Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Is CBD Bad For You?

Also Known As: Cannabidiol



Short answer

CBD is considered safe for most people and can aid with issues like pain, anxiety, and certain neurological disorders. However, it can cause side effects like dry mouth, dizziness, and gastrointestinal discomfort. It can also interact with medications and isn't fully regulated, so choose products carefully and consult a healthcare provider before use.



Long answer

Understanding CBD: Origins and Uses

Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is a compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant, which includes both marijuana and hemp varieties. Unlike its more famous relative, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not produce a "high" or intoxication. This is due to the fact that these two compounds interact with different receptors in the brain and body. THC binds with the CB1 receptor typically associated with feelings of euphoria, while CBD is thought to influence other receptors that might affect pain and inflammation.

CBD is extracted from cannabis strains that have low THC levels, especially from hemp, which is legally required to contain less than 0.3% THC by dry weight in the United States following the Farm Bill of 2018. This has led to widespread legality and availability of CBD products across many states and countries, often being sold as an over-the-counter supplement.

The uses of CBD are as diverse as the reasons individuals turn to it. Here's a brief rundown of common applications:

  • Relief from Chronic Pain: Studies, such as those published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggest that CBD might help reduce inflammation and pain-related behaviors without causing dependency or side effects associated with traditional pain medications.
  • Reducing Anxiety and Depression: A 2019 study published in The Permanente Journal noted CBD's potential to impact serotonin receptors in the brain, which could explain its reported calming effects on anxiety and its capacity to improve mood.
  • Alleviating Cancer-Related Symptoms: Some research, including a study from the European Journal of Pain, provides initial evidence that CBD might help with cancer symptoms and treatment side effects, such as nausea and pain.
  • Neuroprotection: Notable research, including that by the American Society for Clinical Investigation, points to the possibility of CBD being beneficial in neurological disorders like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, owing to its action on endocannabinoid system and other brain signaling systems.
  • Skin Health: Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD-infused topicals are being researched for their efficacy in treating skin conditions like acne, as noted in a study from The Journal of Clinical Investigation.
  • Heart Health: Some emerging research, such as that published in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, suggests CBD could aid in lowering high blood pressure and improving heart health, potentially due to its anxiety-reducing properties.

However, it's crucial to emphasize that while these uses are promising, the definitive long-term research is still needed in many cases. The FDA has only approved one pure CBD product, Epidiolex, for the treatment of certain forms of epilepsy. The majority of other CBD products you find on the market are not regulated or approved by the FDA, placing the responsibility on consumers to research the quality and safety of the products they consume.

It's also important to acknowledge that the way CBD is used varies widely. It can be found in oils, edibles, topicals, and capsules, each form potentially affecting its efficacy and bioavailability. For instance, CBD in an edible form might be subject to metabolism in the digestive system, while sublingual tinctures may offer more direct absorption into the bloodstream.

To navigate the complex landscape of CBD and its uses, individuals should look for products that provide transparency about their sourcing, manufacturing, and lab testing. Consequently, seeking advice from a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement, particularly one with such varied applications as CBD, is always recommended.

Potential Side Effects of CBD Consumption

Cannabidiol (CBD) has become a popular natural remedy for various health issues. Its rise in popularity is largely due to its association with beneficial health outcomes without the psychoactive effects commonly associated with marijuana. CBD can be consumed in several forms, including oils, capsules, creams, edibles, and more. However, as with any supplement, it’s crucial to understand that CBD is not free from potential side effects.

While CBD is generally well-tolerated by most individuals, there have been reports and studies indicating several possible side effects, which are critical for consumers to be aware of:

  • Dry Mouth: Often referred to as "cottonmouth," dry mouth has been reported by some users of CBD. It is believed that CBD can inhibit the secretion of saliva, leading to a feeling of dryness within the mouth.
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness: Some individuals may experience a drop in blood pressure after consuming CBD, leading to feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness. This side effect may be particularly apparent in users taking higher doses.
  • Gastrointestinal Discomfort: CBD might cause digestive upset, such as diarrhea or a change in appetite. These effects may stem from the substance itself or from additives in CBD products.
  • Changes in Mood: Although CBD is touted for its potential to alleviate anxiety and depression, some users have reported feeling irritable or uneasy after taking CBD.
  • Drowsiness or Fatigue: While some utilize CBD to aid in sleep, unintended drowsiness during daytime use can be an unwelcome side effect, particularly if the user needs to drive or operate heavy machinery.

It's essential to note that the occurrence and intensity of these side effects can vary based on several factors, including the individual's metabolism, the dosage of CBD taken, and the form of CBD used. It’s also necessary to consider that the long-term side effects of CBD are not yet fully understood due to the relative novelty of its widespread use and the need for more comprehensive studies.

One of the most-cited pieces of research addressing the safety and side effects of CBD is a 2017 review published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. According to the study, the most common side effects include tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite/weight. However, the authors also suggest that these effects are generally mild and that CBD is generally considered safe.

In certain circumstances, CBD can also interact with other medications. For instance, it has been shown that CBD is a potent inhibitor of the enzyme CYP3A4, which can affect how drugs are metabolized in the body. This is why individuals taking prescription medications should consult a healthcare professional before integrating CBD into their regimen.

Lastly, it's important to highlight that the quality of the CBD product can also play a significant role in potential side effects. The supplement industry is still largely unregulated, especially concerning CBD products. This means consumers might unintentionally purchase products with inaccurate labeling, varying doses, or even contaminants. This reality underscores the importance of seeking out reputable sources and high-quality products tested by third-party laboratories to minimize the risk of adverse reactions stemming from low-grade or impure CBD.

CBD's Interaction with Medications and Health Conditions

CBD, or cannabidiol, has been riding a wave of popularity as both a health supplement and a potential therapy for a variety of conditions. However, one crucial aspect that individuals must consider before incorporating CBD into their regimen is its interaction with other medications and underlying health conditions. Understanding these interactions is essential, as CBD can affect how the body metabolizes numerous drugs, which may lead to altered therapeutic effects or increased side effects.

One of the key systems involved in this process is the cytochrome P450 enzyme system. This group of enzymes is responsible for metabolizing many of the pharmaceuticals we consume. CBD can inhibit the P450 system's ability to process certain drugs, leading to a higher concentration of the drug in the bloodstream and a longer duration of action, which could increase the risk of adverse effects or toxicity.

Here's a non-exhaustive list of medication categories that may interact with CBD:

  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Beta-blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Statins
  • HIV antivirals
  • Immune modulators

When it comes to health conditions, it's imperative to consult with a healthcare provider before using CBD, particularly for those with liver disease. CBD is metabolized in the liver, and in high doses, it could potentially exacerbate liver impairment. A study published in the journal "Molecules" found that CBD might lead to alterations in liver enzymes, signaling liver stress when taken in high concentrations.

In addition, individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise caution, as CBD has the potential to interact with medications like blood thinners and could affect heart rate and blood pressure. While some studies suggest that CBD has cardioprotective properties, such as reducing high blood pressure, these findings are not definitive and should be balanced with awareness about possible drug interactions.

For those considering CBD for mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, balancing the potential benefits with the interaction with psychiatric medications is vital. Some research, including a study in the "Journal of Clinical Psychology," indicates CBD's promise for managing certain symptoms, but combining CBD with other psychotropic medications without medical supervision can lead to unpredictable outcomes.

Finally, the effects of CBD on women who are pregnant or breastfeeding remain largely unknown, with research being scarce and inconclusive. The FDA cautions against the use of CBD in these populations due to concerns about development impacts on the fetus or breastfed infants.

In summary, while CBD may offer therapeutic potential for a range of conditions, it's critical to consider its potential interactions with medications and health conditions. Speaking with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement—including CBD—cannot be overstressed, particularly for those with pre-existing health issues or on medications where CBD could potentially alter their effects or metabolism.

The Role of THC in CBD Products: Legal and Health Aspects

When wading through the swamp of information surrounding Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating compound found in the cannabis plant, it is crucial to address the elephant in the room: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the psychoactive sibling of CBD, often stigmatized due to its mind-altering effects. Understanding the role of THC in CBD products is not only a legal necessity but also vital for your health and safety.

Legal Thresholds

In the United States, federal law dictates that CBD products derived from hemp must contain no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. This threshold was established by the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp at the federal level. However, legality can vary at the state level, with some states having more restrictive laws on THC content in CBD products. Consumers must stay abreast of their local state laws to avoid legal complications.

Entourage Effect: Myth or Reality?

A frequently discussed topic is the 'entourage effect'—the proposition that CBD works better with a little help from its friend THC. Some research suggests that the presence of THC, even in trace amounts, can enhance the therapeutic effects of CBD. However, the science is not conclusive, and more studies are needed to fully understand this synergistic relationship. The placebo effect cannot be ruled out in anecdotal claims of enhanced efficacy.

THC Sensitivity and Drug Testing Concerns

While 0.3% THC might sound negligible, it's not zero— and for some, that's problematic. Individuals with THC sensitivity could experience adverse effects, such as mild psychoactive effects or anxiety, even from these trace amounts. Furthermore, routine drug tests, commonly used by employers, typically screen for THC, not CBD. Regular consumption of CBD products containing the legal limit of THC could potentially lead to a positive drug test, which can have serious legal and occupational consequences.

Health Risks Associated with THC

Consuming THC is not without its risks. Side effects of THC can include short-term memory impairment, altered mental state, increased heart rate, coordination problems, dry mouth, and red eyes. More serious side effects could manifest in vulnerable populations, such as those with a predisposition to mental health disorders, leading to heightened anxiety or psychosis.

Regulatory Oversight and Product Quality

Regulatory oversight of CBD products, including their THC content, is still lacking, creating a "buyer beware" market. Recent studies have found significant discrepancies between the THC content labeled on CBD products and the actual content verified by laboratory testing. This inconsistency poses a significant risk to consumers who rely on accurate labeling to make informed health decisions or to avoid legal ramifications.

Choosing the Right Product

To mitigate these risks, it's imperative for consumers to select high-quality CBD products from reputable sources that provide third-party lab results. Opt for CBD isolates or broad-spectrum CBD products, which are designed to be free of THC, if avoiding THC is a personal health goal or legal necessity.

In summary, while THC plays a complex role in CBD products, addressing both legal and health aspects ensures that consumers can make informed choices. Scrutinizing the source, understanding potential health implications, and considering the legal landscape are crucial steps in navigating the world of CBD with confidence.

Quality Control Issues in the Unregulated CBD Market

An emerging health concern that demands immediate attention in the fast-growing CBD industry is the dire state of quality control. With the rise of CBD's popularity comes a market saturated with products of varying purity and potency, largely due to the lack of standardized regulatory oversight. To dissect this, we must dive into the factors contributing to quality control problems within the CBD sphere:

  • Lack of FDA Regulation: As of my knowledge cutoff date in early 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not established formal guidelines for the production and sale of CBD products. This absence of regulatory framework gives way to inconsistency in product quality.
  • Third-Party Testing: The responsibility often falls on manufacturers to seek third-party testing to validate their product’s purity and potency. However, without mandated standards, testing procedures, and reporting vary wildly, leaving gaping holes in consumer protection and product reliability.
  • Labeling inaccuracies: Numerous studies point to the troubling prevalence of incorrect labeling. A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that nearly 70% of CBD products sold online were mislabeled, containing significantly more or less CBD than advertised, and in some cases, illegal levels of THC.
  • Contaminants and Adulterants: Lack of control makes the market a breeding ground for products tainted with pesticides, heavy metals, and other harmful contaminants. An investigation can unveil alarming levels of contaminants that could pose significant health risks.
  • Source Quality: The origin of the hemp plant from which CBD is extracted heavily influences the final product quality. Sub-par cultivation practices and poor plant genetics result in an inferior extract that could contain harmful substances or inadequate cannabinoid profiles, thereby affecting efficacy and safety.

Unfortunately, these issues are just the tip of the iceberg. They underscore the urgent need for standardized regulations and consistent quality checks. Transparency in the CBD industry is crucial, not just a nice-to-have. Without it, consumers are navigating a minefield that may cause more harm than good. Clear labeling, rigorous testing, and well-informed manufacturing practices must be the industry's pillars if CBD products are to be considered safe and effective. Until such standards are universally adopted, consumers must remain vigilant, doing their due diligence to verify the integrity of their CBD sources.

Experts agree that until there is a system of stringent regulations, the onus is on the consumer to research CBD products carefully. It’s recommended to buy only from reputable suppliers that offer full transparency on product testing by accredited third-party laboratories and to be wary of lofty claims that sound too good to be true. As a health-conscious consumer, it's imperative to sift through the fog of an unregulated market with an analytical eye, prioritizing products that meet rigorous quality standards and seeking out brands that are open about their production processes.

Long-Term Use: What We Know from Current Research

When unraveling the complexities of CBD (cannabidiol) and its long-term effects on human health, it's imperative that we rely on empirical evidence and current scientific research. CBD has surged in popularity as a therapeutic compound, claiming benefits ranging from pain relief to anxiety reduction. However, with its relatively recent entry into the mainstream, the long-term impacts of CBD use are still under investigation. Let's delve into what current research tells us about sustained CBD consumption.

Emerging Evidence: A Mixed Bag

Recent studies have shed some light on the potential effects of long-term CBD use, but the evidence is far from conclusive. A review of existing literature suggests that chronic use is generally well-tolerated in humans, with most studies reporting only mild to moderate side effects. However, this research is in its infancy and often relies on self-reporting, which can be unreliable.

Clinical Trial Insights

Clinical trials provide a gold standard for medical research, and ongoing trials are crucial for understanding long-term effects. A landmark study of the prescription CBD product, Epidiolex (approved for the treatment of certain forms of epilepsy), offers some of the best insights into the safety profile of CBD over extended periods. While the medication is deemed safe within the context of its prescribed use, side effects such as liver function changes have been noted, requiring further investigation and monitoring.

Side Effects: Knowns and Unknowns

Documented side effects from various studies on long-term CBD use include fatigue, changes in appetite, and gastrointestinal issues. There's also concern about potential interactions with other medications and cumulative effects over time. However, the unknowns remain significant. For instance, the impact of CBD on hormonal balance, cell viability, or its psychoactive potential over prolonged periods is not yet fully understood.

Population-Specific Concerns

While many adults report only mild side effects from long-term CBD use, population-specific concerns exist. Notably, the long-term effects of CBD on children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and those with preexisting conditions are not well-documented, and caution is advised when recommending CBD to these groups.

Gaps in Research: A Call for Comprehensive Studies

The call for comprehensive and longitudinal studies is loud and clear. Rigorous research should assess the cumulative effects of CBD across diverse populations and conditions. Additionally, the impact of different modes of consumption—whether inhaled, ingested, or applied topically—has yet to be fully explored in the long-term context.

In summary, while current research indicates potential for CBD to be well-tolerated over the long term, there's an undeniable need for more detailed and expansive research. The key takeaway for users and health professionals alike is to approach long-term CBD use with a circumspect view, recognizing both the potential benefits and the considerable gaps in our understanding of its extended use.

Frequently asked questions

Some individuals may combine CBD with vitamins or other supplements in an effort to enhance overall well-being. However, there is no robust scientific evidence to suggest that combining CBD with other supplements provides added benefits. It is important to understand potential interactions between CBD and other supplements and to consult a healthcare provider before combining them to ensure safety and efficacy.

CBD isolate may reduce anxiety by interacting with the body's endocannabinoid system, particularly the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are found in the central and peripheral nervous systems, respectively. It's thought to alter serotonin signals. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mental health; low serotonin levels are associated with anxiety. By influencing these receptors, CBD isolate could potentially enhance serotonin activity, leading to reduced anxiety. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects.

As of now, CBD has not been shown to be addictive, and it does not appear to lead to psychological dependence. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a 'high' or euphoric effect, which lowers the risk of dependence associated with psychoactive substances. However, individuals may become habituated to the routine of using CBD, especially if they believe it aids in managing certain symptoms.

While limited research has been conducted on CBD's impact on hormone levels, some studies suggest potential influences due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating numerous physiological processes, including hormone production and secretion. However, current evidence is not definitive, and more research is necessary to determine CBD's effects on hormones over both the short and long term.

Vaping CBD may pose additional risks due to the inhalation of vaporized substances, which can include thinning agents or other additives that may be harmful when heated and inhaled. Product purity is a concern across all forms of CBD consumption, and the purity and safety of vaping liquids are just as important to consider as those for edible or topical products. Regardless of the method, consumers should look for products with verified third-party lab testing.

Ask a question about CBD and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • dry mouth
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • gastrointestinal discomfort
  • changes in mood
  • drowsiness or fatigue

Possible long-term side effects

  • potential liver impairment
  • possible interactions with medications
  • hormonal balance impacts
  • cell viability concerns

Commonly found in

  • oils
  • edibles
  • topicals
  • capsules

Ingredients to be aware of


  • chronic pain relief
  • reduced anxiety and depression
  • alleviates cancer-related symptoms
  • neuroprotective
  • skin health improvement
  • heart health aid

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Joey Conners
Published on: 11-29-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Joey Conners
Published on: 11-29-2023

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