Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant that has been the subject of much research and interest as a potential medicinal treatment. While CBD has been shown to have several potential health benefits, there are also some concerns about its safety, particularly regarding long-term use. Understanding CBD’s potential benefits and risks is essential before considering it as a treatment option. In this article, we will explore the safety of CBD and the current state of research on its potential medicinal uses.
FDA and CBD
It is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to food or labeling it as a dietary supplement. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only one CBD product for medicinal use, a prescription drug called Epidiolex that is used to treat seizures associated with Lennox Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome (DS), or tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) in individuals one year of age or older. The FDA has limited data on the safety of CBD, and the available data suggest potential risks that should be considered before using CBD for any reason. Some CBD products are being marketed with unproven medical claims, and their quality is unknown. It is essential to be cautious when using CBD and to speak with a healthcare provider before starting any treatment. (Commissioner)
Drug Interactions with CBD
Be cautious when using CBD, particularly if you are also taking other medications or substances that may interact with it. CBD is generally considered safe but can cause specific side effects such as drowsiness, lightheadedness, nausea, diarrhea, and dry mouth. In rare cases, it may also damage the liver. When taken with other medications or substances that have similar side effects, such as opioids, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antihistamines, alcohol, or herbal supplements like kava, melatonin, or St. John’s wort, the risk of experiencing these side effects may increase.
Additionally, taking CBD with stimulants like Adderall may lead to decreased appetite, while taking it with the diabetes drug Metformin or certain heartburn drugs like Prilosec may increase the risk of diarrhea.
CBD can interact with other medications by altering their concentration in the body. CBD can change how different drugs work by interacting with the enzymes that break them down in the liver, causing too much or too little of the drug to be present in the body.
These alterations in concentration can result in the medication not working as intended or an increased risk of side effects. It is essential to be aware of the potential for drug interactions when using CBD. They can be challenging to predict but may cause unpleasant or severe problems. (Katsiaryna Bykov)
Side Effects of CBD
While it is essential to be aware of the potential risks associated with CBD use, it is also necessary to recognize the potential benefits that CBD may offer. CBD has potential therapeutic benefits, including reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and reducing chronic pain. Discussing CBD with a healthcare provider, particularly if you are taking other medications or have a medical condition, is essential.
Additionally, it is crucial to use caution when combining CBD with alcohol or other drugs that may affect brain activity. Overall, CBD has the potential to offer significant benefits when used safely and as directed.
The most common side effects of medicinal CBD include the following:
- Drowsiness: CBD can cause drowsiness or sedation, which may benefit people with insomnia or other sleep disorders. However, it can also make you tired or lethargic during the day.
- Dry mouth: CBD can reduce saliva production, leading to dry mouth. This side effect can be relieved by drinking plenty of water.
- Lightheadedness: Some people may experience lightheadedness or dizziness after taking CBD, especially if they stand up quickly.
- Nausea: CBD may cause nausea in some people, especially in large doses.
- Diarrhea: CBD may also cause diarrhea, especially in high doses.
- Changes in appetite, weight, and mood: CBD may increase or decrease need in some people. Some people may gain or lose weight while taking CBD, depending on its effect on appetite. CBD may cause changes in mood or affect mental clarity in some people.
It is important to note that these side effects are generally mild and may vary from person to person. You should consult a healthcare provider before ingesting a CBD product, and if you experience severe or persistent side effects while taking medicinal CBD. CBD use for medicinal purposes is still very new and not FDA regulated. Don’t give CBD to children as there is not enough research or regulation to do so. If a child ingests CBD, contact Poison Control (800) 222-1222 or visit the nearest emergency room.
Brent A. Bauer, M.D. “CBD: Safe and Effective?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 6 Dec. 2022, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700#:~:text=Though%20it’s%20often%20well%2Dtolerated,dosage%20of%20CBD%20in%20products.
Katsiaryna Bykov, PharmD. “CBD and Other Medications: Proceed with Caution.” Harvard Health, 11 Jan. 2021, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cbd-and-other-medications-proceed-with-caution-2021011121743.
Commissioner, Office of the. “What to Know about Products Containing Cannabis and CBD.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-need-know-and-what-were-working-find-out-about-products-containing-cannabis-or-cannabis#:~:text=CBD%20has%20the%20potential%20to,potentially%20causing%20serious%20side%20effects.