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She adds, “[Another difference is that] CBD is derived from hemp and has been classified as a legal substance. Hemp has <0.3% THC. Conversely, cannabis plants such as marijuana are grown to have much higher levels of THC and are still illegal according to the FDA, although individual states vary as to their use.”
CBD might interfere with the other medications you take. Dr. Matharu-Daley says it’s important to talk to your doctor about whether CBD could affect your existing prescriptions.
“If the CBD is from a reputable source and one that has been inspected by a third-party independent lab, the content of CBD is more reliable,” notes Dr. Matharu-Daley. “The CBD should be organically grown, free of pesticides and heavy metals, and not sourced in food which can affect absorption. Generally, CBD is safe and side effects are few at low doses.”
CBD is technically an unregulated substance in the United States and therefore it ought to be used with caution. This is especially important for those taking additional medications and/or those with ongoing medical issues. That said, preliminary research on CBD and its benefits are promising in relation to helping with mild to moderate health concerns and it is generally considered a safe substance. Health professionals do not consider CBD a cure-all for serious medical issues, including cancer.
Also known as “cotton mouth,” CBD can potentially cause your mouth and eyes to feel very dry, notes Dr. Brent A. Bauer via Mayo Clinic. Though this side effect is more likely to occur with THC, it can happen with CBD, as well.
“CBD is not an intoxicating substance, whereas THC is a psychoactive that can get you high,” explains Dr. Jas Matharu-Daley, a physician and consultant for a brand that specializes in CBD production.
“Since discovering the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body in the 1990s, CBD has been researched more extensively. The ECS is a central regulatory system restoring normal balance and homeostasis in a range of human physiologic systems throughout the body and brain and has cannabinoid receptors and chemicals in its function,” explains Dr. Matharu-Daley.
“In my practice, when someone has gastrointestinal issues with CBD, we start with the product, because many times that may be a reason they are feeling sick. Just like all other health supplements, the quality and the source of CBD oil make all the difference,” Dr. Brown told POPSUGAR. Quality can be diminished if the cannabis or hemp is grown in poor soil or undergoes harsh extraction processes (often involving chemicals), or if the product is sourced from multiple locations.
Without those factors, CBD may even help treat stomach issues. “It’s been shown to help heal ulcers and decrease acid reflux,” said Dr. Kenneth Brown, MD, a board-certified gastroenterologist and doctor of internal medicine in Plano, TX, who often recommends CBD oil to his patients. “When the CBD binds to the CB1 receptor, it decreases excessive gastric acid, helps the lower esophagus prevent reflux, and increases blood flow to the lining of the stomach to help it heal quicker.”
Then there’s the issue of the carrier, as experts call it. “CBD oil is used with many carriers, including olive oil, coconut/MCT oil, grapeseed oil, emu oil, or hempseed oil,” explained Dr. Michele Ross, PhD, CEO of Infused Health and a leading cannabinoid medicine researcher. “If you are experiencing gastrointestinal distress symptoms or an upset stomach, you may have a sensitivity, especially to coconut/MCT oil, which is the most common carrier I’ve seen. Many people can experience abdominal cramping and stomach pain, especially when consuming large quantities.”
CBD is also known to help heal the digestive tract. So, why do some people have issues?
Have you ever felt sick to your stomach after taking CBD oil? If so, you’re not alone – but the reason you feel that way probably isn’t as straightforward as you think. Upset stomach, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal distress are not typically caused by cannabinoid oil itself, but rather by ingredients used to deliver CBD oil into the body or flaws during production.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, Dr. Ross suggests that you stop taking CBD oil for a day or two to identify that it’s the supplement and not some other issue (your diet, stress) that is causing your discomfort. Then, try taking the CBD oil again at half the dose you were taking before. If it’s still bothering you, try a CBD oil that uses a different carrier, or perhaps an entirely different method that’s applied to the skin, rather than through the stomach.