Anyone who has taken pharmaceutical medications has seen the lists that come with the first filled prescription. It explains the many possible side effects that the medication can produce. Most current studies indicate that CBD has almost no significant adverse side effects on the human body, even when taken frequently and in large doses. But there are a variety of possible effects, depending on the person taking it.
A principal reason for this is that the body already contains a naturally occurring endocannabinoid system, with two receptors that control normal functions, CB1 and CB2. CBI receptors, which are primarily found in the brain, affect movement, coordination, appetite, moods, and memory, among other things. They’re the receptors that process THC. CB2 receptors, which deal with inflammation or pain, are mostly found in the immune system. Both receptors are located in multiple locations in the body.
Rather than working against problems in the body, CBD intensifies the body’s own ability to combat physical problems. It boosts the functions of natural biological processes.
Potential Side Effects When Starting CBD Oil
It’s not uncommon for beginners to experience some unwanted side effects when first starting CBD oil. These can include headaches, nausea and a general worsening of symptoms.
This is typically a result of taking too much CBD. Lowering the daily dosage can alleviate these effects. CBD microdosing is a popular method of finding your “sweet spot” dosage that will produce benefits without side effects. It involves starting with very low doses (as little as one drop) and slowly increasing over time as needed.
CBD Research Studies
Clinincal studies examining side effects of CBD oil in treatment have appeared in professional journals in the medical community for over 40 years. They investigate the usefulness and side effects of CBD treatment for a wide variety of problems. These trials have tested CBD’s effectiveness on both human and animal subjects.
A 2017 review of the clinical studies on CBD added findings from more recent investigations to a previous literature review published in 2011. The survey concludes that, generally, all the studies they examined reported a “favorable safety profile of CBD in humans.” While they conclude that use is safe, they also found evidence of some side effects in the surveyed reports.
The three most commonly observed side effects were fatigue, diarrhea, and weight loss or weight gain. The authors point out that while these side effects may occur, CBD actually has a “better side effect profile”—meaning that it has fewer adverse effects on the body—than pharmaceutical drugs.
Fatigue is the most common side effect reported by the authors. However, in the case of weight loss or weight gain, they point out that there are many factors that could affect whether a person gained or lost weight, such as their diet and the individual’s genetic predisposition. Other possible side effects mentioned in the studies they describe include nausea, dry mouth, vomiting, and dizziness.
In 2018, the FDA approved the drug Epidiolex (cannabidiol), a CBD product to treat two rare kinds of early-onset epilepsy, that could be administered to children older than 2 years old. In clinical trials, CBD was found to significantly reduce seizures in patients with these two forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and Dravet syndrome. The FDA report concludes that the benefits of Epidiolex far outweigh the potential damages.
The one particular side effect they found was liver damage. But they also say that the subjects for this study were primarily people with serious health issues, and that possible liver damage is easily avoided with patient education, appropriate dosage, and regular testing to spot potential adverse effects.
Other side effects were also found in some patients in this clinical trial, including irritability, lower appetite, infections, sensitivity issues such as rashes, gastrointestinal problems, problems with breathing, or reduced urination. But as the report notes, the symptoms might have had other causes.
A 2017 CBD report by the World Health Organization cited a more recent, small sample experiment with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome patients who were also taking the prescription drug clobazam. Researchers were able to reduce side effects by cutting the doses of clobazam rather than the doses of CBD. If patients are experiencing side effects, it may not be the CBD itself that is causing them, but other medications taken at the same time.
A paper produced in 2006 reported trials in the anticoagulant properties of cannabinoids. It determined that patients with hemophilia should be cautious of CBD treatments because of issues with blood clotting. Patient with health concerns that require highly specific treatment should always consult a doctor before trying CBD.
The Bottom Line
Side effects are troublesome and regular features of pharmaceutical medications. This is evident in the extensive warning lists that patients receive with the first prescription of a new drug. Many of the drugs prescribed can’t be just discontinued without inflicting harm, and have to be tapered off from.
CBD use, on the other hand, can be started and stopped without any danger. CBD is not considered to be addictive. So if a patient decides to stop taking it, there are no adverse effects other than ending the beneficial qualities of using CBD.
Without exception, clinical trials have shown that CBD has the potential to improve health, and much more research is needed. The National Institute of Health, the World Health Organization, and the scientific press are already on record advocating for CBD use. “Favorable safety profile of CBD in humans” and “better side effect profile,” coming from these respected institutions of the medical establishment, clearly indicate that CBD is safe for most patients, and that any side effects are minimal.