Are There Side Effects to Taking CBD?

by Amelia Noble

CBD oil has exploded in popularity in recent years. It’s touted as a treatment for a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, anxiety, and even epilepsy. But are there any downsides to taking CBD oil?

Generally, no. CBD oil side effects tend to be rare, and when they do occur, it’s usually due to interacting with other drugs. Of course, if you’re considering using CBD oil, it’s important to be aware of these potential side effects, and how CBD oil could interact with any other medications you’re taking.

CBD Oil Safety Profile

Overall, CBD is considered safe to use. World Health Organization research indicates CBD is generally well tolerated and has a good safety profile, and some countries have modified laws so that CBD can be used as a medicinal product.

The World Health Organization notes that CBD has little risk of abuse or dependence. And the organization reports that adverse effects may be a result of interactions with existing medications.

CBD vs. THC

A major side effect many people may be concerned about with CBD is the potential for psychoactive effects, but there’s no merit to that concern, as CBD oil use doesn’t come with a high like THC use does.

Though CBD and THC both come from cannabis and are cannabinoids, they’re not the same. CBD is typically sourced from industrial hemp, then purified to remove all other cannabinoids (including THC), while THC is sourced from marijuana.

Side Effects in Clinical Studies

In some studies, CBD is well tolerated with no signs of toxicity or serious side effects. In others, side effects include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Convulsion
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abnormal liver function

These side effects occurred during clinical studies of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy, and the World Health Organization suggests the side effects may relate to interactions with antiepileptic drugs.

Taking CBD

Overall, CBD oil is a low risk drug that could offer relief for some conditions, such as chronic pain, depression, nausea, migraines, substance abuse, and PTSD. Side effects are possible, but rare. If you’re taking other medications, especially antiepileptic drugs, it’s important to talk to your doctor about potential interactions.

CBD can be taken through oral ingestion such as edibles or gummies, sublingual tinctures, transdermal application such as lotion, or inhalation with vaping or smoking. In general, oral ingestion and transdermal applications will take longer to take effect, but the effects may last longer. Vaping or smoking CBD can offer near immediate effects, but the effects wear off faster.

Dosage depends on your body weight, tolerance, other medications, and how much you feel you need. Typically, the rule of thumb is 1 to 6 mg per 10 pounds of body weight. You can start out with the minimum dose, and increase if you’re not feeling effective relief at that lower dose.

Side effects are rare, but possible with CBD. If you’re considering taking CBD to alleviate a health condition (mental or physical), talk to your doctor about making it part of your treatment plan and how CBD might interact with other drugs.

Amelia Noble is a researcher with the CBD Awareness Project. When she’s not studying CBD, you can find her playing board games.

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