What are the benefits and side effects of CBD in its consumers?
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is present in the trichomes of marijuana and hemp plants, mainly its flowers. Along with more than 100 cannabinoids and 200 terpenes, this substance contributes to the great chemical complexity of the cannabis plant.
Before CBD became this popular, cannabis was almost exclusively associated with the psychotropic compound Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and was largely considered a recreational drug. However, the growing popularity of CBD has helped pave the way for marijuana to gain more acceptance in society. Headlines about its health benefits, along with the absence of psychotropic effects, have turned it into a very attractive supplement for millions of people around the world.
What is THC?
THC is the main compound in Cannabis Sativa. Concentration aside, THC's fame stems from its psychotropic side effects.
While CBD and other cannabinoids can influence well-being without major side effects, THC interacts with specific regions of the brain and causes a feeling of euphoria (high) that temporarily affects the way we think and feel.
In just a few years, CBD has gone from being a relatively unknown cannabis compound to being a molecule famous around the world. Today, it can be found in oils, cosmetics, dried flowers, concentrates, and even food. CBD is almost everywhere.
Despite the popularity of this non-psychotropic cannabinoid, many first-time and veteran users have concerns regarding the effects of CBD and its duration. Among these questions is the concern about possible side effects and the interactions it can have with other medications and diseases. In this article you will find everything you need to know about the side effects of CBD oil, who they affect, and how long they last.
What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?
The main difference between hemp and marijuana is their chemical structure. While to the naked eye the two plants may appear similar, under a microscope things change.
The legal status of CBD and THC
When it comes to explaining the differences between CBD and THC, it's easy to get lost in chemical structures, biological effects, and preclinical studies. But there is one defining characteristic that radically differentiates these two compounds: legality.
While CBD is widely accepted, THC is not.
For any CBD product to be legal (regardless of whether it comes from hemp or marijuana), it needs to contain THC levels below the legal threshold. However, this threshold varies from country to country, but it’s usually 0.2% in Europe and 0.3% in the United States.
Hemp is naturally rich in CBD and low in THC, making it legal in a large part of the modern world. Fortunately, commercial farming has significantly reduced the levels of THC present in hemp, making it an ideal candidate for CBD oils, capsules, and such.
It may seem unclear, but one of its main advantages is that, in general terms, the consumption of CBD is legal and that of THC is not, unless it is kept below a certain percentage. However, local regulations may vary, so it is highly recommended to check the law of your region to avoid problems.
What medical conditions can CBD help with?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many molecular components produced by cannabis, it is second in abundance after THC. These molecules are characterized by their ability to act on the cannabinoid receptors that are part of our Endocannabinoid System. While THC is the main psychoactive component of cannabis and has certain medicinal uses, CBD stands out because it does not have that intoxicating effect and has a wide variety of medical uses including helping with anxiety, depression, reducing acne, relieving cancer symptoms, inflammation, pain, seizures, diabetes prevention and drug addiction treatment. This makes CBD an attractive therapeutic compound.
What are the biological bases for this wide range of potential medical uses?
Part of the answer lies in CBD's pharmacological promiscuity, that is, its ability to influence a wide range of receptor systems in the brain and body, including not just cannabinoid receptors but several others.
Receptor Systems in the Brain
The brain contains a large number of highly specialized cells called neurons. Each neuron connects to many other structures of thought called synapses. These are sites where one neuron communicates with another by releasing chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters.
The sensitivity of a neuron to specific neurotransmitters depends on whether or not said receptor contains a transmitter that will fit, just like a plug goes into an electric wall socket, as the image shows.
If the neuron contains receptors that match a particular receptor, then it can respond directly to that transmitter; generally, it is impossible otherwise. All neurons contain multiple neurotransmitter receptors, which allow them to respond to some neurotransmitters and not others.
Receptors in the brain are not only sensitive to neurotransmitters naturally produced by the body such as dopamine or serotonin, but also to chemical messengers produced elsewhere, such as plant cannabinoids such as THC or CBD. That means that when you are consuming an edible or inhaling smoke, you are allowing compounds originally produced by a plant to enter your body, travel through your bloodstream and reach your brain. Once there, these plant-derived compounds can influence activity in the brain by interacting with receptors and neurons. But they do not interact with all neurons, only with those that have the appropriate receptors.
CBD does not produce psychotropic or intoxicating effects
Unlike its psychotropic companion THC, CBD does not produce mind-altering effects. However, both molecules interact with the human body in a similar way, through the endocannabinoid system (among other mechanisms).
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has a regulatory function within the human body, helping to balance our biological systems. It is made up of receptors, enzymes, and our own internal endocannabinoids. The two main receptors for the ECS are the CB1 and CB2. THC binds directly to CB1 receptors in the central nervous system, which causes to its psychotropic effects.
In contrast, CBD does not bind as easily to any of these receptors. Instead, it strives to preserve our own endocannabinoids, such as anandamide, by preventing enzymes from breaking them down. CBD also produces unique effects through other mechanisms, such as serotonin receptors.
Most intriguingly, CBD also influences various non-cannabinoid receptor systems in the brain, interacting with the receptors' sensitivity to a variety of drugs and neurotransmitters. This includes opium receptors, known for their role in pain regulation. Opioid receptors are key targets for painkillers and drugs such as morphine, heroin, and fentanyl. CBD can also interact with dopamine receptors, which play a crucial role in regulating many aspects of behavior and thought, including motivation and the reward-seeking mechanism.
This suggests the possibility that the ability of CBD to influence opioid and dopamine receptors may lessen its ability to moderate drug dependence and withdrawal symptoms, directly relevant to addiction treatment. However, at this time we cannot be completely sure, more research is still needed on the interaction of CBD with opioid receptor systems, but numerous studies confirm the aforementioned benefits and safety of this compound in many people.
Due to its low toxicity and the absence of psychotropic side effects, CBD is considered by medical authorities such as the World Health Organization to be a well-tolerated molecule with a good safety profile. Additionally, the WHO admits that CBD poses a very low to zero risk of abuse or dependence. Healthy people generally tolerate CBD well; regardless of other medications.
What are the side effects of CBD?
The side effects of CBD are not related to relaxation, but rather to excessive tiredness or an upset stomach. All medicines, even flu medicines, have side effects. So why wouldn't a cannabinoid like CBD have them? Everyone is different, there can be as many different tastes and reactions as users of CBD. Side effects are normal in any treatment, and even more so, if it is a plant-based cannabinoid.
It is important to clarify that the fact that there have been cases in which a certain side effect appeared does not prove that CBD affects the body in a certain way. However, we must take into account these possible situations, it’s good to know what to expect after consumption and if one’s symptoms are normal or if they constitute a rarity.
There are many side effects, which is normal. However, some of the best known are the following:
Drug interactions in the liver
It is contraindicated to mix certain drugs with CBD and this must be taken into account in all cases, because it can cause serious health problems. CBD interacts with drug-metabolizing enzymes such as those belonging to the cytochrome P450 group. If consumed, CBD could take a long time to break down while exactly the opposite would happen to the rest of the drugs.
The application of this kinds of treatment together with CBD should be a subject of medical advice. Liver problems seriously affect the body over time. However, CBD does not have cause problems to the vast majority of liver enzymes, so the query must refer to which enzyme the medicine you consume is processed with.
Changes in appetite
CBD appears to have a multifaceted effect on appetite. In some people, this cannabinoid could speed up the metabolism, making them feel more hungry. In others, it may suppress your appetite, which can lead to weight loss.
How do we know this? Science has allowed us to come up with some key findings. In an article published in Epilepsy & Behavior, CBD-enriched cannabis extracts were administered to children with epilepsy. Throughout the study, the researchers kept in contact with parents to get an idea of the effectiveness of the treatment, as well as possible side effects. Of the 117 parents, 13% reported a significant increase in their children's appetite.
Another study, this time published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2017, shows a slightly different perspective. This review of clinical data documents a study in which 23 children with Dravet syndrome received up to 25mg of CBD per kilogram of body weight, per day. Some of the children experienced an increase in appetite, while others had a decrease in appetite.
Although these studies have their limitations, they provide us with the best scientific knowledge to date of the effects of CBD on appetite. After trying CBD for the first time, you may notice an increase or decrease in appetite, or no change at all.
Although it’s not very common, some users experience dizziness after taking CBD. Many of these testimonials are anecdotal, but there are scientific publications that confirm them. Several studies report dizziness as an adverse reaction after administration of CBD along with THC. However, we still do not know which cannabinoid these effects are due to.
Dizziness after using CBD is still very rare and the reasons for it are still not well understood. No study has yet delved into the mechanisms responsible for this effect. In reality, science has a long way to go to fully understand the effects of CBD, and many of its mechanisms remain unknown. To date, some scientists believe that dizziness could be due to a change in neuronal signaling, and the activation of the autonomic nervous system that alters blood flow in the brain.
Possibly one of the most annoying CBD oil side effects that some users experience. Although CBD can cause an upset stomach in some people, this molecule may not always be directly responsible.
Taking almost any supplement on an empty stomach can cause nausea, an upset stomach, and diarrhea. If you take CBD shortly after a meal, you can see if you tolerate it better on a full stomach. Also, almost all CBD products carry other compounds. Full-spectrum extracts contain many other molecules, such as terpenes, and raw formulas also contain lipids, waxes, and chlorophyll, which can contribute to an upset stomach.
CBD oils use a carrier oil to dilute the product. The most common carriers are olive oil and coconut oil, but these rarely cause problems. However, some product lines use medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, which can cause diarrhea in some people, especially those with little experience.
Apart from anecdotal testimonies, some studies, such as the one published in the journal Epilepsy in 2018, speak of diarrhea as an adverse reaction after the administration of CBD. This particular study looked at the effects of long-term CBD treatment in patients with Dravet syndrome. Among other side effects, diarrhea occurred in 34% of the 278 patients.
CBD produces a relaxing effect that can bring peace of mind to many users. Taking CBD oil or vaping buds rich in CBD helps you relax after a long day. However, this relaxing effect could manifest as fatigue in some users.
If you take CBD in the morning before a long day, or during the day when you feel especially stressed, you may experience more fatigue than usual. Research has not yet identified the mechanism responsible for this, and this state of fatigue is most likely simply due to a feeling of deep relaxation.
Interestingly, CBD can help relieve fatigue in certain circumstances. Characterized by extreme tiredness, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) causes those suffering from it to feel exhausted and extremely tired throughout the day. Anecdotal accounts report a reduction in fatigue following CBD administration, possibly due to changes in immune cell function and inflammation.
Given the possibility of experiencing fatigue as a side effect, we recommend taking CBD at home in the evening the first few times you try it. This way, you won't be far from your bed if you start to feel tired.
The sensation of dry mouth can occur for a variety of reasons, such as dehydration or using marijuana that is high in THC. CBD also appears to cause dry mouth in some users. Although this side effect seems harmless and easy to relieve, it can become very annoying quite quickly. The type of dry mouth caused by CBD is different from when you forget to drink water. Known as xerostomia, it is the result of a reduced or non-existent flow of saliva. Both THC and CBD work in a similar way in this regard.
Endocannabinoid receptors are located in the salivary glands and regulate the amount of saliva that flows into the mouth. THC binds directly to CB1 receptors and inhibits saliva production. However, CBD does not interact directly with this receptor. Instead, it increases the levels of anandamide, which then binds to the CB1 receptor, leading to the same result.
Low blood pressure
Lowering blood pressure is among the most serious on the spectrum of CBD side effects. It is true that this effect can have a therapeutic purpose for people with high blood pressure, but it could cause adverse symptoms, such as lightheadedness and even fainting, in individuals with a medical history of hypotension.
If you are a CBD consumer, you already know the possible adverse reactions. Therefore, we recommend that you observe yourself and in the event of any symptoms, go to the doctor immediately, be disciplined and take care of your health.