It’s no secret that humans have been consuming cannabinoids for millennia. However, widespread prohibition resulted in a massive shift in attitudes towards cannabis, despite its wide-reaching therapeutic potential.
Since the Hemp Farming Act made hemp federally legal in 2018, hemp-derived CBD has been exploding in popularity and people are once again turning to natural, plant-based remedies in favor of pharmaceutical alternatives that often come with more harmful side effects.
In this article, we’re going to look at up-to-date research into the safety of CBD.
Quick safety notes
3 Key Safety Concerns:
- Is CBD addictive?
- Can you overdose on CBD?
- Does CBD harm your liver?
When should you avoid using CBD?
- Pre-existing conditions and potential drug interactions
- CBD, pregnancy, and nursing
What are the Side Effects of CBD?
Millions of people around the world are using CBD to manage chronic pain, anxiety, and all manners of sleep disorder. But is it safe and what are the potential side effects of CBD that we need to know about?
Common side effects from most CBD users include feeling happier and calmer, as well as more focused and motivated, but we’re guessing that you’re here to learn about the adverse side effects of CBD, not just the good stuff.
CBD is probably most famous for treating seizure disorders and is currently available on prescription in the US as Epidiolex, for severe and difficult-to-treat forms of epilepsy. It goes without saying that CBD’s side effects must have been considered and been found acceptable in order to win this FDA-approval in the first place, but let’s take a look at the research.
Adverse Effects of CBD
There have already been countless studies (animal studies and human studies) on the therapeutic properties of CBD and once every few years, a team of researchers assess the safety profile of CBD by comprehensively reviewing all of the research available.
They make notes of any side effects that were reported, including the frequency and severity of the symptoms experienced and CBD continues to receive a glowing report each and every time.
For example, a review in 2011 concluded that CBD has a favorable safety profile, with only mild, infrequent side effects ever being recorded.
Another review was carried out in 2017, which included all data up until 2016 (including Epidiolex clinical trials). They too came to the conclusion that CBD has a favorable safety profile and that any adverse effects were mild and infrequent.
What Are the Adverse Effects of CBD?
According to one study, around one in three people experience one or more side effects from taking CBD, such as those found below. However, it’s worth noting here that the doses administered in CBD research are often much higher than any of us would take.
- Dry Mouth
- Drowsiness and Fatigue
- Loss of Appetite
Most, if not all, of these mild side effects are easily treatable (dry mouth = drink water) and the gastrointestinal issues experienced can often be prevented by taking your CBD with a snack or in food.
We Answer 3 Key Concerns About CBD Safety
1. Is CBD Addictive?
No, CBD is not addictive. Unlike high-THC cannabis, which can lead to dependence in some people, CBD doesn’t create any sort of addiction and there are no withdrawal symptoms when you choose to stop taking it.
You don’t have to take my word for it either. To quote the World Health Organization once more “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”
2. Can You Overdose on CBD?
Can you take too much CBD, and how much CBD is too much CBD?
No, all research shows that high doses of CBD are generally well tolerated (including the WHO and the comprehensive safety reviews mentioned above). And when they say high doses, they mean high doses up to 1,500mg.
Since most of us are taking anywhere between 20mg and 100mg per day, I think we can safely say that overdosing isn’t something we should be worried about.
What happens if you take too much CBD? If you do take too much CBD, you will probably feel drowsy, as CBD has been shown to act as a sedative at higher doses, and you may also be more prone to the other mild side effects listed above.
3. Does CBD Damage Your Liver?
One 2017 study on mice suggested that extremely high doses of CBD may cause liver toxicity. It’s worth noting that the doses given to these mice were the equivalent of a 175lb human taking around 200,000mg in one single dose or 50,000mg of CBD per day for several days.
Either way, a new study into liver safety in humans was organized by ValidCare, with the help of funding from 12 key players in the hemp industry.
Preliminary results of the study, which involved 839 participants, were released earlier this year and showed no evidence of liver disease or damage. They plan on repeating this study once more in order to increase statistical certainty.
Interestingly, other studies have actually shown how CBD can help protect the liver, against bile duct ligation, cocaine, thioacetamide, alcohol, and several other chemicals.
When Should You Avoid Using CBD?
Despite the favorable safety profile of CBD, there are some people who should seek a physician’s advice before taking CBD or avoid it altogether.
Pre-existing Conditions and Potential Drug Interactions
CBD has been shown to affect the way your body metabolizes certain medications, in a similar way to eating how a grapefruit would. For example, you have to be very careful when you’re on blood thinners, as taking CBD may cause this drug to stay in your system for longer than it normally would.
For this reason, we recommend that you consult with your doctor before taking CBD so that he or she can give you further advice, help you manipulate your dosage in the correct manner, and monitor you.
Research has also shown that, along with numerous other cardiovascular benefits, CBD can potentially lower blood pressure. Great news for those suffering from hypertension, but if you already have low blood pressure, you should seek medical advice so that you can be monitored more closely.
CBD, Pregnancy, and Nursing
Due to CBD’s anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and anti-emetic properties, you may think that CBD could help some people cope with difficult pregnancies. But unless your doctor recommends it, you should avoid using CBD while pregnant and nursing.
The FDA strongly advises against the use of CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding. There is some evidence that suggests CBD could potentially have a harmful effect on animal embryos and fetuses.
The Real Dangers of CBD
The real dangers of CBD lie in the fact that you are buying your products from an unregulated market, which is why it’s absolutely vital that you find a trustworthy and reliable supplier.
If the CBD in your new CBD tincture was sourced cheaply, there’s no telling what contaminants, heavy metals, and toxins could be in it.
Make Sure Your CBD is Clean
Among their many uses, hemp plants are used for bioremediation, as they’re particularly good at ridding contaminated soil of harmful toxins and heavy metals. They do this by absorbing them, into their plant matter, which is why it’s essential that your hemp be grown organically, on clean, arable land.
The only CBD companies you should consider will be able to produce certificates of analyses (CoAs) that prove that their products are clean and safe to ingest. Reputable CBD providers will pay for their products to be batch-tested by third-parties and will display results on their websites.
Make Sure Your CBD is Effective
Shockingly, a 2017 study examined the contents of 84 CBD products from 31 companies and found that just over 30% of the products were labeled correctly. Some had far less CBD than advertised and some also contained illegal amounts of delta 9 THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis that is responsible for making you feel high).
Please do your research first (and don’t buy your CBD from the gas station down the road!).
Side Effects of CBD Oil in Pets
Mammals also have cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoid systems that help keep their bodies in balance and CBD appears to possess similar beneficial effects (and side effects) for our pets.
Veterinarians around the world have started recommending CBD to pet owners to help with all manner of issues, including mobility problems, anxiety, arthritis, as well as for mood improvement and general wellness.
While there haven’t been any specific studies on the side effects of cannabidiol in dogs, cats, or horses, there have been multiple studies on mice and rats that lead us to believe that the potential effects, both beneficial and adverse, are similar to those found in humans.
A Final Word on CBD Safety
Many people around the world are benefiting from the therapeutic effects of cannabidiol, with little or no adverse side effects at all. Although there was one study that highlighted a potential liver problem in rats, the results of this study were based on the administration of impossibly high doses of pure CBD and human clinical studies have since addressed and quashed the concerns.
Medical cannabis is now state-legal in a total of 36 states, but thanks to the fact that CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive effects, zero dependency, and zero withdrawal symptoms, it is the preferred option for many people.