CBD has been shown to have so many positive effects on the body that most researchers believe they are just scratching the surface of the medical applications of this potentially miraculous compound. Yet, even as you apply CBD lotions to your face, administer CBD tinctures under your tongue and nibble on CBD chocolate, you might have some questions about how the compound works and whether it has any potential downsides. Here are a few of those questions answered, so you can go back to using CBD safely and happily.
How Does CBD Work Inside the Body?
Almost every animal has an internal system called the endogenous cannabinoid system, or ECS. One of the most important systems in the body, the ECS is responsible largely for maintaining homeostasis, or internal balance and smooth functionality despite a shifting external environment. The ECS communicates with the brain and almost every other bodily system, to include the digestive system, the reproductive system, the immune system, the cardiovascular system and more. To do this, it creates its own compounds, called endocannabinoids, which bind to different receptors around the body to manifest different effects.
Previously, researchers believed that CBD bound to CB2 receptors, which are primarily located in organs related to the immune system. However, further research has demonstrated that CBD molecules don’t seem to bind directly to the ECS at all; instead, they seem to influence the ECS and other systems to behave in slightly different ways. For example, CBD is known to make certain ECS receptors more active, which means increasing the production of certain endocannabinoids and improving binding frequency.
It is important to compare CBD vs. THC, including when it comes to how the two compounds act within the body. Unlike CBD, THC looks remarkably similar to an endocannabinoid called anandamide, which is also known as the “bliss molecule.” As a result, the body allows THC to bind to specific ECS receptors called CB1 receptors, which are primarily located in the brain, nervous system and digestive system. This is what causes THC to elicit mind-altering (and digestion-related) effects.
Are There Negative Side Effects to CBD?
The positive effects of CBD are pretty well publicized: reduced pain and tension, improved sleep, reduced anxiety and more. However, all medications — to include natural supplements — can have side effects, and CBD is no different.
Though most users tolerate CBD exceedingly well, some report minor negative effects like dry mouth, diarrhea, drowsiness and fatigue. It is also important to note that CBD might interact with other medications, especially blood thinners, so you absolutely need to consult with your doctor before you begin taking any amount of CBD to manage a health condition.
Even so, CBD is remarkably safer than its counterpart THC. Even at low doses, THC can cause minor negative symptoms like headache, dry mouth and dizziness, and many marijuana users find the high associated with THC to be uncomfortable or unsettling. Though THC can have positive effects on some health conditions, it isn’t nearly as applicable or easy to use as CBD.
What Happens When You Take Too Much CBD?
Just as negative side effects of CBD are uncommon, CBD overdoses are essentially unheard of. In fact, a 2011 review of CBD studies found that daily doses as high as 1500 milligrams are tolerated by humans without generating any severe health risks or safety concerns. If you are already taking CBD, you should recognize that 1500 milligrams is an astronomically high dose.
Yet, there are some indications that too much CBD can have lasting negative effects on the body. In some animal studies, CBD has shown the potential to result in damage to the liver. In fact, with doses as low as 50 milligrams but certainly at 200 milligrams, humans could be experiencing liver toxicity, which includes inflammation of the liver. Again, these doses are exceedingly high, so as long as you keep your daily CBD doses low, you can avoid even the slightest risk of liver damage.
The same isn’t necessarily true for THC. Though THC overdoses aren’t inherently fatal, they are much, much more dangerous. The effects of THC increase in intensity with higher doses of the drug; what might be muscle relaxation and increased appetite at lower doses becomes dangerously low blood pressure and nausea and vomiting at higher doses. Too much THC often results in intense paranoia or panic, which can compel users to put themselves in dangerous situations — like behind the wheel or near bodies of water. These symptoms typically subside with time, but THC overdoses can be deeply uncomfortable and even life-threatening in some circumstances.
Hopefully, this information has given you greater insight into CBD. In time, research will reveal even more about how CBD behaves inside the body and how we can use it to optimal effect.