Are There Side Effects to CBD? A Concise Exploration of Potential Risks

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has gained significant popularity over the past few years due to its potential therapeutic benefits. As a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant, many people have turned to CBD products to help treat a variety of health issues and improve their overall well-being. However, the question arises: are there any side effects to using CBD?

While CBD is generally considered safe, it’s essential to understand that some individuals may experience side effects. These side effects can vary and typically depend on factors such as the individual’s body chemistry, the dosage, and the specific CBD product being used. By becoming familiar with the potential side effects of CBD and how to manage them, users can make informed decisions about incorporating CBD into their daily routines.

Key Takeaways

  • CBD is generally considered safe, but individuals may experience varying side effects based on factors such as dosage and product type.
  • Users should approach CBD usage carefully, paying attention to their body’s reactions and adjusting the dosage accordingly.
  • It’s essential to stay updated on the ongoing research and regulatory considerations regarding CBD for informed consumption and product choices.

Understanding CBD

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant. It is one of the numerous chemical compounds known as cannabinoids that are present in the plant. CBD has gained popularity in recent years due to its potential therapeutic benefits and non-psychoactive properties. It is known to help with conditions such as anxiety, epilepsy, and pain relief.

Difference Between CBD and THC

CBD is often compared to another well-known cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While both compounds are found in the Cannabis sativa plant, they have distinct properties. THC is the psychoactive compound responsible for the “high” users experience when consuming marijuana, whereas CBD is non-psychoactive. Moreover, CBD is believed to counteract some of the negative effects of THC, such as anxiety and paranoia.

Legal Status of CBD

The legal status of CBD varies across countries and within the United States. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, CBD is legal in many states under certain conditions, such as when it is derived from hemp and contains low levels of THC. However, marijuana-derived CBD remains illegal under federal law, as it is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

CBD Sources: Hemp vs. Marijuana

CBD can be derived from both hemp and marijuana, which are both varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant. The main difference between the two sources lies in the concentration of THC. Hemp is defined by law as a variety of cannabis containing no more than 0.3% THC, while marijuana generally has higher levels of THC. CBD products sourced from hemp are more likely to be legal and have lower risks of psychoactive effects due to the minimal presence of THC.

Potential Side Effects of CBD

Common Side Effects

CBD is generally well-tolerated, but it can still cause some side effects in certain individuals. Some of the most common side effects include drowsiness, fatigue, and nausea. Drowsiness and sedation are often considered a benefit for some people; however, they can be problematic for others. For example, if someone is taking other sedating medications, the effects of CBD might be too strong 1. Gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and changes in appetite have also been observed in some users 2.

Long-Term Risks and Considerations

Though CBD is widely used for its therapeutic benefits, long-term risks and considerations need further research. There is a potential for liver damage as it has been observed in some studies, although these cases are rare. It is crucial for users to monitor their liver enzyme levels if they are consuming high doses of CBD or have pre-existing liver conditions 3. Additionally, CBD might affect weight and mood in some individuals. More research is required to fully understand the long-term impacts of CBD usage and its effects on different aspects of health 4.

Interactions with Medications

CBD has the potential to interact with certain medications. One of the primary concerns is that CBD may interfere with the metabolism of medications in the liver. This can lead to altered drug concentrations in the body and possibly cause adverse effects 5. Individuals taking other medications should consult their healthcare professional before using CBD, as it may affect the efficacy of the medications they are taking 6.

In conclusion, while CBD is generally well-tolerated, there are potential side effects and interactions to consider. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting or adjusting any CBD regimen.

CBD Usage and Dosage

Recommended Dosages

CBD dosages can vary depending on the individual and the specific reason for using it. Generally, oils, gummies, and capsules are common forms that CBD is available in. It is recommended to start with a low dosage and gradually increase as needed. In most cases, people begin with 20 to 40 milligrams per day. Observe the effects and adjust the dosage accordingly. Remember that individual needs and responses to CBD may differ.

How to Take CBD

CBD can be consumed in several forms, such as:

  1. Oils and tinctures: These can be placed under the tongue using a dropper, or mixed with food and drinks.
  2. Capsules and pills: Swallowed like any other pill, these provide a convenient way to take a consistent dosage.
  3. Gummies and edibles: These are consumed orally and come in various flavors and shapes.
  4. Creams, lotions, and balms: Applied topically to the skin, these formulations are often used for localized pain relief or skin irritation.
  5. Sprays: Sprayed directly into the mouth, these provide a quick and easily absorbed method for consuming CBD.

When to Consult a Doctor

While CBD is typically considered safe, there are potential side effects, such as drowsiness, gastrointestinal issues, and dry mouth. It is essential to consult a doctor if any of the following situations apply:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You are taking medications that may interact with CBD
  • You have a pre-existing medical condition
  • You experience any side effects or adverse reactions to CBD

In conclusion, knowing the appropriate CBD dosage depends on an individual’s needs and preferences. Start low, monitor the effects, and consult a doctor when necessary.

Therapeutic Benefits and Research

CBD in Treating Epilepsy

CBD has been found to be effective in the treatment of certain types of epilepsy, particularly Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. The FDA has approved a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex to treat these conditions. Patients suffering from these epilepsy syndromes have shown a significant reduction in the frequency of seizures while taking this medication. It is important to note that the CBD used in this treatment is specifically formulated and differs from the CBD products available in stores.

Potential Benefits for Anxiety and Stress

Preliminary research has shown promising results for the use of CBD in treating anxiety and stress. Some studies suggest that CBD may help to reduce symptoms of anxiety, such as sleepiness, and improve overall mood. A study on the use of CBD among Canadian patients found improvement in pain, anxiety, and depression symptoms for patients with moderate to severe symptoms. However, it is necessary to conduct more rigorous research to understand the full potential of CBD in treating these conditions.

Research on Chronic Pain and Other Conditions

CBD has been investigated for its potential in treating a variety of health conditions, including chronic pain and multiple sclerosis. Some studies have observed that CBD could provide relief from chronic pain by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. While there have been some positive findings, the therapeutic efficacy of CBD for many health conditions such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia is still lacking rigorous, controlled evidence.

Moreover, the use of CBD products comes with potential concerns like adverse effects (e.g., liver toxicity) and drug-drug interactions. Another issue of concern is the lack of sufficient regulatory oversight of retail CBD products, which might lead to inconsistencies in the purity and dosage.

In conclusion, CBD has shown potential in treating some medical disorders, but the body of research is still limited. It is essential for future research to focus on understanding the full spectrum of therapeutic uses and potential side effects of CBD.

Safety and Regulatory Considerations

FDA Regulations on CBD

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety of cannabidiol (CBD) products. Currently, the FDA has only approved one CBD-based medication, Epidiolex, for the treatment of certain types of seizures. While other CBD products are available on the market, their safety and effectiveness have not been thoroughly evaluated by the FDA.

The FDA is actively working to learn more about the safety of CBD products, specifically:

  • Purity: The presence of contaminants, such as pesticides, can pose a risk to consumers.
  • Dosing: Accurate and consistent dosing is paramount to ensure the safe use of CBD products.
  • Interactions: CBD has the potential to interact with other medications, which could lead to harmful side effects.

Product Labeling and Purity

Consumers should be cautious when purchasing CBD products because not all of them are accurately labeled. There is a potential for CBD products to be contaminated with harmful ingredients, including pesticides, heavy metals, or even synthetic cannabinoids. To ensure the safety and purity of CBD products, the FDA encourages manufacturers to follow proper manufacturing practices, and consumers should look for products that have undergone third-party testing for quality and safety.

CBD Use in Vulnerable Populations

The safety of CBD use in vulnerable populations, such as pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, and the elderly, is a significant concern. Although CBD is generally well-tolerated, there is currently limited data available. As a result, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional before using CBD in these circumstances:

  • Pregnancy: The effects of CBD on developing fetuses are not well understood. Pregnant women should be cautious when considering CBD use.
  • Breastfeeding: There is limited information on the safety of CBD use during breastfeeding, and its impact on breast milk and infant development is not well-established.
  • Children: CBD is an active ingredient in the FDA-approved drug Epidiolex, which treats specific seizure disorders. However, using CBD in children for other conditions or without medical supervision is not recommended.
  • Elderly: Older adults may be more susceptible to potential side effects or drug interactions with CBD. Careful monitoring and consultation with a healthcare professional are advised.


  1. Verywellmind: Common CBD Side Effects
  2. MyDosage: The 5 Most Common Side Effects of CBD
  3. SAMHSA: CBD Potential Harm, Side Effects, and Unknowns
  4. CDC: CBD: What You Need to Know
  5. WebMD: CBD Safety and Side Effects
  6. Verywellhealth: CBD and Drug Interactions