CBD is the latest health craze that’s being touted as a magical elixir for everything from anxiety, depression, acne, pain, insomnia, post-traumatic stress and even cancer. There is naturally a lot of confusion about what it is and how it affects the human body.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of over 100 compounds known as cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant. Unlike the more famous THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is non-psychoactive, and it doesn’t give users the “high” associated with marijuana use.
Like any substance that interacts with the body, CBD has some side effects that every user should understand. This article takes a look at how CBD interacts with the body, its known side effects and whether it’s safe for human consumption.
How does CBD oil work?
CBD oil doesn’t affect the body directly; it interacts with what is known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is involved in regulating a variety of biological processes, including our pain response mechanism, sleep patterns, mood, appetite, fertility, memory and more.
CBD appears to supplement the ECS with cannabinoids that could be deficient. It binds to specific receptors called CB1 and CB2, which the body uses to process cannabinoids it produces naturally.
CB1 receptors are found all over the body but are more abundant in the brain. When these receptors are functioning properly, they seem to help with emotions, movement, pain, mood, thought processes, alertness, etc. CB2 receptors are found in the immune system and they appear to affect pain response, inflammation and the body’s immune response.
Through its interaction with the ECS and these receptors, CBD can help create positive reactions in the body that could offer relief for many different ailments, including inflammation caused by arthritis and psoriasis, chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety disorders, depression, epileptic seizures and more.
Known CBD oil side effects
CBD may not get you high but that doesn’t mean it has no side effects. One concerning side effect is its potential interaction with pharmaceutical drugs. CBD is broken down by an enzyme in the Cytochrome P450 family which is commonly found in the liver. The enzymes in this class account for 70 % to 80 % of all enzymes involved in the metabolism of pharmaceutical drugs.
Low doses of CBD don’t appear to affect cytochrome P450 enzymes but a sufficiently large enough dose could temporarily deactivate them. Inhibiting the action of these enzymes could slow the breakdown of some drugs and reduce their effect on the body. To further complicate matters, repeated use of CBD could enhance the capabilities of P450 enzymes, which would increase the rate at which some drugs are metabolized.
CBD’s drug metabolism problem is not yet well understood, but some researchers believe it could potentially have a negative impact on the metabolism of life-saving drugs that have a narrow therapeutic window, or strong drugs that have serious side effects.
So far, no serious incidents of negative drug interactions involving CBD have been reported but you should consult your doctor as a precautionary measure before taking any CBD products, especially if you’re taking medication to treat a condition.
Other possible side effects that have been reported include dry mouth, low blood pressure, nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, headaches and increased tremors in users with Parkinson’s disease. Some people have also reported diarrhea and changes in appetite.
Drowsiness and dry mouth appear to be the most common side effects, especially when taking high doses. Finding the optimum dosage for your needs will likely take trial and error, so start with a low dose a few times a day and see how it affects your body. Increase your dosage as needed until you find that sweet spot that makes you feel best.
Can you overdose on CBD oil?
CBD is considered safe and non-toxic for humans to consume, even in large quantities.
There were reports in late 2017 of people overdosing on a product labeled “CBD E-Liquid” that was sold in smoke shops in Utah. The people who took the product reported experiencing confusion, loss of consciousness, slurred speech and seizures after ingesting the product. The purported CBD oil was found to contain synthetic cannabinoid compounds and no CBD.
To date, there is no evidence of overdose associated with the use of pure CBD oil.
The Bottom Line
There are no signs of toxicity associated with using CBD. The compound is well-tolerated, even in large doses, and there are no deaths associated with its use. Many of the most common side effects are minor and almost non-existent when taking low to medium doses of CBD spread throughout the day.
CBD’s potential interaction with drugs that are metabolized in the liver may sound alarming but the jury is still out on whether or not this is something CBD users should worry about. That said, you should speak to your doctor before mixing CBD products with any medication.