Understanding and Managing CBD Side Effects

Understanding and Managing CBD Side Effects

Don't let these spoil your CBD experience!

2 May 2024 | Hannah Rubery

Understanding and Managing CBD Side Effects (image)

CBD, the wellness wizkid of our age, has been woven into the fabric of our health and self-care routines, promising a natural remedy for a myriad of ailments. For all its accolades in the holistic health sphere, CBD is not a one-way ticket to a side-effect-free utopia. Like every potent compound, it comes with its own list of baggage—a curious mix of the mild, the occasional, and the truly infrequent. In this comprehensive guide, we're unpacking the common side effects of CBD and arming you with the know-how to traverse the wellness quest unscathed.

The CBD Wave: Understanding Its Meteoric Rise

In recent years, CBD's popularity has skyrocketed, transforming from a niche wellness product to a supermarket staple. Derived from the cannabis sativa plant, CBD is the non-intoxicating sister to its flashier sibling, THC. With its alleged capacity to address conditions ranging from chronic pain to anxiety, many are looking to CBD for a slice of its reported benefits.

Why the fuss? To understand the clamour, one must dissect the driving forces. A potent blend of anecdotal support, evolving legislation, and a growing body of scientific research has propelled CBD into the limelight.

Deconstructing the Common Side Effects of CBD

Despite its reputation as a benign wellness ally, and agreement by specialists that CBD is generally well-processed by the human body, CBD is not without its quirks. We're beginning with an exploration of the most frequently reported side effects encountered by CBD users. Diving deep into each one—from the seemingly trifling to the potentially bothersome—we’ll inspect the extent of their impact and strategies to manage them effectively.

Man holding head against sunset (image)

Dry Mouth (Cottonmouth)

CBD, like its close kin THC, can sometimes leave the mouth as parched as a desert plain. Derived from its role in reducing saliva production, dry mouth is a salient side effect of CBD consumption, especially in vape form. While often mild and temporary, persistent dry mouth can lead to discomfort and oral health concerns.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS)—a regulatory network of endocannabinoids and their receptors in the body—is where we start our quest for an explanation. CBD's interaction with the ECS, particularly the CB1 receptor found in the salivary glands, can cause a temporary reduction in saliva production.

Combatting cottonmouth can be as simple as sipping water throughout the day - as you should be doing anyway! Sugar-free gum can also stimulate saliva, offering relief. Users are encouraged to stay hydrated and monitor their CBD intake, especially in conjunction with other substances that may contribute to dry mouth.

Changes in Appetite

For some, consuming CBD may lead to a curious phenomenon—an alteration in the desire to eat. This change can manifest as an increase in hunger or, conversely, a decrease that might put even the most resolute dieter to shame.

CBD's influence on the ECS is the likely culprit here too, with the compound known to stimulate appetites by interacting with cannabinoid receptors related to hunger and satiety. Yet, research on CBD’s direct impact on eating habits is nascent, and individual experiences can vary.

Balanced, nutrient-dense eating habits are essential. Sensible snacking or structured meal plans can help manage increases in appetite, while smaller, more frequent meals might be necessary if CBD consumption leads to a decrease in hunger.

Digestive Distress: Navigating Diarrhoea

A less-talked-about but no less significant side effect is the occurrence of diarrhoea after taking CBD. While typically short-lived, it's a hurdle that can disrupt the flow of your day and pose an inconvenience for users on the go.

The root cause of CBD-induced diarrhoea may be twofold, involving both the body's ability to digest and CBD's interaction with the ECS. For some, CBD’s influence on digestive processes might lead to looser stools, while for others, carrier oils or other ingredients within CBD products could play a role.

Selecting high-quality CBD products with minimal additives can reduce the incidence of digestive discomfort. Adjusting dosages and time of consumption can also help—starting low and slow, and gradually increasing intake over time, can allow the body to acclimate without creating an urgent situation.

woman running over hills against sunset (image)

The Fatigue Factor

One of the more common side effects associated with CBD is fatigue. Users may experience a general sense of tiredness or lethargy that can affect daily activities and productivity.

CBD’s potential calming effects have been cited as a cause for the observed fatigue. By interacting with the ECS, CBD could indirectly influence sleep and wake cycles, potentially leading to excess sleepiness during the day.

Understanding the relationship between CBD consumption and rest is crucial. Using CBD products that are specifically designed for sleep or relaxation before bedtime—rather than throughout the day—can help mitigate any drowsiness that may arise as a side effect. Proper rest and sleep hygiene practices are always essential in managing fatigue.

Managing CBD's Side Effects: The User's Manual

Now that we’ve identified CBD’s common companions, the next step is to offer strategies to handle them with ease. We're providing a toolkit of tips to help you minimize or even prevent these unwelcome effects from derailing your CBD experience.

Crafting a Lifestyle to Lend a Hand

Tweaking your daily routine can work wonders in pre-empting side effects. Simple tricks like paying attention to your fluid intake, mindful eating, and scheduling adequate rest can significantly impact your CBD encounter.

Ensuring steady and predictable mealtimes can help stabilize the influence of CBD on your appetite. Integrating CBD consumption into a regular routine can also help your body adjust more effectively to its effects.

Keeping a water bottle within arm's reach and opting for foods high in water content—such as fruits and vegetables—can stave off dry mouth. Maintaining optimal hydration can counteract the diuretic properties that might lead to diarrhoea.

person holding bottle of CBD oil and a hemp leaf (image)

The Threshold Question: Dosing Wisely

Among the most invaluable tools at your disposal is the keen awareness of dosage. Opting for the lowest effective amount of CBD can be a revelation, reducing the odds of severe side effects and allowing for a more controlled, supervised manner of supplementing.

Start with a low dose and incrementally increase until the desired effect is achieved. Always heed the recommendations of the product and consult with a healthcare provider, especially when dealing with chronic conditions or alongside other medications.

The Parade of Professionals

When in doubt, or when side effects persist or intensify, consulting a healthcare professional is a must. Those with existing health conditions or on stringent medication may require unique approaches, necessitating expert counsel to ensure a safe and compatible CBD experience; you may even be advised that you cannot take CBD due to the medication you are taking to avoid potential problems.

It's imperative to note the red flags for CBD side effects. If symptoms are prolonged, unmanageable, or escalate unexpectedly, it's time to seek a health expert. Professionals can provide tailored guidance on how to interact with CBD products safely.

The Odyssey of Unexpected Reactions

In the event that CBD leads to unexpected or intensely distressing side effects, it's crucial to act promptly and assertively.

Understanding the severity of side effects is paramount. Symptoms that interfere with daily life or persist for an extended period should be reported and investigated. Abdominal pain, severe changes in mood, or any allergic reaction—such as rash, swelling, or difficulty breathing—require immediate medical attention.

Consistent and detailed reporting of side effects can be beneficial not only to you, but your healthcare professional should you need to head to the GP. Together, you can make informed decisions about the continuation, adjustment, or cessation of CBD use, maintaining an open dialogue throughout the process.

man holding bottle of CBD oil and a pipette of CBD drops (image)

The Essential Role of Educated Consumption

Armed with knowledge and prudence, we can harness the potential of CBD with confidence. The key takeaway is the need for informed and educated use, with regular reviews of best practices and a commitment to staying abreast of the latest information on CBD’s interactions with the body.

Amidst the chatter of side effects, the conversation around CBD should extend to the communal, encompassing shared experiences, support, and dialogue. Engage with the burgeoning community of users, learning from each other's journeys, and finding solace in the shared narrative.

While CBD’s side effects underscore the importance of a measured approach, they do not eclipse its vast potential as a health and wellness supplement. With a balanced and judicious way of incorporating CBD into your regimen, you can unlock the wealth of benefits it offers.