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What are the side effects of CBD?



CBD has plenty of health benefits, but consumers should be aware of the potential side effects

While CBD undoubtedly has many uses – bringing pain relief and calming properties to thousands of people – like any substance, it can have side effects.

Here, Cannabis Health takes a look at the most common adverse reactions, as well as assessing their severity.

Anxiety and mood changes

While many people use CBD to relieve anxiety, in some people and some concentrations, it may have the opposite effect, and even lead to panic attacks. 

Symptoms include headaches and feelings of dizziness, as well as shortness of breath, which can be very worrying, especially for those who have specifically chosen CBD as a means to relieve anxiety. There may also be some instances where traces of THC may still be found in CBD oil, exacerbating the feelings of dread and panic. To avoid such dangers, it is important for customers to make sure they buy a high-quality CBD oil from a reputable source.

Digestive issues

CBD oil also has the potential to cause an upset stomach, manifesting itself in loss of appetite, nausea or diarrhea. 

Such side effects are more likely if you already have a sensitive stomach, or if you ingest the oil on an empty stomach – it’s always best to take around 30 minutes after food. 

In addition, there is some evidence that the use of CBD oil may lead to increased levels of liver enzymes, which are a marker of liver damage. Therefore, people with liver disease should use CBD oil with caution, preferably under the care of a doctor who can regularly check enzyme levels.


Another common pitfall of taking any substance, whether natural or pharmaceutical, is how it may interact with any other medicine. 

One of the most common interactions is with medications that come with a so-called ‘grapefruit warning’, such as certain blood pressure and cholesterol treatments. Both grapefruit and CBD interfere with cytochromes P450 (CYPs), a group of enzymes that are important for drug metabolism.

By interfering with CYP450, CBD may either increase the toxicity or decrease the effectiveness of these drugs.

Low blood pressure and dizziness

While relaxation is a common effect – and, indeed, the goal – of CBD consumption, sometimes the effect is too severe.

High doses of CBD oil can cause a small drop in blood pressure in some people, which will usually pass after a few minutes. However, if the problem persists, or you already have blood pressure issues, CBD may not be right for you.

Blood pressure aside, some people may feel a dizzy for a few moments after CBD oil hits their system, but this typically passes within a few minutes on its own, or can usually be resolved by lying down, having a drink of tea or coffee, or eating a piece of chocolate.

It is also advised that pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid CBD, as there is evidence it can cross the placenta or breast milk.

While CBD is a real benefit to many people, if you have any long-term health conditions and/or are taking other prescribed medicines, it is always wise to check with your healthcare provider before trying anything new.


Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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