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Anytime you try a new supplement, it’s important to have the right information so you’ll know about possible side effects. That’s true, too, for cannabidiol, also known as CBD. There are many CBD products on the market – everything from gummies to oils to sprays – and you should know the risks before you decide to try it.

Is CBD Safe?

Research suggests that CBD is safe when taken orally in small doses for a short period of time. Studies have shown that taking up to 200 milligrams daily for 13 weeks is usually safe. 

So far, the FDA has approved only one CBD medication, called Epidiolex, for the treatment of two types of epilepsy. Other CBD products have not received FDA approval, including ones marketed as supplements. That means they are not regulated by the FDA. States have their own CBD regulations and have different ways to ensure safety. 

Because of the lack of regulation, some CBD products are marketed with misleading or false claims that may cause people to postpone doctor visits to get the right diagnosis and treatment. 

Also, many of the CBD products aren’t necessarily pure, and the label does not always reflect the amount of the supplement contained or any contaminants, such as THC, that may be there. 

Who Shouldn’t Take CBD?

There are many unknowns about CBD. But the current guidelines are clear that certain people should avoid taking CBD products. CBD is not recommended if you: 

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding: The effect of CBD on pregnancy is not known at this time. The CDC recommends that pregnant women not take any kind of CBD product. CBD is also not recommended if you are breastfeeding. It is unknown whether it can be passed through breast milk. At least one animal study shows high doses of CBD can harm an unborn baby. 
  • Have liver disease: Studies show healthy people could get liver damage if they take high doses of the FDA-approved CBD drug, Epidiolex. People who already have liver problems may need to take a lower dose.
  • Have Parkinson’s disease: Data suggests higher doses of CBD may make tremors and muscle movement worse for some people who have Parkinson’s disease.
  • Are a child: The anti-seizure prescription CBD drug (Epidiolex) in a 25-milligram dose is approved for children who are at least 1 year old who have certain health conditions. But it is unclear whether CBD products are safe for children generally. It’s a good idea to keep CBD products in childproof containers.
  • Are older than 55: Older adults could be at greater risk for some of the side effects of CBD since it may affect thought and motor skills. 

What Side Effects Are Possible With CBD?

Although CBD is sold in many products, including edibles, beverages, beauty products, and more, it’s not without risk. You should be aware of possible side effects: 

  • Crankiness and changes in mood
  • Sleepiness or drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Liver damage
  • Changes in how other drugs you take work
  • Damage to male fertility
  • Dry mouth
  • Lightheadedness

What Do We Know About CBD’s Long-Term Effects?

Scientists are clear that there needs to be more research to find out the long-term effects of CBD. It’s hard to know the clinical benefits because so many products that are on the market haven’t been tested. It’s hard to test long-term effects on impure substances. 

Why Is It Important to Tell Your Doctor You’re Taking CBD?

It is always important to let your doctor know if you’re taking CBD – or any supplement. CBD can affect how your body breaks down medications. 

Because CBD might slow how your body breaks down these drugs, that could mean higher levels of the drug in your body, and even cause more side effects. CBD may also change how other medicines work because they are broken down by the liver.

CBD can interact with: 

  • Many anti-seizure drugs, including brivaracetam (Briviact), carbamazepine (Tegretol), clobazam (Onfi), eslicarbazepine (Aptiom), and topiramate (Topamax)
  • Some antidepressants, like citalopram (Celexa)
  • Some cancer-fighting medicines, including everolimus (Afinitor)
  • The blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)
  • Caffeine

It’s important to also let your doctor know if you’re taking other supplements along with CBD since those can also cause different side effects. And the drugs could make side effects that CBD can cause even worse. 

The bottom line is to talk with your health care provider about the CBD products you are taking and be completely honest about your dosing.

When Do You Call for Help if CBD Causes a Serious Medical Reaction?

Some side effects might go away as your body gets used to CBD. But others may need medical attention. Get help if you have: 

  • Loss of strength 
  • A rash
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in your walking or balance
  • Clumsiness or unsteadiness
  • Drooling
  • Trouble sleeping

A 2021 CDC health advisory warned that some CBD products on the market may contain delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an ingredient found in marijuana that produces a high. This type of THC hasn’t been widely studied, but it could cause a severe reaction. That may include a hard time breathing, slurred speech, low blood pressure, uncoordinated movement, trouble moving, and even a coma. In those cases, call 911 or have someone call for you. 

Show Sources

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Mayo Clinic: “What are the benefits of CBD – and is it safe to use?” “Cannabidiol (Oral route).” 

MedlinePlus: “Cannabidiol.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “CBD products are everywhere. But do they work?”

CDC: “CBD: What You Need to Know,” “Increases in Availability of Cannabis Products Containing Delta-8 THC and Reported Cases of Adverse Events.”

Current Neuropharmacology: “Cannabidiol Adverse Effects and Toxicity.”

FDA: “What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD.”

The Gerontological Society of America: “Medical Uses of Cannabidiol (CBD) in Older Adults: A Focused Discussion On Safety.”