Some people may get diarrhea or liver problems [when using CBD]. This is dependent on the individual and their medical history, so monitoring is important,” says Dr. Matharu-Daley.
Because CBD supplements come in so many different forms—such as oils, gummies, tinctures, and vapors—the amount that’s actually absorbed can vary drastically. This, combined with each person, will ultimately affect which (if any) CBD side effects you might experience.
It’s important to point out that CBD is not regulated by the FDA and therefore dosages might not be accurate. It’s also difficult to know what an appropriate dose is the first time you try a new product.
CBD is one of the many chemical compounds that is found in the cannabis plant—referred to as cannabis sativa. There are two primary parts of the plant that humans use. One is THC, or Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, and the other is CBD. Though they’re from the same plant, THC and CBD are quite different from each other.
Some common side effects when using CBD include drowsiness and sedation. This is also considered a benefit, but Dr. Jas Matharu-Daley, a physician and chief medical officer for a CBD brand, notes that the effects might be too strong if you’re also taking CBD with other sedating medications.
CBD oil contains CBD mixed with an inert carrier oil, such as coconut oil or hemp seed oil. The bottled oil, called a tincture, is sold in various concentrations. There are also CBD capsules, CBD gummies, and under-the-tongue CBD sprays.
In an analysis of 14 published studies (nine involving animals and five involving humans), scientists with the University of Montreal concluded that CBD showed promise in treating people with opioid, cocaine, or psychostimulant addiction.
CBD shows promise in the treatment of anxiety disorders, suggests a 2015 review of studies in the journal Neurotherapeutics. According to the investigators, CBD demonstrated potent anxiolytic (anxiety-relieving) effects in animal research, albeit with counterintuitive results.
To use CBD oil, place one or more drops under the tongue and hold the dose there for 30 to 60 seconds without swallowing. Capsules and gummies are easier to dose, although they tend to be more costly. CBD sublingual sprays are available as well.
Among the few human trials evaluating CBD’s anxiolytic effects was one published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry in 2019. For this study, 57 men were given either CBD oil or a placebo before a public-speaking event. Anxiety was evaluated using physiological measures (such as blood pressure, heart rate, etc.) and a relatively reliable test for mood states known as the Visual Analog Mood Scale (VAMS).
A review and meta-analysis of 8 studies with low-quality evidence of cannabis-based medicines found that they were better at reducing sleep problems compared to inactive medicines (placebo).
As stated above, CBD is in a class of chemicals called cannabinoids. Because it comes from a plant, it is called a phytocannabinoid.
CAUTION: CBD should not be used with medicines that are prescribed to control seizures.
Does Topical CBD Help with Pain?
Studies are ongoing, but there is evidence that CBD may be effective in reducing anxiety, chronic (long-term) pain like back pain, and insomnia or trouble sleeping.
Cannabinoid receptors are part of the complex endocannabinoid system (ECS). It regulates the release of neurotransmitters (chemicals that communicate between nerve cells) in the brain, as well as in other parts of the nervous system. The ECS responds to both types of cannabinoids, phyto- and endo-.
CAUTION: Taking CBD with other herbs that cause drowsiness or sleepiness may increase this effect.
A review of clinical trials of the effect of cannabinoids on sleep suggested that cannabinoids could improve sleep quality, decrease sleep disturbances, and decrease the time it takes to fall asleep. However there were many limiting factors such as a small number of people studied and they evaluated sleep within studies of other illnesses.