The CBD market is growing at lightning speed. Each report released about the industry’s value seems to increase by a few extra billion each time. The marijuana industry analysts believe it could reach $22 billion per year by 2022!
There is no question that reputable brands within the industry will make their fortunes over the next few years. Yet, despite the hype, how much do we really know about cannabidiol? Research is ongoing, and so far, it has been touted as a safe alternative to prescription medication for dozens of symptoms associated with conditions such as Parkinson’s, PTSD, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.
For a public still cautious about the psychoactive effects of marijuana, the fact that CBD doesn’t provide a high is a major selling point. It makes it more available to children, for example, and is quickly being seen as a viable treatment for a wide range of things.
In December 2018, President Trump signed the Farm Bill into law. It removed hemp, and any cannabinoids derived from the plant, from the Controlled Substances Act. This has made hemp-derived CBD available in many states.
If you browse through the articles on this website, you will find a myriad of information on the possible benefits of CBD. In this piece, however, we aim to bring some balance to the equation by taking a look at the possible side effects of CBD.
Common Misconceptions About CBD
In an emerging industry, there are always going to be hucksters peddling snake oil and enough misinformation to fill Harvard’s library. There are dozens of misconceptions about this cannabinoid, but I am only going to outline five!
1 – CBD Isn’t Psychoactive
Often CBD sellers claim that CBD is non-psychoactive. This is likely due to a misunderstanding of what psychoactive means.
A substance is deemed ‘psychoactive’ if it affects a person’s mood or behavior. Research has clearly shown that CBD has a myriad of effects including antidepressant and anxiety-reducing effects, and is thus psychoactive.
CBD would be better described as ‘non-intoxicating’ as it doesn’t have the typical effects of intoxication that THC does.
2 – CBD Isn’t Regulated by the FDA
While the Farm Bill is great news for industrial hemp farmers, it does not prevent the FDA from regulating dietary supplements, drugs, cosmetics, and food, including those that contain hemp.
It recently approved Epidiolex, which includes a purified form of CBD, and Sativex; a pharmaceutical drug that contains THC and CBD. Therefore, while the FDA hasn’t regulated the cannabinoid CBD, it has already approved two drugs that contain it!
3 – CBD Is Legal in All 50 States
Technically, industrial hemp is legal to grow in the United States thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill that took hemp and its derivatives off the controlled substances list.
As alluded to above, CBD can be derived from hemp or marijuana. The main difference between the two is that hemp-derived CBD has less than 0.3% THC. So thanks to the Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 states. The misconception, though, is that ALL CBD is legal nationwide. Marijuana-derived CBD is still illegal anywhere marijuana is illegal.
And it should also be noted that there is no guarantee that you’ll pass a drug test if you consume a full-spectrum CBD product, as there may still be detectable traces of THC.
4 – CBD Is Relatively Unresearched
While it is true that there haven’t been a huge number of clinical trials, CBD has been researched in dozens of countries around the world. One Brazilian study in 2017 found that CBD made people less anxious when faced with a public speaking task. A UK study in 2018 showed exciting results when testing CBD on people with ulcerative colitis.
And the list continues. Now that the federal ban on hemp and its cannabinoids has been lifted, we should see a significant amount of research into CBD in the next few years.
5 – CBD Is Dubious Because the Market Is Dodgy
It is absolutely true that the CBD industry is poorly regulated, and that there are con men selling olive oil labeled as CBD and making money from uneducated buyers.
However, the unregulated state of the market does NOT mean that the compound itself is ineffective. Hundreds of thousands of people have used CBD and are delighted with the results. And research is backing what users have been reporting for years. So the onus on buyers is to do their research to ensure they’re getting high-quality CBD.
The Potential Side Effects of CBD
Perhaps the biggest danger associated with the CBD market is the lack of regulation. Pretty much anyone can set up a company, slap a label on a bottle, and put whatever they like inside it. Back in 2017, one study discovered that almost 70% of CBD products didn’t contain the amount of marijuana extract promised on the label. About one-quarter contained too much CBD, while 43% contained too little. 20% of the samples tested positive for THC.
So it’s important to make sure you buy well-labeled CBD from a reputable company that can support and prove its claims with third-party lab reports.
If you’re using CBD from organically grown hemp (without pesticides, GMOs, and insecticides) into your body, the reported side effects are few and far between. However, there are a few so let’s delve into them.
Potential Liver Damage
Aside from alcohol and drugs, even natural supplements can take their toll on the liver if used to excess. A recent study found that CBD could cause liver damage, but the doses given to subjects were significantly higher than what the average consumer takes. Still, if one has liver damage or is on other potentially liver-toxic drugs, it’s best to monitor your liver enzymes while on CBD.
Interactions with Other Drugs
There is also evidence that CBD could interact with other medications, especially when used in high doses. One of the most salient examples is Warfarin, the well-known anticoagulant. It was also found to increase levels of anti-seizure medications. Thus, it’s important to monitor the levels of other drugs in someone taking CBD.
Pregnant Women Think Twice
Very little research has been done on CBD in pregnancy and therefore it is not recommended to consume CBD during pregnancy. This is especially important due to the unknown potential side effects CBD can have on the fetus.
This is a common issue with practically all marijuana and hemp strains. It is generally due to the Endocannabinoid System’s (ECS) inhibition of salivary secretion. Fortunately, if you experience dry mouth, drinking some fluids should mitigate what is a fairly low-key side effect.
Drowsiness is a potentially significant side effect. If you plan on driving or operating heavy machinery, it isn’t a good idea to use CBD beforehand, especially if you don’t know how it is going to affect you. The truth is, CBD can affect people in different ways and depending on what dose they took. While your friend may experience a burst of energy while feeling invigorated, whereas you could feel drowsy and listless.
Falling Blood Pressure
A study by Jadoon, Tan, and O’Sullivan, published in JCI Insight in 2017, found that a single dose of CBD reduced the blood pressure of healthy volunteers. While this is great news if you suffer from high blood pressure, it could be a problem if you happen to have low blood pressure. Therefore, we recommend talking about CBD with your doctor if your blood pressure is on the low side.
This side effect is linked to a fall in blood pressure. If this happens to you, try consuming some caffeine as it could help normalize your blood pressure.
There are also reports of a handful of other side effects but in general, they are linked to medical conditions. An example is an increase in tremors among patients with Parkinson’s. However, much more research is needed as we have honestly only scratched the surface of CBD research in general.
Why Choose CBD Instead of THC?
CBD has a different effect from THC because it affects the cannabinoid receptors differently. While THC binds directly to the CB1 receptor, CBD doesn’t directly trigger either the CB1 or CB2 receptors. Instead, it modifies the ability of the receptors to bind to cannabinoids, and influences other types of receptors, while increasing your natural level of cannabinoids through the occupation of specific enzymes.
However, while CBD is not without side effects, they do appear to be less of an issue; at least according to the research to date. Whereas THC can cause more severe side effects such as paranoia and an increase in anxious thoughts.
Final Thoughts About CBD
No one is suggesting that CBD is perfect, nor should they. There is still a LOT of research that needs to be done regarding this popular cannabinoid. At present, we know it won’t intoxicate you like THC, which is one of the reasons why parents feel more comfortable giving CBD, rather than THC, to their children.
Although high-quality CBD isn’t cheap, it could be effective for those unable to afford the ever-rising prices of some prescription medications.
If you decide to use CBD, it is your responsibility to research the cannabinoid to decide whether it is right for you. Also make sure you use it sensibly. And remember, none of the information in this article should be taken as medical advice.