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How Safe Is Cannabidiol?

How Safe Is Cannabidiol?

"Is CBD oil safe?" should not be a question that bugs you much, once we've taken a look at the science. This is because research shows that CBD has a positive side effect profile, no record of adverse events, and is, in general, deemed safe.

For the uninitiated—while many may be familiar with medical marijuana, CBD has changed the course of the industry in a spectacular way. It is extracted from exactly the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa L., but CBD, or cannabidiol, boasts of different effects.

Research shows that CBD has a positive side effect profile.

Adverse Events Vs. Side Effects of CBD

First, let's differentiate between the terms "adverse events" and "side effects" as these apply to medicine.

A safe medicine or remedy would not be toxic or harmful to you. If a drug causes adverse events, this refers to a serious reaction that occurs over and above the main effect of the drug. These can be harmful and unsafe, and they should be reported to your physician immediately.

Marijuana is one of the safest plant-based remedies to use and hasn't conclusively been linked with any adverse events so far. It does have a high potential for abuse, but then, so do alcohol, most opioids, and many painkillers. When abused, the latter is also associated with much more severe side effects than cannabis, and yet a lot of them are available over the counter.

RELATED: All About CBD and Alcohol

Review of the data pertaining to long-term marijuana use is inconclusive with regard to adverse events. Also, its increased use is not shown to be associated with a parallel increase in negative side effects. [1]

Side effects, on the other hand, refer to secondary, unwanted symptoms you could experience upon using a medicine or remedy. Most remedies and medicine are still considered safe to use, even though they may present side effects. These are often self-correcting and mild, but your physician will advise you to stop taking a medicine if the side effects are too severe.

Are marijuana and CBD oil safe, though, and what are the side effects? These questions are valid, so read on...

Are marijuana and CBD oil safe, and what are the side effects?

RELATED: The Side Effects of Cannabidiol You Probably Didn't Know

Is CBD Oil Safe Compared to THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD are some of the most prolific cannabinoids found in Cannabis sativa L.. or marijuana. Although depending on the strain, there are upwards of 80 other known cannabinoids, which are found in varying levels and mixtures. THC is the compound in marijuana that gives the user a high.

For most people, this high is experienced as euphoria and deep relaxation. However, especially in high doses, THC-heavy preparations or marijuana can cause schizophrenia, paranoia, and anxiety in some users.

This is where newer strains of marijuana have started to change the perspective on the controversial plant—they are high in CBD. Unlike its infamous sister THC, CBD doesn’t cause any of the problematic side effects associated with some strains of marijuana. [2]

This has opened the doors to far more medicinal applications than previously thought. But many people are still rightfully wondering—is CBD oil safe to use?

The newer strains of marijuana are high in CBD and have started to change the perspective on the controversial plant.

RELATED: THC & CBD: The Differences You Need to Know

The Lowdown On Safe Cannabidiol Use

Unlike most pharmaceuticals these days, and even alternative options, the current research strongly shows that CBD is safe to use for most people under most circumstances.

According to one review of the literature, CBD is safe to use even in extremely high doses. This means upwards of 1,500 mg a day. Considering a normal dose for general overall health is between 2.5 to 100 mg, this fact should solidify CBD’s safety. [3]

Due to the way CBD has been evidenced to treat severe epilepsy in children, there is also significant qualitative and growing quantitative data associated with its use among children. The current consensus is that CBD is safe, and it is often an excellent alternative to a lot of the more common modern-day pharmaceuticals. [4]

But as with any good thing, there are always footnotes to be considered, as some studies have noted the potential for side effects under certain circumstances. These side effects have often only been observed during scientific studies using particularly high dosages, but it is not a good idea to continue using anything if side effects are severe.

One of the most often-cited side effects is the potential of CBD to increase tremors in patients of Parkinson’s. However, this has only been reported in one study and in high doses. These doses are typically not recommended for everyday use.

RELATED: CBD for Parkinson's: A Natural Treatment?

The interesting fact about this discovery was that there is a wealth of study supporting the idea that under the right doses, CBD oil can actually reduce tremors in Parkinson’s patients and increase their day-to-day quality of life. It is clear, however, that more research is needed to determine the correct dosage. [5]

Another potential issue that has been discovered about CBD oil is that it seems to inhibit the metabolization of hepatic drugs. This means that there may be issues absorbing pharmaceuticals that are processed through the liver. This is because, in high doses, CBD neutralizes the activity of P450 enzymes. These enzymes are responsible for breaking down compounds in the liver for use throughout the rest of the body.

CBD oil seems to inhibit the metabolization of hepatic drugs.

If you are wondering whether your current prescriptions may interact with high doses of CBD, it’s important to speak to a doctor. Especially if you take hypertensives, blood thinners, or antidepressants, it is advisable that you don't start using high doses of CBD concurrently or without the knowledge of your physician. Rather work with them on a treatment plan, as CBD is often used as an adjacent therapy that actually could make certain pharmaceuticals work better.

Interestingly, grapefruit juice and extracts often have exactly the same inhibitive effect on hepatic drugs that CBD oil has. [4]

One common side effect is that of a dry mouth. For any medical marijuana users reading this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that another cannabinoid can trigger the same effects as THC use. While dry mouth is not a serious side effect and isn’t long term, it can nevertheless be annoying. Scientists believe the CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors located in the saliva glands, interfering with their normal saliva production. The easy cure would be to take liquids and stay hydrated.

Beyond these common but mild side effects, CBD is proving to be especially effective for use in a wide variety of circumstances. This is primarily because as a treatment for more serious issues like Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and pain, the alternatives are extremely problematic. In fact, like opioids for chronic pain, the alternatives can be addictive and deadly.

How safe is CBD oil is still a question researchers need to explore in full, but recently, a CBD medication for intractable epilepsy was fully approved by the FDA. That should say something… [6]

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Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21462790
  2. http://eiha.org/media/2014/08/16-09-01-Grotenhermen-Comment-on-CBD-conversion-to-THC-Merrick-et-al.-2016.pdf
  3. https://www.medicinalgenomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Bergamaschi_2011.pdf
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/
  5. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/00207458608985678
  6. https://www.fda.gov/newsevents/newsroom/pressannouncements/ucm611046.htm

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