Common CBD Side Effects & Why They Occur
With all the recent buzz, more and more people are turning to CBD as a holistic treatment and replacement to prescription medication. But cannabidiol isn’t sold like a bottle of pills, so the uses, directions, and side effects are not always available on the side of the bottle. Potential cannabidiol users turn to other sources to do their homework on the all natural supplement.
Most often you will find good reviews, but occasionally someone experiences adverse side effects after using CBD products. The question is: Are these side effects a result of the cannabidiol itself or just the result of user error? The answer isn’t so straightforward.
According to most scientific research, the side effects related to cannabidiol are mild. More severe side effects could be a result of misuse, interactions with current medications, or synthetic additives in your CBD products.
One Reddit user, millo31, described his unpleasant experience in detail. After trying a friend’s vape, he found the effects to be the opposite of what he had hoped. The vape didn’t contain pure CBD oil, but instead was a mixture of a “CBD additive” and vape oil.
He reported feeling “high,” but not the relaxing high many people associate with cannabis. He went on to explain that this high feeling 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 straight to the internet, where he looked for answers concerning the additive. After a quick Google search he found a news report. This news report showed that other teens in his area had ended up hospitalized from the same product. Fortunately for millo31, his terrifying trip only lasted about 15 minutes before he was feeling back to normal. The entire experience left him pretty shaken up, which probably explains his cautionary Reddit post title “STAY AWAY FROM GREEN MIST ‘CBD’ ADDITIVE.”
These results are not what users are seeking when they look to CBD to treat their arthritis, anxiety, pain, and other chronic conditions. Scrolling through the thread confirmed what you may suspect: Green Mist CBD Additive is a synthetic product. These synthetic products are lab cultivated versions of the cannabinoids naturally found in the cannabis plant, but they often have very different effects.
Although these products are not regulated by the FDA (therefore the company is not required to divulge this information) a little digging confirmed that the product has caused quite the uprise in Madison, Mississippi. The company’s website doesn’t have a single ingredient list in sight, and just 5 months after the Reddit thread was created, these “CBD” products have been removed from the site entirely.
CBD (the real kind, not synthetic) has been increasingly popular in recent years, with many people turning to it as their first choice for managing a variety of health conditions, and sometimes even as a replacement for prescription medications. Before you make the jump to cannabidiol, do the research and 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.
The Cannabis Stigma
Before hopping straight to cannabidiol, you should take a look at its source. Cannabis has been stigmatized for decades, but 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 many people consider to be much 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 should be noted that people are turning to CBD specifically because it does not cause any psychoactive effects. There is no high associated with cannabidiol, and the cannabinoid still carries many of the medicinal properties associated with the cannabis plant. As a result, many people choose cannabidiol over traditional medical marijuana. CBD that is extracted directly from a variety of the cannabis plant and contains no additives is thought to be just as safe as cannabis itself.
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 may have synthetic additives, which is what led to millo31’s cautionary tale on Reddit.
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 a third-party laboratory to run tests on their products. These tests generally look at the quality of the CBD oil and provide information regarding potency, cannabinoid and 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.
There is still much research to be done concerning the side effects of CBD. This makes it difficult to give any definite answers. When you delve into the world of online reviews, you will find lots of positive responses about the healthful benefits of CBD. Every so often, though, you will see a complaint or warning of adverse side effects. Generally, these side effects are mild and usually have a simple resolve.
To help you make an educated decision for your health, below is a list the most commonly reported side effects related to CBD. These are some of the common experiences of others users or pulled from relevant studies that may explain what caused these side effects and how to avoid them.
- 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 incredibly drowsy is uncommon.There are several explanations for this side effect. Sometimes, taking a dose of CBD that is too high can make you feel tired. You should also consider the source of your cannabidiol. 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 may cause drowsiness, like Myrcene, which is known for its sedative effects.
- Restlessness: Contrary to the previous effects, some users report that cannabidiol makes them feel energized or restless. Of course, extra energy is not necessarily a bad thing, but for users who wish to treat insomnia or use CBD to help them sleep, restlessness is frustrating. One Lift Co. forum member reported that Cannatonic, a high CBD strain, made it more difficult for her to fall asleep at night.Another helpful member cleared up her concerns, though. Cannatonic is a 50/50 hybrid strain, meaning it is 50% Indica and 50% Sativa. Chances are, its Sativa roots are what causes 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: Rarely, someone may report having headaches after using CBD oil. Headaches are common side effects related to certain strains of cannabis as well. Usually, though, the headache is more likely a result of taking too large of a dose. 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.One user reported that he started CBD oil to treat his anxiety and agoraphobia. His initial dose was 3 drops a day, every day for a week, and he reported no adverse side effects. The oil worked wonders for reducing his anxiety. The next week he increased his dose and began experiencing mild headaches that got increasingly severe as the week went on. It is likely that the increased dose resulted in the negative effects.Generally, there is no reason to increase your dose if you are already experiencing the desired effects. If you suddenly start experiencing mild side effects after an increased dose, that 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 related to marijuana, often called “cotton mouth.” Typically, this effect is related to THC instead of CBD and is 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. Chris, a member of the Grasscity forum, said he began using Harlequin (a high CBD strain of cannabis) for his arthritis. He reported feeling nauseous after the dose, and related the feeling to a “bad hangover.”A member suggested that his dose was too high. With some CBD products, especially when using the dry herb, it can be difficult to control the dose of cannabidiol you consume. Too much cannabidiol can easily lead to nausea and results in loss of appetite. Not eating for a long period of time can make nausea worse.Luckily, the fix to this problem is pretty simple. Chris reduced his CBD dosage and tried a new dosing method. After trying CBD vape oil, he concluded that one hit off the vape was enough to calm his arthritis without causing any negative side effects.
- Lower Blood Pressure: Some studies have proven that CBD can be linked to lower blood pressure, and for people struggling with hypertension, that is a great thing. However, cannabidiol may also lower blood pressure in healthy adults. For people who already struggle with low blood pressure, that can be a real concern.Generally speaking, large doses of CBD are needed to see significant changes in blood pressure. One study concerning the effects of CBD on blood pressure involved nine healthy males. 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 evidence 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. Sarah Fischer, a Grasscity member, said that her first experience with CBD oil ended in mild euphoria. The effects went on for over a week, so she reached out to a forum for help. Like any new member, Sarah was probably confused by these effects from cannabidiol. She posted photos of her product and the nutrition facts for reference.One look at the nutrition facts on her oral cannabidiol supplement gives some indication as to why she may have experienced these effects. For every 1 ml of the product, there is 2.2mg of CBD and 1.3mg of THC. While this is still not a huge THC content, it is enough to have some impact on users who are sensitive or have no THC tolerance. 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 pulls information from several studies over the years. The conclusion shows 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.
Safety of Cannabidiol Products
Most of the evidence suggests that cannabidiol products are just as safe as their source and that adverse side effects are generally related to improper dosing, other drug interactions, or nasty additives. There is a lack of medical evidence confirming any serious side effects and many studies that consistently suggest its wide range of health benefits. As a result, more and more doctors and medical and health institutions are supporting widespread use of CBD.
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.
Originally published at www.saveoncannabis.com on September 26, 2018.