What Side Effects Does CBD Have? Risks to Know


Our in-depth guide here will take a look at the side effects of CBD. We’ll also cover dosing, important safety precautions, and what you need to be aware of when using CBD. We’ll focus particularly on the interactions and risks involved when CBD oil is used with other medications and when it should be avoided. This might be due to being in an at-risk group such as pregnant individuals or if you’re already taking particular prescription medications. We’ve done the research and the news is good, however. CBD is very well tolerated by the vast majority of people. You shouldn’t be overly concerned. Needless to say, it’s always wise to get informed. Learn about what to be aware of before buying to ensure you can avoid any unintended side effects. We’ll cover both physiological as well as potential mental side effects and risk factors.

What is CBD oil?

Put simply, it’s a natural plant-based oil that is extracted from hemp when it’s pressed. Seemingly overnight, full-spectrum CBD oil and tinctures have become widespread both in the retail market and online. Particularly in the US, Canada, and Australia where it was recently made legal. We can attribute this both to the huge interest in its powerful therapeutic properties. It can help with everything from anxiety reduction to inflammation, arthritis, and pain management. But even more so, it’s easy to use, convenient, and most importantly – really works. In Australia, CBD oil is seeing take up from all sectors of society, from young university students who need the product to support stress relief, to baby boomers and pensioners who want to relax. Those with health on their conscience want to reduce the issues associated with arthritis or gut inflammation. Similar to some other health products like curcumin, the role of products containing cannabinoids and phytocannabinoids seems to only have increased in importance. Less inflammation is key to overall well-being.

Depending on where you live – it may not be available due to laws in your country. It can even differ at a regional level on legality. For example, the US has regulated the plant at the federal level (providing it contains less than 0.3% THC) however some states won’t allow its sale without a specific medical doctor’s prescription. This is why you may not have found CBD oil even though it is widely used and purchased. Why is the product largely legal and used in many countries throughout Europe and the Americas? It doesn’t have any psychoactive properties. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is psychotropic and can trigger or cause many mental issues. On the other hand, CBD products won’t get you high as there is no THC within the strain. Because of this, it has some inherent danger compared to compounds like CBD (cannabidiol) which operate physiologically only. It’s why industrial hemp has remained legal. Scientists have understood this since the mid-20th century when cannabis was studied intensively for its therapeutic properties.  

Is CBD safe to use?

CBD has minimal reported side effects. However, there are still risks associated with using it you should be aware of. These can be exacerbated into potential dangers if you fit into certain categories of exposure. Three key ‘at risk’ groups should avoid using full spectrum CBD oil altogether due to contamination or side effect risks. These groups have either immune vulnerabilities which open up exposure to worsening side effects or may have extra sensitivity.

Generally, it certainly is. For the vast majority of people. It’s very safe to use when dose and frequency are appropriate. Several key organizations and scientific bodies like the World Health Organisation have already cleared CBD oil use as safe even at high doses. They noted several important characteristics of the compound that made its risk profile low. These included the fact it was not addictive, had no psychoactive availability, and had no toxicity even in high dosages.

If you examine the research on physiology, body interactions, effects, and dangers (as we have), the literature indicates CBD oil is very low risk for the population. We looked through thousands of studies and clinical research papers. A big plus is that you won’t get addicted. The potential for physical or psychological addiction is extremely low compared to substances like opioids which have a lot of risks around physiological dependence. This applies even when used at a high dose and frequency. It’s great news for people who need relief but have had previous issues with dependence.

When you compare the side effects and addiction potential of it against prescription painkillers like Hydrocodone, the contrast is clear. Many of the therapeutic pain drugs consumers purchase to help in managing their chronic issues are extremely addictive. This has largely been the cause of the opioid addiction crisis in the USA. Not to mention countless addiction stories which can result from the use of pharmaceutical drugs.

It’s important to note that these extracts don’t work in the same way as most other medicines. Full-spectrum CBD oil works with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain and throughout the body to deliver its health benefits. Acting on these receptors causes the body to release endocannabinoid compounds, which are highly anti-inflammatory and can help with a range of issues including stress, anxiety, arthritis, and inflammation. When doing this it doesn’t trigger dopamine which is the main chemical your brain produces for motivation. Dopamine makes us feel good. It’s the pang you get that pushes you to do something. But many painkillers can produce too much of it and hijack the brain. causing addiction. 

How does CBD work?

CBD can be taken in a variety of ways such as orally through oils, tinctures, edibles, pills, or topically through ointments applied to problem areas. But no matter how you take it, the substance will eventually make its way through the stomach or skin and into the bloodstream. Here the bioactive cannabinoids will be transported to cells where they metabolize.

All mammals have what’s called an endocannabinoid system. You might not have heard of this but it’s inside your body! It functions across multiple organs and systems, through receptors that can trigger the production of endocannabinoid enzymes. This system is part of you and all other mammals, with the body producing the compounds themselves. The trigger or ‘key’ that unlocks the release of the compounds is cannabinoids like CBG and CBN binding to the CB1 and CBD2 receptors.

The process involves many metabolic pathways but has some similarities to the processes in anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen (without the side effects and strain on the liver). The two types of receptors used in the endocannabinoid system are present throughout the body, from the brain and central nervous system to the liver, spleen, and gut. It’s how these extracts benefit both the mind as well as body. Whether you’re seeking relief from anxiety and stress or just helping with muscle aches and rejuvenating the body after heavy training, the receptors can support target areas.

What’s more is that the endocannabinoid system helps in assisting with a broad range of the body’s functions such as sleep, mood, and energy, plus immune function. Phytonutrients like CBD are well known in science as ‘neuromodulators’ i.e. compounds which influence the functioning of cognitive areas. Although there is already a large body of research indicating the safety of these products, it’s not to say that there are no side effects at all. Much more research is still being done (mostly on animals currently) to derive a deeper understanding and evidence of the long-term effects and potential interactions of the extract.

Side Effects of CBD oil

While renowned for its safety, it does have several key side effects to be aware of. Everyone is different physiologically and has different tolerances for CBD oil so it’s important to experiment and gauge your tolerance level before dosing. The most commonly reported adverse effects are dry mouth, drowsiness, stomach irritation, and problems with the liver processing other medications. Let’s cover each of the top reported side effects. If you purchase low-quality CBD oil it may have impurities. These can result in allergic reactions or upset stomachs for many users. Not everyone tolerates vegetable oils well. Although these examples are in themselves very nutritious and contain a high level of Omega 3 and Gamma linoleic acids. 

Different individuals react in varying ways to these oils so it’s best to try and learn what works best for your body and gut lining. Some people also prefer to take their oil with food or other drinks to calm the stomach and allow it to digest better. Some also report mild nausea from kicking off a dosage regime. Nausea often comes down to how much you take, so be slow to increase the dose.

Most recommended dosage ranges for CBD products will keep you calm and ready for productive periods of mental or physical work. Taking very high doses of it at high frequencies can still be done. It won’t cause toxicity but it may end up leaving you tired or drowsy. A benefit of this is getting to sleep and resolving insomnia for many. It can be used as a sleep aid to improve sleep length and quality. It’s strongly recommended to not drive or operate heavy vehicles or machinery if you plan to while using CBD oil. Take care when using high potency or dosage as you may endanger yourself or others. Particular care should be taken if you’re not used to the effects, or have a low tolerance or low body mass. If so, the drowsiness effect can be heightened leading to unintended outcomes.

Immunocompromised Individuals

It’s important to be extra careful using any kind of new nutritional product when you have liver problems or immune system issues. Certain enzymes in your liver can be increased such as ALT when taking any new supplement. This can increase the risk of liver toxicity. When combined with other activities that may further increase liver load such as alcohol or pharmaceuticals, a risk to the body can be amplified.

Particularly avoid using CBD if you are already taking any kind of opioids or anti-inflammatories which tax the liver. You should also avoid it if you’re drinking or using strong medications such as those for chemotherapy or other chronic diseases. The individuals using these types of medications are also usually immunocompromised. If your immune system has become vulnerable in any way you should also steer clear.


With any supplement or medicine, every individual has genetic variations and physiological nuances that can result in acceptance or reactions against different substances. It’s important to test and see what works for you and whether your body agrees. Be aware of your body and keep an eye out for the potential side effects that may occur. Always check product quality and purity before use. Taking in pesticides, herbicides, solvents, or other by-products as a result of poor quality assurance is far from ideal. Be careful to do your research and always seek organic, whole plant extracts. It’s clear from the clinical trials and research into CBD that its safety and risk profile are good. The product overall has minimal side effects which only display in a few individuals.

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