Although CBD is well-tolerated by the vast majority of users, as with most supplements, some people may experience mild side-effects. There are also certain groups of people advised not to take CBD, or only to do so under their physician’s guidance.
In this five minute guide, we’ll provide a brief history of CBD before diving into the evidence of side effects from high-dose clinical trials and the potential dangers of taking counterfeit CBD products.
We’ll also discuss the contraindications revealed by preliminary scientific research relating to several conditions and situations that CBD use could effect.
By the end of this article, you’ll have gained knowledge around who shouldn’t take CBD oil, how CBD oil could react with other medications, and why it’s vital to ensure that you purchase a genuine and safe CBD product.
CBD: A Brief History
The origins of Cannabidiol (CBD) can be traced as far back as the end of the first ice age. We can tell from archeological studies that Cannabis Sativa, the source plant for CBD, was one of the first crops planted by our ancestors.
To dig a little deeper, Carl Sagan stated that Cannabis could well have been the world’s first agricultural crop, helping to develop civilization itself. If we study the timelines carefully, it’s evident that cannabis plants have been an integral part of human culture for thousands of years.
Food and Materials
Throughout history, cannabis plants have been praised for their versatility. Cannabis seeds and oil were used by the Chinese as long ago as 6,000 BCE. Fast forward 2000 years, and you’ll find evidence that textiles crafted from hemp plants were utilized in Turkestan and China.
The influence of the hemp plant spread across the world. By the year 850AD, the Vikings were transporting hemp seeds and ropes to Iceland. Fifty years later, Arabs started to make paper from hemp materials. As recently as the year 1000, Italian sailors were using hemp ropes to navigate the oceans.
When we think of today’s restrictions on growing Cannabis, it’s hard to believe that just 500 years ago, it was illegal not to cultivate hemp in Virginia. The plant was so famous for industrial use; it became compulsory for farmers to grow hemp.
In the year 1850, Cannabis was added to the U.S. Pharmacopeia, a widely respected compendium of dietary supplements and medicines. That same year, Cannabis was promoted and used across the USA as a medicinal drug that could be bought from general stores and pharmacies up until 1915.
According to the North American Industrial Hemp Council (NAIHC), the cultivation of Cannabis Sativa, for industrial or recreational purposes, has been prohibited in the USA since the mid-1950s.
However, all of this is beginning to change. The global explosion of interest in compounds derived from hemp, such as CBD, has lead to lobbying efforts from farmers and advocates throughout America.
On December 12th, 2019, congress legalized hemp at a federal level as they passed the 2018 Farm Bill. This created a market that’s expected to boom by 2022.
The CBD Industry
During the mid-1990s, the discovery of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) was one of the most significant developments of the last century.
This intricate biological system is involved in several vital aspects of human biology, including stress, pain, mood, temperature, and appetite. The primary purpose of the endocannabinoid system is to regulate and maintain a stable environment inside our bodies at all times.
CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system, activating CB1 and CB2 receptors spread throughout or brain and body. This helps to promote homeostasis (balance) across our neurological, immune, and cardiovascular systems.
Check out our comprehensive guide to the endocannabinoid system and CBD here.
The Side Effects of CBD
In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a critical review report focusing on cannabidiol (CBD). This report stated that CBD might work as a promising treatment for several medical conditions, has a good safety profile, and is low-risk for dependence, abuse, and other public-health related issues. This report has been widely regarded as a ‘green light’ for CBD in the eyes of the world’s largest health advisory board.
As you study the portfolio of scientific articles that reference CBD, it’s hard to find concrete evidence of contraindications or dangerous side effects associated with the compound.
However, with the rise in popularity of CBD oil use, we want to provide you with all the information available regarding possible adverse side effects and scientific evidence.
In the following sections, we’ll explain the various side effects that you could encounter when using CBD, what they mean, and what recent research suggests around taking CBD if you are:
- Trying to conceive
- Taking prescription medications.
- And more….
CBD Oil: The Clinical Evidence
It’s a fact; there is very little definitive clinical evidence related to CBD concerning many of the ailments that people currently use CBD to alleviate.
Perhaps one of the most documented breakthroughs regarding FDA-approved prescription CBD treatment is the introduction of ‘Epidiolex’ to the U.S. medical market. This oral-solution is used to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy, with CBD working as one of the main active ingredients.
However, to collect significant clinical evidence to support FDA-approval, Epidiolex’s manufacturers had to fund clinical research and trials for almost twenty years.
That said, the approval of this drug has opened the doors for the wider global medical community’s acceptance of CBD. With the U.S. medical system structure relying on costly clinical testing, the majority of tests are funded by organizations that plan to patent drugs and profit from their sale.
That leaves us with a vast amount of preliminary scientific evidence discovered via case studies, animal models, and laboratory experiments. Every year, hundreds of studies are published around CBD. This evidence is what helps the industry advance towards more efficient clinical trials.
Currently, there are over 40 CBD-related trials active or recruiting participants for a variety of conditions. The number of tests being undertaken is steadily increasing every year, which could mean that some of CBD’s most promising benefits may be confirmed or denied.
It could be many years before accredited clinical evidence to support CBD’s ability to alleviate certain conditions is published. However, thousands of people supplement with CBD anyway, hoping that they won’t have to wait many years to find out if CBD could be useful for their conditions.
CBD Side Effects: Evidence from High-Dose Clinical Trials
There has been no conclusive evidence to suggest serious side effects from the few clinical trials conducted using CBD.
We need to look back through the vast research funded and conducted for Epidolex research to study long-term results.
Throughout clinical trials for this drug, participants aged between 2 and 18 were administered large doses of CBD for 14 weeks. Each day a dose equivalent to 1,360mg for a 150-pound adult was taken. This dosage is similar to the amount of CBD present in a whole bottle of CBD oil.
The most frequently reported side effects included:
- Decreased appetite
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Altered liver enzymes (more about this below)
Most of the participants’ side effects occurred during the early weeks of the trial when the dosage increased rapidly. Typically, these symptoms subsided once the CBD dosage was stabilized. Therefore, lowering the dose was seen as an effective way to decrease harmful side effects.
If you currently take CBD and have experienced any of these adverse reactions, we recommend lowering your dose or taking a break for a week. If the side effects fail to subside, you may want to try a different type of CBD product.
If you’re taking unusually large doses of CBD, you can access the Epidolex clinical trials document here. This may provide more detailed insights into high-dose CBD side effects and how to decrease their occurrence.
Possible Side Effects from Counterfeit or Poor-Quality CBD Products
When we consider the side-effects in the Epidiolex trials, we must remember that these trials used safe products that contained reliable quantities of CBD.
Therefore, the side effects revealed by the trial could be expected if you’re taking very high doses of an incredibly pure CBD product.
However, due to the lack of regulation for the U.S. supplement industry, there are hundreds of counterfeit and dishonest manufacturers selling CBD products online. If you buy CBD products from these manufacturers, you could experience a range of different side-effects.
In fact, a 2017 survey revealed that after testing a range of publicly available CBD products, just 31% were labeled accurately. We cannot stress enough the importance of sourcing your CBD from a professional company that regularly encourages third-party laboratory testing and organic purity.
Potentially harmful ingredients in ‘CBD Products’ could include:
- Heavy metals, bacteria, molds, and aflatoxins; which are substances that can affect the body in a similar way to pesticides.
- Contaminants such as metal particles and pesticides; These substances can make people very sick and could prove fatal if present in large quantities.
- 5F-ADB: This is usually present in synthetic marijuana products such as ‘Spice’ or ‘K2’ and can cause hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, vomiting, chest pain, and seizures. Large quantities of 5F-ADB can lead to organ failure and death.
- THC: Although some CBD products contain tiny trace amounts of THC, fake products may contain significant amounts. These can cause anxiety and hallucinations.
- Alcohol-based solvent residue: CBD oils that are made with hexane, ethanol, butane, or isopropyl can leave residues that pose a severe health hazard.
- OTC cough medication: Some CBD products sold by haphazard suppliers have been found to contain dextromethorphan. This ingredient is common in OTC cough medications and can cause intense periods of drowsiness.
Failing Drug Tests:
There’s a chance you could fail a drug test if you purchase and consume CBD oils that contain detectable levels of THC or artificial cannabinoids.
Thousands of people are required to take these tests as part of their employment or training contracts. Therefore, you must remember that anything over 0.3% THC content of the total CBD oil extract may be detected in a drug test.
Professionally manufactured CBD products are processed using hemp plants, which could contain small quantities of THC if it’s not removed during the extraction process. If your CBD product contains large amounts of THC, you could notice side effects such as hunger, dry mouth, and mood alterations.
It’s worth considering that the most adverse effects of bogus CBD products could lead to long-term damage to your body that is not immediately apparent.
Therefore, if you’re concerned about the legitimacy of your current CBD products, throw them away. CBD oil is a concentrated plant-based supplement that interacts with your body – so you want it to match the quality of the foods you eat.
CBD Contraindications: Based Upon Preliminary Scientific Research
Even though the WHO has deemed CBD consumption as safe, there is no clear evidence to identify if certain groups of people could suffer adverse effects.
For this reason, we’ve collated the information available from scientific literature to highlight any prevalent warning signs.
You may want to proceed with special consideration when taking CBD if:
You Have Low Blood Pressure
Some studies suggest CBD can contribute towards lowering blood pressure. Although this is good news for people with high blood pressure, it may concern people diagnosed with low B.P.
CBD seems to be most effective at bringing blood pressure levels down during stressful events, and this has been attributed to the supplement’s benefits. However, CBD may decrease resting blood pressure temporarily.
Therefore, if you live with hypertension, we recommend monitoring blood pressure before increasing your CBD dosage or experimenting with new products. Take extra care if you vape CBD products or take large oral doses of CBD.
You Take Prescription Drugs
The body processes prescription drugs in many different ways. Some medicines are less effective once processed, while others interact better after they have been processed. In some instances, CBD occupies enzymes that the body uses to handle pharmaceutical medications.
If you take these medications alongside CBD, their effect on your body could change significantly. Grapefruit works on the same enzymes (Cytochrome p450). Therefore, if your prescription medication comes with a warning against eating grapefruit, speak to a medical professional before starting your CBD supplementation.
Your Immune System is Weak
Although the majority of evidence disproves this, CBD could be harmful to people that live with impaired immune systems. We know that CBD is an immunomodulator, capable of calming a hyperactive immune system.
The concern is that this CBD could cause harm to people that already have weakened immune systems. There is no evidence to back this concern, and in the case of people living with HIV, medical marijuana use does not appear to worsen the condition. That said, we recommend speaking to your doctor if you’re considering CBD use and have a weak immune system.
You Have Liver Complications
Although just a speculative warning, people diagnosed with liver conditions may want to be cautious when taking CBD. When Epidiolex was being trialed, the participants were more likely to have elevated liver enzymes.
However, all of these participants were prescribed additional pharmaceuticals that were proven to cause liver damage. Therefore, it’s unclear whether CBD has a direct effect on the liver, or the pharmaceutical interactions created the raised liver enzymes.
If you suffer from liver problems, it’s worth monitoring your liver enzyme levels when you introduce CBD products into your daily wellness routine.
You’re Currently Trying to Conceive
Although these in no evidence to back up this claim, some regular cannabis users have slightly lower fertility rates compared to non-users. Comprehensive assessments of this data conclude that it’s likely to be caused by THC present in Cannabis rather than CBD. That said, if you are struggling to conceive and using Cannabis or CBD, we recommend speaking to your doctor.
You’re Breastfeeding or Pregnant
When pregnant or breastfeeding, a mother passes on everything to her growing baby. Active molecules present in the mother’s bloodstream can enter her child’s body via breast milk or the placenta.
Tests have proved that cannabinoids can be found in stools and umbilical cords of newborn babies, with low levels of cannabinoids, also detected in the breast milk of recreational cannabis users.
At the time of writing, we don’t know how CBD may affect a developing baby. It’s best practice to minimize any exposure to cannabinoids is you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have recently found out that you are pregnant and currently use CBD, talk to your pediatric physician for advice on continued use.
You’re Looking to Replace Pharmaceutical Medication with CBD
Although we’re relentless CBD advocates here at Avida, we do not advise substituting any prescription medications with CBD unless your physician has approved this transition. This can be dangerous and unsafe, particularly as many drugs require tapering when discontinuing use instead of stopping them suddenly.
You’re Frequently Exposed to Germs
It’s the opinion of some people that CBD’s immune-system relieving capabilities may help germs to slip past our natural defense systems. Scientists have tested this hypothesis by exposing rodents to the bacterium responsible for Legionnaires Disease and measuring how well they fight the infection.
The result: While moderate doses of CBD failed to impair the subject’s immune systems, larger doses weakened their defenses very slightly. For this reason, if you work in a particularly germ-riddled environment, you may benefit from decreasing your CBD dosage.
We hope that this piece offered you a comprehensive guide to some of the side effects that CBD could cause if taken regularly. We want to provide all Avida customers with additional support covering critical topics related to CBD.
If you have any concerns relating to CBD and its contraindications or side effects, we always recommend seeking the advice of a professional medical practitioner. If you suspect that the CBD product you are taking may be counterfeit, throw it away and look for a verified and legitimate manufacturer. Your health and wellbeing is never worth compromising.