It’s important to investigate the risks of anything you’re putting in your body. So, if you’re asking this big question about CBD, you’re the smart one. But here’s the headline, CBD has been renowned as a safe, natural alternative that doesn’t pose any risks of adverse, long-term side effects.
Data shows that even large amounts of CBD remain non-toxic and generally safe. If you’re thinking – let’s push those limits then and reap all the benefits, know that this doesn’t actually mean that more CBD is better. Cannabinoids, like CBD, have biphasic properties, and that means that low and high doses of the same compound can produce opposite effects. (More on that cool fact in a moment!)
This plays an important role when it comes to dosing as well as side effects. While we’re at it, side effects can also result from a variety of other factors, making supplementation journaling a helpful tool to help you optimize your CBD regimen like a pro, and nail the right therapeutic plan for your needs. Here’s our comprehensive guide on CBD side effects and how to figure out what they mean.
What Causes CBD Side Effects?
CBD side effects can result from a variety of factors, with some more harmful than others. Troubleshooting the root cause is the key to making more informed decisions on your health so you can move forwards.
Human biology is so incredibly complex and nuanced that no two people can ever share an identical experience. This applies to diet, lifestyle factors, and absolutely to cannabinoid therapy. CBD dosage and frequency vary from person to person, making self-experimentation key in finding what works with your body. Remember that CBD contains certain biphasic properties? I.e., individuals can experience opposite effects based on the dosage they take. That’s why small amounts of CBD are alerting while high doses can offer a sedating effect. Cool indeed, but there’s no clear cutoff between the two- this effect is also unique to us all. For instance, if you’re experiencing significant fatigue or brain fog after taking CBD, this is a good indicator that you’re taking too large of a dose.
Confused over CBD jargon? You’re not alone, but don’t worry, we’re here to demystify. Hemp-derived CBD products are broken down into three categories: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. If you want to read more about spectrum differences check out our CBD product guide here. Some people may have a hypersensitivity to the minimal THC content in full-spectrum products, which may lead to unwanted side effects like anxiety or rapid heartbeat. If you know you don’t do well with THC, go for a broad-spectrum or CBD isolate product instead.
Tip: As the CBD industry in the US is still unregulated, you can potentially buy products that are marketed as THC-free that still contain THC. To minimize this risk, always buy yours from reputable, transparent companies that offer batch-specific COAs including cannabinoid profile reporting.
Quick fact for you: the CBD compound itself doesn’t pose any risk of allergy. While most CBD products on the market are formulated with allergy-friendly hypoallergenic distillates (and other forms of hemp extract free of other hemp plant material), there are a few products that are infused with crude oil. Note, crude oil will contain plant waxes and chlorophyll, which can be triggering for those with cannabis or other plant allergies. In this case, cue dermatitis when it’s applied topically and side effects just like season allergies (AKA dry cough, congestion, itchy eyes, nausea, runny nose, or sore throat). If you know of any existing cannabis allergies or are prone to plant allergies, check out those ingredients and spot-test before getting stuck into the product. If in doubt, always reach out to the company directly to ask if their product contains crude oil or not.
Just like grapefruit, watercress, and St. John’s wort, CBD temporarily deactivates the cytochrome p450 system. Say what? In human speak: this is the process responsible for metabolizing most pharmaceuticals in the body. In a nutshell, CBD can cause drug interactions, and this can often lead to side effects. So, here’s the thing – while CBD can be safely taken with certain medications under doctor supervision, it is so important to discuss taking CBD with your healthcare provider. Especially if you are taking any medication – we cannot stress this enough. When taken alongside certain pharmaceuticals, the temporarily deactivated liver enzymes lead to longer metabolization times, impacted dosage, and can ultimately exacerbate the existing side effects of these medications.
Product Sourcing and Other Ingredients
Thanks to the lack of a federal regulatory framework, sadly some companies are taking advantage of the popularity of CBD. In their factories, they’re producing ineffective and even harmful products. From reports of CBD products containing much higher concentrations of THC than marketed and federally compliant to products containing harmful synthetic cannabinoids, the standards are questionable. The reality is that sourcing, extraction, and manufacturing all require high-quality standards of processing to deliver a safe, effective CBD product. You can get side effects from anything ranging from pesticide exposure, toxic solvent residue from improper extraction, and other factors. When shopping for CBD, you need a tick list to inform your choices. So, we’ve created this handy checklist to help you navigate the unregulated market to find trustworthy CBD products:
⬜ CBD sourced from US Hemp Authority-certified, non-GMO farms
⬜ CBD sourced from farms raised with strict organic farming practices or certified organic
⬜ CO2-extracted CBD
⬜ Provides independent, third-party lab testing
⬜ COAs are from an ISO 17025-accredited lab
⬜ COAs are batch-specific
⬜ COAs include the following test results:
⬜ Correct cannabinoid content
⬜ No pesticide exposure
⬜ Non-detectible heavy metals
⬜ No toxic solvent residue
⬜ No mold or mildew contamination
⬜ Products manufactured in a cGMP-certified, FDA-registered facility
Just think it’s like any other product you buy. You want to be diligent when looking through the ingredients list. Tick these things off as you scan it, making sure the product doesn’t contain fillers or other ingredients that can lead to side effects.
The CBD Onboarding Phase
So, you’re still experiencing side effects and you’ve eliminated the above factors. What now? If you’re new to CBD, you may be going through what’s called the initial onboarding detox phase. This onboarding phase can impact everyone differently and generally lasts a couple of weeks to about a month. That said, if your side effects persist, the best thing is to stop your CBD regimen and speak to your doctor.
Remember, journaling can be a powerful tool at the start of any new supplement journey. Get into it, tracking your dose, timing, and experiences to better understand how CBD is impacting you. Be honest and figure out if you’re reaping the benefits or not. And while you’re at it, know that our team is always happy to help you through the onboarding phase and troubleshoot any side effects you may be experiencing!