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CBD Side Effects – What you need to know

CBD Side Effects

Cannabidiol or CBD is rapidly growing in popularity around the world, with people using it to treat a host of conditions–some of which it is useful for, some of which it may be less useful for. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) has published a report indicating that CBD is generally safe to use, this does not mean it is without risk. Our Soulsome CBD101 guide takes you through the possible risks and complications that the scientific research understands regarding CBD side effects – to help you make informed choices about your CBD use.

CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. Reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. Since the 2018 Farm bill made hemp–a purpose-bred type of cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC–federally legal, it has opened the floodgates for hemp-derived products, particularly CBD products that are so ubiquitous you can find them in gas stations and convenience stores.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also thrown their hat in recently declaring CBD oil as “generally safe.” The takeaway quote from the WHO reads, “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. Reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications.”

So it’s totally legal and free to use, right?


There is still a gap between federal and state laws, which means that you will need to check the laws of your own state to see what you can and can’t do with CBD. In addition, while individual states figure out how to manage the regulation of CBD and CBD products–typically the purview of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–the FDA currently has only one CBD-derived medication on its approved items list: Epidiolex. So yes, there is a lot of confusion about the legality of CBD products for individual states; this is not a one-(federal)-size-fits-all situation.

In a nutshell, on a federal level, at least, the law looks like this: The 2018 Farm bill allowed federal law to support the growing of hemp as a crop in the US. It also allowed for the transfer of hemp-derived products across state lines for commercial purposes (Note, that’s HEMP-DERIVED products with less than the federally defined 0.3% THC limit). There is also no federal restriction on the sale, transport, or possession of hemp-derived products (again, HEMP-DERIVED with less than 0.3% THC content), as long as these products are manufactured within the current provision of the law.

So, to recap. The WHO feels that CBD use is “generally OK.” We would go one step further and suggest that you check in with your healthcare professional regarding your specific case and the use of CBD just to be safe and sure that you are making the right change for you. 

The federal government says it’s OK to grow, own, sell and move across state lines a hemp-derived product, so long as it is made within the limits of the current regulations and federal laws. But, and this is a big “but,” local state laws are still trying to fill a regulation gap left by the FDA not really regulating any CBD-derived products, so you can expect state laws to vary widely from state to state. With this said, do check the laws and regulations for your particular state so that you know exactly where you stand and what rights you have regarding CBD.

What are the side effects of CBD?

The FDA has an informative section on their website to assist consumers with understanding some of the side effects of CBD, potential interactions with other medications, and what to look out for regarding side effects you may be experiencing.

One of the problems the FDA currently faces is that there simply isn’t enough research, clinical trials, or evidence to categorically state that CBD is contraindicated for this or that condition. The FDA lists some of these issues openly. Regarding what we don’t know about CBD use and still need to investigate:

  • What happens if you take CBD daily for sustained periods?
  • What level of intake triggers the known risks associated with CBD?
  • How do different consumption methods affect intake (e.g., oral consumption, topical, smoking, or vaping)?
  • What is the effect of CBD on the developing brain (such as on children who take CBD)?
  • What are the effects of CBD on the developing fetus or breastfed newborn?
  • How does CBD interact with herbs and other plant materials?
  • Does CBD cause male reproductive toxicity in humans, as has been reported in studies of animals?

What the FDA is more certain about in terms of the side effects of CBD has already been widely reported, but they’re worth repeating here. Side effects of CBD may include:

  • CBD can lead to liver damage or injury.
  • CBD can complicate the action of other drugs you take. This may lead to more serious side effects, but there does not seem to be enough evidence yet to provide useful guidelines.
  • Using CBD with alcohol (or other drugs) that are typically used to treat anxiety, panic, stress, or sleep disorders, may lead to drowsiness.
  • A study involving animals exposed to CBD showed that CBD use could be correlated with male reproductive toxicity or damage male fertility. However, this must still be confirmed in human trials.
  • More obvious changes that are noticeable and obvious when using CBD include:
  • General changes in the individual’s level of alertness. This is typically experienced as drowsiness or sleepiness.
  • CBD use has been known to affect the gastrointestinal system of some individuals, resulting in decreased appetite and, in some cases, diarrhea.
  • Some individuals report changes in their mood state–this is usually reported as feelings of agitation and irritability.
  • Cannabis-derived products should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding

Should I be concerned about CBD and its side effects?

Although the federal government seems to have given hemp and hemp-derived CBD products like Soulsome’s CBD oil the green light, and reputable organizations like WHO have declared CBD as “Generally safe” to use, side effects from ANY medication you may be taking should be reported to, and handled by your doctor.

Should you notice side effects or even feel that something is a little “off” in your day-to-day experience while using CBD, you should discuss the issues you notice with your healthcare professional, who may be better placed to advise and assist you with these CBD side-effects.

As with any lifestyle, dietary, or medication change, you should include your healthcare professional at every opportunity to assist you with guidance and understanding of your specific case, your needs, and goals for your health. We cannot overemphasize just how important this is for your continued health and using your CBD products safely and wisely. 


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