CBD Side Effects & Why They Occur

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With all the recent buzz, more and more people are turning to cannabidiol as a holistic treatment alternative and replacement to prescription medication. But lack of regulation and standards means that information for its use, dosing, and potential CBD side effects are not always available with each product. Potential users turn to other sources to learn about the correct use of the supplement.

According to most scientific research, the side effects related to cannabidiol are mild. Most severe side effects tend to be a result of misuse, interactions with current medications, or synthetic additives to the CBD products. Cannabidiol has a healthy reputation among most users, but occasionally someone has an adverse experience with it. The question is: are these side effects a result of the cannabidiol itself or the result of something else?

One individual described his unpleasant experience in detail. He reported feeling “high” – an unusual phenomenon given that cannabidiol by itself is not psychoactive. He described that his “high” was intense, resulting in visuals, loss of motor control, back and neck aches, and a slew of other undesirable side effects.

His experience led him to look for answers about that particular product. An online search showed a news report about other teens in the area that ended up hospitalized from using the same product. Upon further investigation, it was confirmed that the product used (Green Mist CBD additive) is a synthetic product. Synthetic products are lab cultivated versions of the cannabinoids naturally found in the cannabis plant, but they often cause unpleasant effects.

What Are the Common CBD Side Effects?

There is still much research to be done concerning the side effects of CBD. A dive into patients’ online reviews will show overwhelmingly positive feedback about CBD in general. Every so often, though, you will see a complaint of adverse side effects. Generally, these are mild and easy to avoid. To help you make an educated decision for your health, below is a list the most commonly reported CBD side effects. These are some of the reported experiences of patients as well as aggregated from relevant studies.

  • Drowsiness and Fatigue
    Some people report feeling tired or fatigued after using cannabidiol. While CBD is known for its abilities to help you relax, and in some cases is even used to treat insomnia, feeling fatigued or drowsy is uncommon. There are several explanations for this side effect. Ingesting a high dose of CBD can make you feel tired. You should also consider the strain from which cannabidiol is derived. For instance, cannabidiol products that are sourced from an Indica strain may be more likely to make you tired. Some supplements also have other natural additives from the cannabis plant, like terpenes. Certain terpenes like Myrcene are known for its sedative effects.
  • Restlessness
    Contrary to the previous effects, some users report that cannabidiol makes them feel energized or restless. Extra energy is not necessarily a bad thing, but for users who wish to treat insomnia, restlessness is frustrating. If your CBD is derived from a Sativa strain, it may cause it to act more like a stimulant than a sleep aid. Switching to a CBD product harvested from an Indica dominant strain could resolve this problem. Sometimes, higher doses are needed to help users get the “sleepy” effects they’re looking for.
  • Headaches
    Cannabidiol is often chosen as an alternative to migraine medications, and many studies have shown that cannabis has the potential to reduce inflammation and pain due to headaches. However a small percentage of users have reported headaches after using CBD oil. This side effect is usually attributed to taking too large of a dose. Headaches are also a common side effect of certain strains of cannabis as well. Generally, there is no reason to increase your dose if you are already getting the desired effects from your CBD products. Mild side effects after an increased dose is a telltale sign that your dose is too high.
  • Weight and Appetite Changes
    Weight changes with cannabidiol are more common than some other side effects. This is because cannabidiol is known to help reduce appetite. One study concluded that CBD may have the ability to stimulate weight loss in patients suffering from obesity or metabolic disorders. Generally, people who wish to use cannabidiol to aid weight loss efforts take a dose at least an hour before a meal. If weight loss is a concern for you, you may be able to avoid these effects. Because the weight loss is usually contributed to appetite control and consuming fewer calories, you can sidestep this effect by eating either before or with your cannabidiol dose.
  • Dry Mouth
    Dry mouth is a side effect that is frequently associated with marijuana use (referred to as “cotton mouth”). Typically, this effect is related to THC instead of CBD and it occurs due to the reaction of certain CB receptors in the salivary glands. These glands, when introduced to THC, signal a decrease in saliva production. Generally, if CBD is related to dry mouth, it is most likely due to its THC content. Many cannabidiol products can be purchased with less than 0.3% THC, which may help avoid cotton mouth.
  • Nausea
    Although CBD is commonly considered a good way to ward off nausea, some people report an upset stomach or feeling nauseous as a side effect. Because our digestive tract is so delicately balanced, there are several reasons this could happen. The most common reason is a dose that is too high. With some CBD products, especially when using the dry herb, it can be difficult to control the amount of cannabidiol you consume. Too much cannabidiol can easily lead to nausea and loss of appetite. Not eating for a long period of time can make nausea worse. The solution to this problem is simple. A reduction in dosage and new method of ingestion are the first step. Vape oil or tinctures may be a great way to properly measure and receive your dosage to address your medical issue without causing negative side effects.
  • Lower Blood Pressure
    Studies have shown that CBD can be linked to lower blood pressure which is welcome news for people struggling with hypertension. However, cannabidiol may also lower blood pressure in healthy adults. This is a concern for people who struggle with hypotension. Generally speaking, large doses of CBD would need to be consumed to see significant changes in blood pressure. According to the study of CBD’s effect on blood pressure, in order to see a change of -5mmHg (which would alter a normal 120/80 reading to 115/80), the recipients had to take doses as high as 600mg of CBD. Avoiding this reaction may be as simple as taking lower doses of cannabidiol.
  • Increased Tremors in Parkinson’s Disease
    There is significant evidence that CBD oil may help with the motor impairment, rigidity, difficulty sleeping, tremors, and other symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Cannabidiol is shown to have neuroprotective effects that help reduce the severity of these symptoms and may make them useful for treating a wide range of neurodegenerative disorders. However, some users report that CBD actually increases tremors due to Parkinson’s disease. There is not much scientific research to explain this reaction. It is important to talk with your doctor when using CBD oil as a health supplement, especially for treating chronic illness.
  • Euphoria
    It is uncommon, but users sometimes report feeling “high” or euphoric effects after using CBD oil. Euphoria is not usually caused by pure CBD products. Many CBD products are mixed with some THC due to supposed enhancement of the beneficial properties. While ratios may be extremely low, it could be enough to impact users who are sensitive to THC or have no tolerance to it. Choosing a CBD product with no THC should help avoid any euphoric effects.

A look at some of the most recent studies regarding the safety of cannabidiol helps support these side effects. A study titled An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies aggregated information from several studies over the years. The conclusion was that in patients using CBD to treat epilepsy and psychotic disorders the most common side effects were diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight changes, and tiredness. Overall, the general safety profile of cannabidiol was confirmed.

Purity of CBD Products & The Role of Additives

There are many different cannabidiol products on the market, each with different additive, purity, and potency factors. Unfortunately, some companies have leaned toward cashing in on the CBD market by providing lower quality products that contain synthetic additives.

Other types of CBD products may not be low in quality, but do contain other naturally occurring compounds besides cannabidiol. It is important to note that in many cases the negative side effects could be related to any one of these additives, and is less likely to be related strictly to cannabidiol.

The best way to avoid these side effects (or at least be able to pinpoint the cause if they happen to you) is to look for a company that provides total transparency about their product. Even though CBD is not regulated by the FDA, legitimate CBD manufacturers pay for independent laboratory testing. These tests examine the quality of CBD oil and provide information regarding potency, cannabinoid profiles, terpene profiles, and purity.

When purchasing a CBD product, you should have full access to a list of ingredients and any third-party test results. If you are unsure or think that you may be sensitive to any of these products, you should look for a product with higher purity. Avoid any synthetic additives and understand that any other additive (including natural additives) may have its own set of risks unrelated to cannabidiol.

CBD side effects

The Cannabis Stigma

It is also important to examine the history of the source of CBD. Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid found in cannabis – a plant that has been stigmatized for decades. The basis for this stigma against the all-natural plant is mostly based on misunderstanding and fear mongering.

Claims of death due to cannabis consumption have been debunked, and over the years many studies have uncovered hundreds of medicinal uses for the plant. In 2017, Drugs of Abuse, published by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stated that there have been no confirmed reports of death linked to an overdose of marijuana.

Some people frown upon marijuana use because of the associated “high,” which most users consider to be less debilitating than the effects of alcohol. Marijuana does contain THC, a cannabinoid known for its psychoactive effects. As with any recreational substance, cannabis should be used responsibly.

It is important to understand that people are turning to CBD specifically because it does not cause psychoactive effects. There is no high associated with it, and the cannabinoid still offers many of the medicinal properties associated with cannabis. As a result, many people choose cannabidiol over traditional medical marijuana. CBD that is extracted directly from a cannabis plant and contains no additives is considered to be as safe as cannabis itself.

Safety of Cannabidiol Products

CBD (the naturally-derived version) has been increasingly popular in recent years, with many people turning to it as their first choice for managing a variety of health conditions. It even acts as a replacement for prescription medications for some patients. Before you make the jump to cannabidiol, it is important to speak with your doctor to cover all of your bases. You should look at the potential benefits, dosing methods and sizes, additives, purities, and, of course, the risks involved with taking CBD.

Most of the evidence suggests that cannabidiol products are safe and adverse side effects are generally related to factors unrelated to the cannabinoid itself. Improper dosing, interactions with other drugs, and synthetic additives tend to be the root cause of most such issues. There is a little to no medical evidence confirming serious side effects and many studies consistently suggest its wide range of health benefits. As a result, more and more doctors and medical and health institutions are supporting further research of CBD’s medicinal purposes.

If you are considering trying CBD or have noticed any strange or adverse reactions from your dose, consult your doctor. He or she will be able to help you pinpoint the problem, adjust your dose as needed, or recommend other options if CBD is not right for you.

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