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CBD Side Effects and Precautions For Health

  • 3 min read

doctor talking to patient

By John Wood

The following are three reasons many people are very comfortable taking CBD:

  • It poses an extremely low risk of addiction. Unlike alcohol and cigarettes, people do not get addicted to CBD.
  • It’s nearly impossible to overdose.
  • CBD is a natural substance. No deaths have ever been attributed to taking too much CBD. It’s largely nontoxic and has limited side effects.

But let’s dig a little deeper into the side effects commonly associated with CBD and analyze the potential impact they may have for you:

CBD and dry mouth. In a September 2019 article published on MSN.com, the author refers to a survey that was done with 1,500 people; 12 percent of the people who responded said they experienced dry mouth after using CBD. While this is not a huge percentage, if you do experience dry mouth it can be easily remedied by drinking water.

CBD and fatigue. While many websites list fatigue as a side effect of CBD, more study is needed to determine if this is true. CBD does not sedate the body as it does not have any psychoactive properties, so it follows that it should not result in fatigue. It’s the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that has psychoactive properties which can make you tired. And while CBD does have trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3 percent), it’s not enough to cause you to be fatigued. Of course, on the surface, this would seem to fly in the face of the claim that CBD promotes healthy, restful sleep. But that’s not the case: It doesn’t cause sedation, but it does stimulate the endocannabinoid system in a way that promotes a healthier sleep cycle. 

CBD and appetite. A running gag used in movies about marijuana smokers is that they are susceptible to “the munchies.” This is true due to THC. Many CBD users claim that CBD has the opposite effect. The idea is that THC activates the CB1 receptors in the body, which stimulates the appetite. And CBD, while it doesn’t deactivate the CB1 receptors, influences other molecules to block them. There are studies on rats that indicate this to be true, but there have been no studies done on human beings to prove it to be true. 

CBD and blood pressure. Studies have shown that large doses of CBD may result in a minor lowering of blood pressure. So, with high blood pressure being known as “the silent killer,” what’s the problem? There are people who already suffer from low blood pressure (or are taking medication for low blood pressure), which is why it’s always best to consult a doctor before taking CBD. (Note: A minor drop in blood pressure may result in you feeling lightheaded, which can be alleviated by drinking coffee.)

CBD and diarrhea. There’s a common misconception that CBD may cause diarrhea. But here’s the thing: If you experience diarrhea by taking CBD, chances are it’s not the CBD extract itself; it’s more likely because the other ingredients in the bottle are substandard.

In an article published on popsugar.com, Dr. Kenneth Brown, a board-certified gastroenterologist and doctor of internal medicine from Plano Texas, says, "In my practice, when someone has gastrointestinal issues with CBD, we start with the product, because many times that may be a reason they are feeling sick. Just like all other health supplements, the quality and the source of CBD oil make all the difference."

This finding emphasizes the importance of buying high-quality CBD that is manufactured using the highest standards. 

CBD and Pregnancy. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding because there isn’t enough research available on either scenario, you should not use CBD just to be on the safe side. 

In 2017, the World Health Association released a report that concluded: “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential. … To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

This is extremely encouraging for CBD users. Of course, how one person reacts to CBD is different from the next person and different doses have different effects. That said, if you have a sound dosage strategy (avoid megadoses, and start with a small amount, then move up as required), the side effects you experience should be limited.

The biggest issue with CBD is how it interacts with the other medications. If you take any medications (including birth control), consult with a doctor or a health practitioner knowledgeable in CBD before taking it.