CBD oil side effects and risks

Worried red robot

Many supplement CBD without any problems, but some people can experience minor side effects. This article explores the safety profile of CBD, potential CBD oil side effects, and other CBD risks and safety concerns as well as how to avoid them.

CBD oil safety profile

According to a 2017 World Health Organisation (WHO) review, CBD was described as having a good safety profile. Importantly, WHO stated that there appeared to be no concerns of dependence or potential for abuse associated with CBD usage:

“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential… To date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD”

– WHO, November 2017

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Furthermore, CBD oil appears to be safe to take in a broad range of doses. Even strong doses, far greater than what is required or recommended, did not appear to cause problems. Having said that, we do not advocate taking unnecessarily high doses.

For example, the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research conducted a clinical trial using high doses of CBD and found that:

“Daily doses of CBD (700 mg) for 6 weeks did not induce any toxicity” “Confirming results from animal studies, the available clinical data suggest that CBD can be safely administered over a wide dose range”

Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an antipsychotic drug
University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brasil

This study tested CBD dosage ranges 70 times the size of a starting dose of 10mg, which some users feel benefit from. CBD’s wide dose range reflects WHO’s conclusion that CBD has a good safety profile.

For more information on how to determine your correct dosage, read our guide on how to take CBD oil.


CBD oil side effects

Many users supplement CBD without any problems, but some people can experience minor side effects. Some of these side effects may result from subpar products, potentially made from low-quality plant materials or extracted using cheaper processes.

Read our article on buying high quality CBD oil to ensure you’re supplementing with a quality CBD product. Incorrect dosages and the individual’s sensitivity to CBD are other influencing factors.


Dry mouth

A relatively mild side effect, sometimes referred to as ‘cotton mouth’, is the feeling of having dry mouth and feeling thirsty. This study explored how cannabinoids (like CBD) can inhibit saliva secretion by activation of cannabinoid receptors.

2006: ‘Inhibition of salivary secretion by activation of cannabinoid receptors’


Decreased blood pressure

This small study found that a “single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers”. While this has promising potential for treating cardiovascular disorders, for others this may cause complications. If you have blood pressure issues or take any blood pressure medications it is crucial you consult your doctor before supplementing CBD.

2017: ‘Cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers’



Often anecdotally reported in CBD communities, new users may experience mild headaches or lightheadedness when they start taking CBD. This may be linked to a decrease in blood pressure, as previously discussed. In order to prevent this, avoid taking too much CBD for a first dose, and ease into taking higher doses.



Despite some research describing CBD as a “wake-inducing agent” some CBD community members have identified tiredness and drowsiness as side effects. This symptom may be linked to the amount taken.

2008: ‘Cannabidiol is a wake-inducing agent’


Digestive problems

Some users have reported some stomach upset and diarrhea after using CBD oil. Digestive issues may also be caused by intolerances to a CBD product’s carrier oil or other additives. Usually, a carrier oil is a type of oil, like coconut oil or hemp oil, which is added to help thin the CBD oil out so that it can be dropped from a tincture. If you’re intolerant to any foods, double check the label.

CBD risks and safety concerns


Under-regulated industry:

Internationally, the CBD industry is currently under-regulated. Regulation refers to the checks and balances governments employ to control business behaviour and ensure safe, consistent products. The current level of limited regulation within the CBD industry has allowed a host of low-quality products to enter the market. For instance, a 2017 study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine revealed an alarming inconsistency of CBD product quality within the US:
“Only 30% of CBD products purchased contained an actual CBD content that was within 10% of the amount listed on the product label”
“The biggest implication is that many of these patients may not be getting the proper dosage; they’re either not getting enough for it to be effective or they’re getting too much.”

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine,
Marcel Bonn-Miller, PhD

This lack of consistency reflects the market’s under regulation and reveals that many suppliers may be cutting corners when it comes to CBD production and testing. We recommend suppliers who have every batch independently tested for CBD concentration, contaminants and heavy metals.

Poor quality products

Clinical trials evaluating the safety of CBD are using a high-quality, medical grade products. One safety concern of CBD use is that some products on the market are sourced from low-quality cannabis and aren’t tested properly for contaminants.

The cannabis plant is a bioaccumulator. This means that the plant accumulates substances, such as pesticides or heavy metals, in the soil. CBD oil extracted from plants that are contaminated with heavy metals are unsafe for consumption. This makes investigating the source of a supplier’s crop and checking if third-party laboratory testing is regularly carried out all the more important.

As a buyer, you should also be aware of how your CBD oil was extracted from the cannabis plant. Cheap methods of extraction use toxic solvents like propane and hexane. It’s possible for solvent residue to contaminate the CBD oil, which can be very harmful to the user.


Misinformation and bias

Many information sources, Facebook groups and online communities are often run by sellers masquerading as independent information sources, so be wary of biased information from those selling their own CBD product.


CBD and drug interactions

While it’s been deemed safe to consume CBD, studies have shown that CBD can impact how our bodies process other medications and drugs. If taken together, CBD essentially slows down the body’s ability to process certain types of drugs and medications, resulting in potentially dangerous side effects. For this reason, it’s highly important you consult your doctor or medical professional before supplementing CBD if you are also taking other medications.

Read our article on CBD drug interactions to learn more.


CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding

Even though CBD has been deemed safe for adult consumption, not enough studies have been carried out for it to be deemed safe for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. In line with this, most suppliers label their products as not suitable for pregnant mothers.
Further studies will reveal more details into CBD and the endocannabinoid system which regulates fertility, pregnancy and both pre- and postnatal development.