In 2018, the Farm Bill made hemp legal in the United States, making it virtually impossible to keep CBD illegal – that would be like making oranges legal, but keeping orange juice illegal.
The Farm Bill removed all hemp-derived products, including CBD, from the Controlled Substances Act, which criminalizes the possession of drugs. In essence, this means that CBD is legal if it comes from hemp, but not if it comes from cannabis (marijuana) – even though it is the exact same molecule. Currently, many people obtain CBD online without a medical marijuana license, which is legal in most states.
The evidence for cannabidiol health benefits
CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues, but the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications. In numerous studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures, and, in some cases, stop them altogether. Epidiolex, which contains CBD, is the first cannabis-derived medicine approved by the FDA for these conditions.
Animal studies, and self-reports or research in humans, suggest CBD may also help with:
Studies and clinical trials are exploring the common report that CBD can reduce anxiety.
- Insomnia. Studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
- Chronic pain. Further human studies are needed to substantiate claims that CBD helps control pain. One animal study from the European Journal of Pain suggests CBD could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis when applied to skin. Other research identifies how CBD may inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain, which are difficult treat.
- Addiction. CBD can help lower cravings for tobacco and heroin under certain conditions, according to some research in humans. Animal models of addiction suggest it may also help lessen cravings for alcohol, cannabis, opiates, and stimulants.
Is CBD safe?
Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the level of blood thinning and other medicines in your blood by competing for the liver enzymes that break down these drugs. Grapefruit has a similar effect with certain medicines.
People taking high doses of CBD may show abnormalities in liver related blood tests. Many non-prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), have this same effect. So, you should let your doctor know if you are regularly using CBD.
A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So, you cannot be sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other unknown elements. We also don’t know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.
How can CBD be taken?
CBD comes in many forms, including oils, extracts, capsules, patches, vapes, and topical preparations for use on skin. If you’re hoping to reduce inflammation and relieve muscle and joint pain, a topical CBD-infused oil, lotion or cream – or even a bath bomb — may be the best option. Alternatively, a CBC patch or a tincture or spray designed to be placed under the tongue allows CBD to directly enter the bloodstream.
Outside of the US, the prescription drug Sativex, which uses CBD as an active ingredient, is approved for muscle spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis and for cancer pain. Within the US, Epidiolex is approved for certain types of epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis.
The bottom line on cannabidiol
Some CBD manufacturers have come under government scrutiny for wild, indefensible claims, such that CBD is a cure-all for cancer or COVID-19, which it is not. We need more research but CBD may prove to be a helpful, relatively non-toxic option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies, we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD currently is typically available as an unregulated supplement, it’s hard to know exactly what you are getting.
If you decide to try CBD, make sure you are getting it from a reputable source. And talk with your doctor to make sure that it won’t affect any other medicines you take.