The anti-CBD propaganda machine has consistently put forth a false narrative around CBD, claiming that side effects could include everything from liver damage to shrinking your testicles. The reality is that, according to the World Health Organization, CBD is “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
Like any over-the-counter treatment, CBD does carry some potential minor side effects, which may include dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite or fatigue. There may be some drug interactions, and if you are on blood thinners you may want to talk to a doctor before taking CBD.
There has been some discussion of whether the potential for drowsiness could impact driving ability, but no studies have definitely said that you shouldn’t drive after taking CBD. “Drowsy driving” is real though, and it’s never a good idea to get behind the wheel of a two-ton vehicle if you’re sleepy, for whatever reason. The National Highway Traffic Association says that 795 people died as a result of drowsy driving in 2017. Of course, whenever you do feel drowsiness, whether as a result of taking CBD or just staying up late the night before and watching Jimmy Fallon, you should exercise caution before taking that long road trip.
These small side effects will impact only a minority of those who take CBD, and are fairly common. For comparison purposes, let’s look at one of the most common over-the-counter pain relievers, acetaminophen, which lists potential side effects including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and stomach pain.
Some of the minor side effects like drowsiness could be amplified if CBD is taken with booze or pot. A common-sense warning would be to avoid taking CBD with cannabis or liquor, as a precaution against the potential drowsiness effect of CBD being multiplied unintentionally. There is a common belief that CBD may mitigate the effects of THC, but studies have shown that this is not the case, and the psychoactive effects of cannabis do not vary when CBD is taken simultaneously. In fact, the study shows that plasma THC concentrations were somewhat higher after taking the combination of THC and CBD when compared to THC alone, even though CBD does not contain a significant amount of THC, a factor that may indicate a pharmacokinetic interaction.
The potential benefits, although not yet acknowledged by the FDA, are many and the side effects are few, making this one of the most useful over-the-counter treatments since the invention of aspirin. Yes, CBD may give you dry mouth and a mild case of the runs – although for most people, it won’t. The side effects can be easily countered. If you get dry mouth from taking CBD, drink some water. If you get tired, take a nap. If you get the runs, eat a banana.
These minor side effects may vary in intensity depending on not only the quantity of CBD taken, but the format in which it is taken. Since CBD does not readily metabolize completely if ingested, not all of the CBD you ingest via pill or other edibles will infiltrate your bloodstream, whereas a CBD tincture will be more readily absorbed. Consequently, both the therapeutic aspects, as well as any potential side effects, may be amplified with a CBD tincture as opposed to a CBD edible.
While we must acknowledge that CBD, like most over-the-counter remedies, may trigger a few very mild side effects, we must turn also to the FDA’s specious claim of side effects that are far more serious. An FDA warning letter points out two startling, but unproven claims: That it can cause liver damage, and that it causes male reproductive toxicity. Neither claim has any science behind it. Liver injury can be a result of taking too much of just about anything, including acetaminophen, and the FDA studies were done only on mice. Again, common sense reigns and if you follow the general dosage guidelines, which were produced in part by the FDA itself, risk of liver injury is nonexistent. What will happen if you eat an entire king-sized bottle of acetaminophen tablets all at once? Or drink a full bottle of Jack Daniels every day? That’s right, your liver is going to suffer. Yet, there is no scare-mongering and scary warnings about the dangers of acetaminophen, or any moves to keep it off the market. The same is true of CBD; don’t take the entire bottle at once and you won’t have to worry.