CBD is a natural compound that is rapidly growing in popularity among all demographics regardless of age, gender, and even nationality. But do we know whether CBD is safe?
CBD is a 100% legal Cannabinoid compound found in a Cannabis plant. Unlike its currently illegal sibling THC, CBD causes no psychoactive effects of any kind. In other words, if you are wondering if CBD will get you stoned, the answer is a definitive no. A research study found that CBD is non-toxic and can easily be tolerated in quantities of 1,500 mg or less. However, this has also created a legal grey area that is the CBD supplement market, which allows for CBD items to be sold without a license and proper extraction and production methods.
Not only CDB cannot cause any damage to the human brain, it actually has been demonstrated to be a neuroprotective antioxidant. Even the World Health Organization in 2017 declared CBD to be non-toxic, safe and posing no risk of addiction. However, although CBD has been found to be safe, as with many things that we consume, there are potential side-effects. Fortunately, there are just a few unwanted or adverse side reactions from the consumption of CBD, including low blood pressure, dry mouth, inhibition of hepatic drug metabolism and drowsiness. Below we discuss the side effects that potentially could be present after using CBD oil, but first, let’s cover some basic information about CBD.
Types of CBD
Full-spectrum CBD oil is derived from the whole hemp plant matter. That implies taking the stems, flowers, roots, and leaves and pulverizing, pressing, or power washing them to extract the oils from the hemp plant. This will leave consumers with a full spectrum of cannabinoids, including CBG, THC, CBD, CBN, etc., terpenes, and phytochemicals such as chlorophyll and other organic plant compounds. The resulting CBD oil will have a robust hempy taste and be dark in colour. Besides, it will also contain 0.2% or less THC.
As it has been briefly mentioned, other commonly found cannabinoids are CBN, CBG, CBC, CBDV and onwards, currently counting more than two hundred known kinds. Many of them are currently being researched for their own unique benefits. All of these cannabinoids, including THC, work symbiotically to create an “entourage effect.” This effect implies that the best results are achieved when all of the cannabinoids are present in a product. Full-spectrum CBD oil is going to cast the widest net when it comes to balancing out the human endocannabinoid system.
Broad-spectrum CBD oil is produced through the same process as full-spectrum CBD oil by taking the stems, roots, flowers, and leaves. The difference is that after extraction, the THC compound is separated and removed completely. This still leaves consumers with a vast range of cannabinoids in addition to CBD.
Many individuals find themselves in situations when they cannot have any THC in their system, so broad-spectrum products are becoming the most valued form of CBD. In fact, high-quality broad-spectrum oil will have no trace amounts of THC, but still gives an otherwise full cannabinoid profile, which will include CBG, CBD, CBDV, CBN and other potential cannabinoids, allowing consumers to maintain the ‘entourage effect’. For many individuals looking to get the health benefits without the concern of the psychotropic component, broad-spectrum CBD oil is the most effective choice.
Significantly, when choosing broad-spectrum oil for this reason, it is always advised to make sure you are purchasing from a brand that provides independent third-party lab tests or a Certificate of Analysis to verify there is no detectable THC within the item. It is also important to take a note of the carrier oil used in production. Certified Organic MCT Oil or the fractionated coconut oil is the best option here as it also provides a more transparent in colour and much cleaner tasting product.
Typically, isolates are exactly what they sound to be, referring to a single isolated compound from the plant. This is usually done through a supercritical CO2 extraction method. Through this process chlorophyll, the oils, plant material and all other elements are removed, leaving behind a 99% pure CBD product. The fascinating thing about isolates is that consumers can now find other cannabinoids isolated such as CBN and CBG. As more research is carried out on the hundreds of known cannabinoids, people will be able to specifically target their interactions with the body and all health benefits associated with them. Therefore, this makes it exciting to be able to customize cannabinoid profiles by combining different isolated cannabinoids to form a new product based on specific health and wellness needs.
Forms of CBD
In general, CBD is available in several different forms. This variety allows consumers to tailor their method of use to their specific needs. Here are the most common forms of CBD:
Capsules and pills
CBD pills and capsules are used for systemic treatment of digestive issues and seizure disorders. The FDA has recently approved Epidolex, the first high-potency CBD drug to treat seizure disorders.
Creams and lotions
CBD-infused topicals are usually used to treat joint and muscle pain. They can also treat some skin conditions, like psoriasis and eczema.
Oils and tinctures
These liquid natural oils are typically placed under the tongue with a dropper. In fact, the oral mucosa is full of microscopic capillaries that absorb the compounds pretty quickly. Tinctures and oils represent the right choice for anyone who cannot take capsules or pills.
Inhaling vaporized CBD oil is the fastest way to experience the effects. Compounds are usually inhaled and absorbed directly from the lungs into the bloodstream. The question is whether vaping does damage lung tissue. Still, not much research on this topic has been carried out nowadays. Anyway, it is advised to proceed with caution if a person chooses to vape CBD.
Edibles such as gummies represent one of the most popular ways to take CBD. They are portable, discrete, affordable, and tasty. There is also no guesswork involved as a consumer knows exactly what dosage he or she is taking.
The Benefits of CBD Oil
Some people are likely to question the reason for taking CBD if there’s no psychoactive component which only comes in THC. Well, the benefits of CBD oil go far beyond altering brain functionality. Generally, the human body possesses its endocannabinoid system, which operates with the natural cannabinoid receptors in the brain and immune system to reduce inflammation, pain, and other things which jeopardize the homeostasis. At the same time, people still maintain full control over brain functionality.
Although different types of CBD products are excellent due to its convenient consumption methods, there are many reasons and potential health benefits provided by CBD in general.
CBD Oil Alleviates Depression and Anxiety
According to the statistics of the World Health Organization, over 300 million individuals in the world suffer from depression. Depression is very widespread without most people even knowing they have it. A large percentage of these people also suffer from anxiety. These are two severe mental disorders that can ruin the quality of people’s lives. However, several medical studies have found that CBD can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression in individuals. CBD even helps fight social and public speaking anxiety. CBD is known to have a calming effect and help control mood fluctuations. It can also help children with autism who experience frequent violent mood swings.
Helps with ADHD
People with ADHD have trouble focusing on various tasks at hand. They tend to have problems with concentration and cognitive performance. CBD has demonstrated promise in promoting focus and helping patients with ADHD. It is also considered a safer alternative to Ritalin and Adderall.
CBD Oil Reduces Pain
Nowadays, CBD gets the most attention because of its amazing ability to reduce pain. In general, it can reduce a wide variety of pains ranging from the physical pain caused by arthritis to the neuropathic pain caused by multiple sclerosis. If consumers have an inflammatory disease which is causing pain, they can try some CBD oil and will see pain symptoms greatly reduced.
CBD Oil Prevents Diabetes
CBD is also believed to prevent a condition called insulitis, which destroys pancreatic beta cells. Since insulitis is a significant cause of Type I Diabetes, avoiding it can help prevent diabetes too. Besides, for many patients who already have diabetes, CBD can also help by lowering the negative effects of the disease like neuroinflammation and memory deficits.
Viable Drug Addiction Treatment
Drug addiction usually affects various brain areas that cause people to develop a dependency on drugs like morphine and heroin. CBD works to adjust the brain circuits responsible for stimulating the addiction so that individuals do not have a dependence on those drugs as much anymore.
CBD Oil Fights Insomnia
Do you have trouble getting to sleep? If so, then CBD oil might be the answer to reduce insomnia or any other sleeping difficulties that you may experience. This is linked to CBD’s ability to reduce anxiety and worries that cause individuals to stay awake.
CBD Oil Reduces Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a primary cause of strokes, cardiovascular diseases, and heart attacks. It has been found that if patients take one dose of CBD oil each day, then they will find themselves feeling better with lower blood pressure. This implies that people will have fewer chances of getting heart disease, for example.
CBD Prevents and Reduces Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms
Neuroinflammation is a significant contributor to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. CBD oil can work to reduce and prevent neuroinflammation by shielding neurons from free radicals that try to destroy them.
CBD Oil Eliminates and Prevents Acne
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD also help lower the production of sebum in the skin. As it has already been known, sebum is natural oil produced by the skin. When excessive amounts of sebum are created, it results in acne. However, if people consume CBD oil, it lowers the production of sebum. As a result, visible acne will clear up fast.
CBD Helps Fight Cancer
One of the potential medical benefits of CBD oil is its ability to fight cancer. There is a good amount of research that demonstrates cannabinoids can fight cancer or at least certain types of it. In fact, the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD help achieve anti-tumour effects as well. If a person is worried about developing a cancerous tumour in the brain, colon, lung, breast, or prostate, he or she can try CBD oil consistently.
CBD Possesses Antipsychotic Effects
CBD oil has been found to lower psychotic symptoms in patients suffering from various types of mental disorders, such as psychosis and schizophrenia. The evidence has not been proven definitively for all types of mental disorders, but patients with these disorders have received significant relief from CBD oil.
CBD Slows the Development of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is one of many diseases which are caused by cognitive degeneration. As people age, cognitive degeneration is unavoidable. CBD oil contains anti-inflammatories that fight brain inflammation that results in Alzheimer’s disease.
CBD Helps with PTSD symptoms
Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD does not just affect military veterans. Other individuals that go through mental trauma also might have a tendency to experience the disorder. CBD oil has been shown to have a positive impact on individuals with PTSD. In fact, CBD oil helps control the fight or flight response, preventing it from going into overdrive.
Side Effects of CBD Products
Although items made with CBD are becoming more popular among consumers all over the world, there is still much misinformation related to CBD and whether it causes any side effects. In fact, CBD alone is not intoxicating and does not lead to euphoric sensations as its sibling tetrahydrocannabinol does. Thus, hemp products such as CBD oil can be viewed as one of the safest sources of cannabinoids. Due to the fact that manufacturers sell CBD items in different forms, including skin creams, soft gel capsules, tincture, edibles etc., different forms may lead to various side effects that differ depending on the way CBD is consumed.
When taken by mouth
CBD products are generally safe to consume, and the vast majority of individuals can ingest CBD oil without experiencing any unpleasant side effects. The same low risk of unwanted symptoms applies when CBD is taken by mouth or sprayed under the tongue. When it comes to side effects from oral CBD consumption, they might include lightheadedness, dry mouth and drowsiness. The FDA-approved Epidiolex has also been linked to changes in appetite, vomiting and nausea, as well as diarrhoea.
The use of CBD can cause what is called by Cannabis enthusiasts as “cotton mouth”. Such dry mouth effect seems to be a result of CBD’s interaction with the CB receptors in the mouth known as submandibular glands. Consequently, this interaction has a tendency to reduce saliva production. Lots of water before and after consuming CBD oil can help avoid this side reaction.
CBD can affect the sleep cycle. In fact, high doses of CBD can induce drowsiness. Paradoxically, it has also been demonstrated in clinical research to be a wake-inducing agent.
Low blood pressure
In high doses, CBD is believed to affect blood pressure. Typically, it has been observed to lower blood pressure within a few minutes after entering the body. This can lead to a temporary light-headed feeling when standing too quickly. Besides, it potentially offers a novel treatment for hypertension, which is a growing medical problem in the western world.
Inhibition of hepatic drug metabolism
CBD can also inhibit hepatic drug metabolism, which is responsible for breaking down most pharmaceutical drugs. To be more precise, CBD temporarily neutralises the enzyme cytochrome P-450.
Diarrhoea is considered as another potential side effect of CBD. However, this reaction is most likely caused by other ingredients in CBD items. Some research studies revealed that two potential reasons for diarrhoea are dosage and CBD carrier oils. In fact, it is possible that other compounds in CBD products can contribute to gastrointestinal distress. Coconut oil and MCT oil are frequently utilised as carrier oils in commercial CBD items. They have been found to cause diarrhoea and loose stool in those individuals who are not used to taking it.
If a consumer is experiencing this side reaction, it is advised to stop taking CBD for twenty-four hours immediately. Such a timeframe is necessary to see whether CBD or any other item caused it. Moreover, it is recommended to lower the dosage or find out a CBD item that does not contain a carrier oil — as always, consulting a doctor is a must if there are any concerns or questions.
In general, higher doses of CBD can occasionally result in fatigue or drowsiness. This side reaction was identified by the studies that tried to explore CBD’s effects on sleep. Indeed, high doses of CBD helped consumers increase sleeping time, but some consumers reported feeling tired after the exposure. Consequently, health care professionals do not recommend taking CBD oil before or while driving.
Potential Vape additive issues
As a matter of fact, there may also be some potentially adverse side reactions from different vaporiser additives and products. Some CBD brands use artificial flavourings that contain chemicals which, although are labelled ‘Generally Recognised As Safe’ by FDA, might cause certain side effects. It’s important to note that this applies exclusively to oral methods of CBD consumption.
Vegetable Glycerin is a common constituent in most CBD vape juices that can cause an allergic reaction. Moreover, it can cause individuals, who are particularly sensitive to this compound, to suffer from dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea. As with vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol is ‘Generally Recognised As Safe,’ but consumers may still experience an allergic reaction.
When applied to the skin
CBD has already proven its therapeutic benefits for various severe conditions. Nevertheless, when applied to the skin, CBD is not risk-free. Nowadays, there is not much reliable information to know if there are any side effects when CBD is applied to the skin. However, sometimes an allergic reaction can take place.
Ways to avoid having adverse effects
Who Should Avoid CBD?
Although CBD has been regarded safe by the WHO and other reputable health organizations, not enough research has been done to find out if there are any populations for whom CBD products are unsafe. Because of various ethical reasons, testing the safety of CBD in children and pregnant women is very limited. However, the studies indicate CBD may be safe for kids struggling with ADHD and epilepsy. Patients who have liver problems might also need to be cautious about the CBD intake. It is currently unknown whether CBD products directly affect the liver or it is their interaction with other drugs that lead to liver problems.
All in all, it would be a good safety practice to control liver enzymes when introducing CBD into the routine. Moreover, some research studies report that CBD lowers blood pressure. Therefore, consumers suffering from hypotension might need to keep an eye on blood pressure when trying new CBD products.
It has been found that consuming CBD alongside some pharmaceuticals could pose a significant health risk. The human body processes drugs in different ways. In general, CBD can occupy enzymes that the human body uses to process drugs such as warfarin, HIV antivirals, anti-epileptics, and others. When breastfeeding or during pregnancy, a woman shares everything she intakes with her kid. Thus, molecules in the mother’s bloodstream can be passed to the child’s body through the placenta and breast milk. The previous studies revealed that CBD could be found in breast milk, but it is uncertain how it affects a developing baby. If a woman is currently breastfeeding or pregnant and uses CBD items to manage anxiety, it is necessary to discuss it with a healthcare professional. Moreover, it is not clear how CBD oil impacts a growing fetus, so it is recommended for pregnant women to avoid taking it altogether.
Stick to a Proper Dosage to Avoid Side Effects
Several side effects may be caused by the incorrect dosage of CBD oil that people can take. In fact, depending on the reason why a person is taking CBD or the medical condition, she or he will need a different dosage. Significantly, some individuals need a high dosage to control epilepsy, whereas smaller dosages may be efficient for anxiety.
Another factor that consumers should consider before using CBD oil is their weight. When using Epidiolex and in many clinical trials, health care professionals calculate a dose per kg of body weight. Therefore, individuals who weigh less should take a lower dosage than those who weigh more.
Central nervous system depressants or alcohol may increase the sedation effect of CBD oil. Patients who use other medications that can cause drowsiness should avoid or lower their dosage of CBD oil. Before mixing drugs and alcohol with CBD, consumers are advised to ask their doctor whether it is safe. Consumers must also consider the dosage in each form of CBD. For example, a capsule of CBD has a specific dosage, but the dosage of CBD oil depends on the volume.
Although research data in humans remain limited regarding the effects of taking pure CBD oil, experts suggest that it has relatively low toxicity. In a human physical dependence study, researchers gave participants 1,500 mg of CBD every day for four weeks. The results indicated that such a high dose was well-tolerated without any side reactions. The World Health Organization also reports that consumers usually tolerate CBD well.
It’s important to note that there are no official guidelines for CBD oil dosage. Some manufacturers are advertising CBD items with unproven medical claims, and the safety and quality of these products can vary. The dosage that consumers take will depend on the method of administration that they are using and the specific CBD item. Some brands advise the starting dosage should be 2.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight twice daily, making a total dosage of 5 mg/kg each day. After one week of consumption, consumers may increase the dosage to 5 mg/kg twice daily, which is a total of 10 mg/kg per day. However, if any adverse reaction is detected, it is strongly recommended to make it lower and speak to the doctor about appropriate dosages and those side effects.
Choose good quality brands and products
In general, CBD is a safe compound, but there are many inferior quality CBD items produced by unreliable brands. Such products may contain harmful ingredients that can lead to potential problems with health. Another critical issue is the labelling of CBD products, which is frequently inconsistent and unclear, making it confusing for people to know what they are purchasing.
After buying CBD oil from dishonest and unsafe manufacturers, a consumer might experience side effects. Such unreliable CBD products may contain heavy metals, higher levels of THC, contaminants, and some synthetic compounds. They might also not contain CBD at all. In fact, when a product contains high levels of THC, a person might experience hunger, dry mouth, and altered mood and thinking.
Thus, if a consumer wants CBD products to work without unpleasant side effects, it is necessary to buy CBD from reliable and trusted sources. Besides, research is recommended before purchasing and using CBD oil.
How to identify high-quality CBD oil
CBD oil is one of the most effective and underrated supplements in the world nowadays. It is also part of a fast-growing global market. However, not all CBD items are equal in terms of value. The reason being the popularisation of the CBD market that encouraged unscrupulous scam artists to develop less reputable and quality products.
As with any other supplement, the quality of CBD oil that people consume is a vital factor that will consequently determine its effectiveness. Inferior quality products may include harmful toxins, so consumers must keep in mind a few key points that are discussed below while making a purchase.
Value for Money is More Significant than Cost
We will start with a universal lesson in consumerism that can be applied to every item and marketplace in existence today. To put it simply, consumers should always prioritise value for money over the bottom line cost of a service or item. The reason is that it allows long-term savings and enables people to achieve the best possible return on their investment.
This principle is even more critical in case of CBD as less reputable manufacturers may utilise questionable processes in order to slash production costs. In fact, cheaper extraction methods normally require the use of toxic solvents, including pentane, propane, hexane and butane. These solvents are regarded as hydrocarbon gases and can be found in petroleum and be used in gas stoves. Prolonged exposure to such toxins can cause adverse effects, so extraction processes that leverage those solvents should be avoided at all costs.
Research studies have demonstrated that CBD oil should be extracted through what is known as a “supercritical CO2 extraction” method. This method requires the use of carbon dioxide within a cold and highly pressurised environment which converts the colourless gas into liquid without leaving any residues behind. This extraction method is regarded as environmentally-friendly and extremely safe while utilising virtually no toxins and helps optimise the purity of the final product. In fact, it is also used as the standard extraction method for beverages, food, and the herbal supplement industry. It serves as a guarantee of peace of mind and quality for customers.
The main issue with this extraction method is that it requires considerable production expertise and costly equipment, which is usually reflected by the price of the final item. Indeed, this provides a sharp contrast with cheaper production methods, which is why value needs to be the critical watchword when searching the marketplace.
Consumers should remember that noticeably low prices are usually indicative of unsafe and questionable production techniques. At the same time, higher costs tend to provide a guarantee of product quality and far higher value for money.
The Origin of CBD is Important
While the method in which CBD oil is extracted remains a key consideration for consumers, the quality of the CBD oil that people buy also relies heavily on its original source. Indeed, this is a universal rule of manufacturing, as one of the best ways to ensure quality is to work with materials of the highest standards.
While CBD is a natural compound, the quality of the oil that consumers eventually buy will be profoundly affected by its origin. In terms of the source and its importance, individuals must keep in mind that hemp plants are viewed as hyperaccumulators. This implies that the plant’s roots are absorbents that have a tendency to take in harmful substances or toxins that are present in the ground where farmers have cultivated it.
If CBD has been derived from a plant that was farmed in well-treated and rich soil, it is likely to be of high purity and quality. Nevertheless, if the reverse is true and the plant was grown in an area rich in led or mercury, the extracted oils will feature a high level of toxins. They could ultimately become unsafe for people’s consumption. This once again brings consumers onto the thorny issue of cost, as profit-driven and unscrupulous manufacturers will often source their hemp from the polluted ground in order to undercut more reputable suppliers and slash costs.
On the contrary, compliant and accredited manufacturers will only ever source hemp plants that have been grown in furtive and fertile soil, so that their customers achieve the best possible value. It is also worth noting that farmers in North America are asked to obtain official certification from their respective state department of agriculture. Consequently, this is another guarantee of quality that enables consumers to realise the benefits of CBD oil in the safest possible manner.
The presence of THC in CBD oil should not be ignored
We have already touched on Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which can also be sourced from cannabis plants. This compound refers to the psychoactive agent that is responsible for getting its users “high.” THC still remains a huge source of controversy in modern society. That is why hemp is used exclusively to produce CBD oil as this guarantees that any extracted substances will feature only trace levels of THC and can be utilised to produce safe and saleable supplements.
The fact remains that Tetrahydrocannabinol might be present in CBD oil. However, the failure to process or extract the substance correctly could consequently cause consumers to experience unwanted psychoactive effects. Therefore, while identifying reasonably priced CBD oils that have been produced using the recommended extraction methods that can help consumers avoid such issues, people should still take the proactive approach of reviewing the labelled compounds and noting the exact levels of THC.
As a rule, the optimal level of THC in CBD oil must not exceed 0.2%. Anything under this level is perfectly acceptable and likely to offer exceptional quality. Any CBD oil that features higher levels of THC must be avoided at all costs.
Reputable CBD firms provide third-party lab test results
As a matter of fact, lab results are a necessary step for reputable CBD brands. All CBD items brought to market should have undergone and passed third-party lab tests.
First of all, it is always good to see CBD featured on the list. It will generally be listed as cannabidiol and should be featured in the lab test results. As a general rule, CBD oil will also include a number of additional cannabinoids. The consumers will see the compounds such as CBG, CBC, and CBN listed on the reports. Their absence should also not cause any concerns as the brands rarely provide a full profile through third-party test reports. Lab tests also provide an opportunity to confirm the THC levels in the CBD oil that must be 0.2% or under.
High-quality CBD oil should be free from pesticides and 100% natural. In fact, pesticides could include potentially harmful byproducts. If any pesticides are listed, this is a serious red flag and implies that consumers must refrain from buying the item in question.
Microbes refer to a wide range of tiny organisms, some of which might be beneficial and others not so much. Nevertheless, it is a bad sign for CBD oil to include living organisms. Thus, this is another thing to watch for when reviewing third-party lab reports.
Overall, chemical solvents are the most important compounds to look for in lab reports. If a consumer finds a trace of glycols, including polyethene glycol or propylene glycol, she or he should refrain from using the associated items immediately. These solvents can break down in aldehydes that cause cancer and cause tremendous physical damage over time.
To sum up, lab reports indicate the transparency of each CBD product and its composition. Reviewing the list of verified ingredients is an excellent starting point, for instance, while the active cannabinoid profile of an item will identify the levels of specific elements included within. As we have already touched on, consumers will need to review the pesticide results and microbiology too, taking care to verify the levels of potential toxins and measuring them against the industry’s acceptable standards. Similarly, it is advised to be sure to check that there are no metal elements or toxins included in the CBD product, as this could raise significant health risks over a period of time.
The Bottom Line
As we can see, the extraction and manufacturing processes associated with CBD oil are extremely demanding as they can have a significant impact on the quality of the final product as well as human health and wellbeing. Similarly, the source of the CBD oil will also influence the quality so it is crucial that consumers review individual products in detail before making an informed decision.
Nowadays, the exponential and rapid growth of the CBD market has increased the risk posed by profit-driven and unscrupulous manufacturers. Individuals are advised to be vigilant against it from a consumer standpoint, especially if they want to ripe the full benefits of CBD oil without compromising their mental and physical wellbeing.
Verified by a Healthcare Professional
Anastasiia Myronenko is a Medical Physicist actively practicing in one of the leading cancer centers in Kyiv, Ukraine. She received her master’s degree in Medical Physics at Karazin Kharkiv National University and completed Biological Physics internship at GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, Germany. Anastasiia Myronenko specializes in radiation therapy and is a fellow of Ukrainian Association of Medical Physicists.
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