More than two decades of studies suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) has few side effects and is safe for most of us to consume. But, as with any product you consume, you should be aware of any known or potential drawbacks.
Weighing what we know
A 1986 study reported in the International Journal of Neuroscience administered oral doses of CBD ranging from 100mg to 600 mg a day to five patients with involuntary muscle-movement disorders. Specific benefits were observed. But the study also revealed mild side effects including lowered blood pressure, dry mouth, light-headedness, psychomotor slowing and sedation. CBD doses over 300 mg a day seemed to aggravate the Parkinson’s symptoms of two of the patients. (Interestingly, a separate paper published in 2014 described how CBD improved the lives of Parkinson’s patients.) Studies also suggest that CBD may interfere with the liver’s process of metabolizing certain medications. You’ve heard about not consuming grapefruit while taking medications to control cholesterol? Grapefruit and large doses of CBD have a similar effect on the liver enzyme responsible for metabolizing certain medications. This isn’t new-age divination, it’s science, so talk to your doctor. Also, there are cannabinoid receptors in our salivary glands that, with some users, are inhibited by CBD, causing a dry sensation, often called “cotton mouth.”
CBD can enhance or inhibit meds
Studies reported in National Institutes of Health documents focused on non-psychoactive CBD produced from Cannabis sativa, rather than CBD derived from industrial hemp, which is where our products originate. It was found that CBD did have beneficial effects in reducing the severity of seizures in subjects with refractory epilepsy, reducing HIV-associated neuropathy pain and reducing spasms associated with multiple sclerosis. It was observed that CBD did have impact on the effects of certain drugs. For example, the anticonvulsant effects of CBD are enhanced with phenytoin (Dilantin) or phenobarbital, but decreased with other sedatives and anticonvulsants such as chlordiazepoxide, clonazepam, trimethadione, and ethosuximide. So CBD has the potential for both negative and positive side effects along with its benefits. Again, discussion with your medical professional should be part of any regime that includes CBD alongside other regular medications you may be taking.
Typical dose is lower than lab studies
These studies generally used very high doses of CBD in the laboratory, far higher than the typical CBD consumer would use. Doses of 200mg to 300mg a day appeared to be well-tolerated during studies involving children with certain types of epilepsy. Even at much higher doses in animal and human subjects, CBD is generally considered safe.
Possible adverse reactions that were noted in the high-dose studies include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Dry mouth
- Changes in appetite
What about CBD and alcohol?
It is certainly worth noting, too, that CBD taken in the typical, moderate doses has far fewer reported interactions with drugs and alcohol than most of the FDA-approved pharmaceuticals commonly prescribed for chronic pain and seizure disorders. Combining a prescribed pain-killer with alcohol, for example, can have very serious side-effects, including confusion, unconsciousness, even death. There is no evidence that CBD interacts with alcohol in any significant or dangerous way. In fact, there are cases in which consumption of CBD has decreased the desire for alcohol in some people, possibly due to CBD’s anti-anxiety effects.
CBD and other cannabinoids are non-toxic, with no known fatal overdose levels reported. A U.S Department of Health and Human Services statement says “no signs of toxicity or serious side effects have been observed following chronic administration of cannabidiol (CBD) to healthy volunteers” in a 1980 study. As always, you should consult with your doctor if you are on medication before consuming CBD.