Is CBD oil good for you? Bad for you? Something in between? What are the side effects of CBD oil? Stomach problems are a potential side effect of CBD, but it’s more likely other ingredients in gummies and oils causing your issue: here’s how to fix it. Answers To: -Why are Edibles Inconsistent? -Why are Edibles Expensive? -Why do Edibles Taste Bad? -Do Edibles Cause Digestive or Health Issues? -Why Don’t Edibles Get Me High?
What Are the Side Effects of CBD Oil?
Is CBD oil good for you? Bad for you? Something in between? What are the side effects of CBD oil?
Cannabidiol, or CBD oil, is an extract from the cannabis plant. It has boomed in the wake of the legalized marijuana movement, now that businesses can grow and sell the substance freely in several states.
Advocates market CBD oil typically as a health supplement, and they do so comprehensively. It has started showing up everywhere from web banners to smoothie shops. While it has few recreational properties, CBD oil’s boom in recent years is through the quasi-medical field. Like turmeric, ginseng and tinctures, CBD oil promises to ease a wide variety of ailments without the invasiveness of pharmaceutical drugs.
The question is… what is it really doing to you?
Does CBD Oil Work?
Cannabidiol is one of the two active ingredients in marijuana, but on its own is not enough to get you high. It can, though, help you feel better under the right circumstances.
While doctors and researchers take CBD oil’s role in medicine seriously, much of its profile has been raised by salesmen who make extravagant promises that no medicine (no less supplement) could hope to fulfill.
Some CBD oil salesmen promise that their product can cure everything from anxiety to cancer. They cram it into every product that can soak up a liquid, including gummies, shampoo, toothpastes and even pills for your cat. In the low-water mark for any “medical” supplement, you can now buy it at many juice bars and coffee shops as an additive that can somehow take your banana-strawberry smoothie to 11.
All of which is a shame, because this associates CBD oil with the bottomless deceit that is the world of medical supplements. Yet the substance has some early promise. As noted on Harvard Medical School’s website, CBD oil has some evidence linking it to treatment for epilepsy, seizures, chronic pain and arthritis.
There isn’t enough evidence to say that the oil definitely does help with these things, nor that simply cramming some in a milkshake will do the slightest bit of good, just that doctors are optimistic about their research. For more information on the medicine of CBD oil, see our article here.
What Are the Side Effects?
That’s how CBD oil might help. But can it hurt? Usually, no. It is generally not habit-forming, and most side effects are minor.
According to a report by the World Health Organization, “CBD appears to have little effect on conditioned place preference or intracranial self-stimulation… [It] exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”
“To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
In other words, there is no evidence at the moment that CBD oil tends to be either physically or psychologically habit forming.
Dangerous Side Effects of CBD Oil
There are some known real risks to CBD oil, however. Be absolutely certain to consult a doctor before using CBD oil if any of the below apply to you.
• It can lower your blood pressure and interact with medication.
Mostly, CBD oil is benign. Its side effects might leave you feeling unwell for a little while, but they will pass. But this is a medication, even if it is marketed carelessly, and that means it can have a powerful effect on your body.
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CBD oil can act as a blood thinner and in doing so it can lower your blood pressure. For someone who has issues with blood pressure this can pose very real risks.
It can also interact with medications through “the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does,” according to an article on the Harvard health blog. While rarely a significant concern, on certain medications these interactions can be harmful or even deadly, according to the FDA. If you have blood pressure issues, are taking prescription drugs or have ever been warned about ingesting fruit juice, citrus or fermented products, consult your doctor before touching CBD oil.
• It can make Parkinson’s disease worse.
Some research indicates that CBD oil can exacerbate the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. This research is ongoing, but patients should avoid the product until more definitive results come out.
Mild Side Effects of CBD Oil
Most of the side effects of CBD oil are moderate. Unless you fall into one of the specific categories above, the odds are that this is a generally benign product with limited negative consequences, according to one research paper. Most of those include:
It can cause nausea and general sickness.
Nausea and gastrointestinal issues are a pretty common side effect of CBD oil. This can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and other symptoms associated with a digestive problem (think how you would feel after eating something that disagreed with you). In part, some people simply don’t digest CBD oil well. This is not uncommon with oils and supplements.
However, this is also often caused by the fact that this is an unregulated supplement. There are no standards for dosage and safe measurement, so it’s quite possible that you could get an amount far in excess of what your body can handle. At this point, your body will simply flush it out. Unpleasantly.
• It can cause drowsiness and light-headedness.
This side effect should come as no surprise. Doctors have long looked at cannabis as a treatment for sleep disorders, and CBD oil is no exception. Putting you to sleep is a feature, not a bug. Just don’t be surprised if your CBD latte doesn’t pack the caffeine punch you expected.
• It can cause loss of appetite and dry mouth.
Ironically, perhaps, for a cannabis product, CBD oil has been linked to loss of appetite in some people. Along with dry mouth, it can simply leave you feeling unpleasant after ingesting. As with most other side effects, this will pass in time.
Is CBD Oil Legal?
Like all things marijuana, the legal status of CBD oil is ambiguous and highly state-dependent. While many states have legalized it for production and sale, this still violates federal law. The Department of Justice has currently decided not to prosecute individuals for possession and sale of marijuana products in states where this is legal, but that’s a discretionary act.
Once again this gets complicated. When extracted from cannabis, CBD oil counts as a marijuana product. However, in some cases growers can produce CBD oil from hemp. The 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act made this form of CBD oil production legal under federal law.
Cannabis-extract CBD oil is typically legal in states that have also legalized recreational marijuana, however its status is usually complicated.
CBD oil in all forms is regulated as a medical supplement, because this is typically how it is advertised. As a result, only five states currently have no significant restrictions on its sale and consumption. Every other state has either restricted it through marijuana laws or limits the sale of CBD oil in some form, whether through food and drink regulation, medical regulation or other forms of restriction.
In short, there’s a different answer for this question for every single state. Make sure to research the laws of your state carefully, and for more information check out our article here.
The Bottom Line
Like most supplements, CBD oil rarely does what it promises. It does have some early medical potential, and doctors may prescribe it for patients at risk of seizure or with inflammatory issues. However, as an over-the-counter oil or when infused into a snack cake it probably won’t do you much good. You may see some benefits in connection with CBD oil’s anti-anxiety or sleep aid properties, but the odds are that any real improvements are largely psychosomatic.
Still, if it works for you there’s probably no harm in it either. Unless you fall into one of the specific categories listed above, CBD oil’s side effects are generally mild and of limited duration. Like with all medical changes, alert your doctor if you begin taking it regularly, but otherwise it will probably do neither harm nor good.
Here’s What to Do if Your CBD Edibles are Giving You Stomach Issues
There are a multitude of reasons you might be taking CBD, but getting some side effects can easily make it feel like the benefits aren’t worth it. Having stomach issues is one of the more common groups of side effects from CBD products, including edibles but especially with oils. However, there is good news: most of the time, the side effect comes from other ingredients in the product and not the CBD itself. And if it is the CBD, chances are your dosage is too high and this is the cause of the issue.
But why does it happen? How can you tell what’s causing the problem? And what should you do about it?
- CBD can cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress, but this isn’t very common and is usually linked to high doses.
- If you get stomach ache from edible gummies, it’s probably another ingredient in the gummies causing the issue.
- MCT or coconut based CBD oils can cause stomach aches too.
- Try another type of CBD product (such as a different edible, vape pen or capsule) and reduce your dose if you’re experiencing problems.
- Drinking chamomile or ginger tea, taking acetaminophen or using Pepto-Bismol can give you immediate relief.
Stomach Issues are a Common Side Effect of CBD
There have been loads of clinical studies on CBD, and – as with all new treatments – side effects are one thing they always consider. A review of the evidence from 2017 went through all of the relevant animal and human data, and generally found that the side effects were minimal and limited, generally being a plus-point for CBD compared to other treatments. However, like all treatments that actually do something, it does have some side effects.
The research covered in the paper identified a few side effects in particular, tiredness, diarrhea and changes in appetite and weight. Generally speaking, CBD is helpful for gastrointestinal issues, but this means it interacts with this area of the body and makes side effects possible, and gastrointestinal distress is often reported.
Note that CBD can also interact with other medications, in the same way as grapefruit, so you should avoid using it if your medication has the “grapefruit warning.”
Is it the CBD or the Edible?
While CBD can cause gastrointestinal issues by itself, it seems to be related to high dosages more than a necessary impact of CBD. This means that if CBD gummies are giving you a stomach ache, there are two major possibilities: either you’re taking too much CBD when you eat some, or it’s something else in the edibles causing your problem.
Assuming you’re taking CBD for some other purpose, the best approach is to try CBD in some other form. For example, you can try a different type of edible, a vape pen, flower, a capsule or even a tincture (although more on that in a minute). If this isn’t an option, you can try a much smaller dose of the edible to see if that still affects your stomach.
If you can find a different form of CBD to try, then you’ll be able to work out what the exact problem is. If you don’t experience the same symptoms with another type of CBD, then you know it was an ingredient in the gummy rather than the CBD. If you can only try a lower dose, if the symptoms aren’t as bad (or don’t appear) then it was probably related to the dosage you were taking.
CBD Oil is Likely Worse than Edibles for Your Stomach
If you’re having issues with edibles, you may be tempted to try the more traditional CBD oil instead, but you need to be cautious of some ingredients. MCT oil, for example, is known to cause stomach issues for some people, and most people who experience problems with stomach aches and CBD are using oil containing it. It’s also possible that CBD oil with coconut oil as a carrier could also cause problems.
There are many other carrier oils you can use with CBD, so it’s worth trying other options if you also have problems when consuming some oils but still want to take CBD in this way. Another potential issue is the minimal regulation for CBD products, so it’s important to buy your oil from reputable sources, ideally with a lab report to confirm purity and the cannabinoid mix in the oil.
How to Avoid Problems in Future
If you’ve been having problems with stomach aches from CBD edibles, the solutions follow directly from the discussion above.
First, try CBD in another form. It’s more likely that it’s something in the gummy other than CBD which is causing your issue. Try a non-MCT or coconut-based oil, vaping or capsules. Even a different type of edible may be much more tolerable. If you find that something else works, it’s worth looking at the specific ingredients in the gummies that caused you problems: you might be able to identify the component that’s giving you issues and even try other gummies not containing it in future.
Secondly, try lowering your dose of CBD. It’s less likely that the CBD itself is causing you issues, but research shows that it is possible, especially with higher doses. It’s likely not ideal to have to reduce the amount of CBD you’re taking to help with whatever the issue is, but if you lower the dose you might be able to find the right balance for relief without unpleasant side effects.
Both of these solutions unfortunately involve a lot of trial and error, but once you’ve worked out the exact problem then you’ll be in a much better position.
How to Soothe Your Stomach
If you’re in pain right now and you want help for that, it’s best to follow standard advice for stomach problems. If it’s cramping related to diarrhea, you can try Pepto-Bismol, and even simple pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help with stomach pains of all types. Alternatively, drink chamomile, peppermint, ginger, fennel or cinnamon tea, do some gentle exercise (such as yoga) and eat anti-inflammatory foods (such as blueberries, leafy greens, tomatoes, cherries and more).
Luckily for people who want to continue using CBD, it’s more likely that another ingredient in the oil or gummy is the cause for your stomach ache. The challenge is identifying what it is or which products don’t cause you issues, so you can easily avoid problems in future. If your dosage of CBD is too high, you may need to reduce it, but it’s unlikely you will have to stop taking CBD altogether for relief from other issues.
The 5 Problems with Edibles
Edible cannabis products are known for their strong effects and long experience durations – however, they do have their drawbacks.
The most common complaints about edibles are around inconsistent effects, expensive pricing, bad taste, worries about negative health effects, and the all too common question:” Why don’t edibles get me high?”
There are some explanations behind these issues that can help consumers better understand how edibles work – and why edibles might not be the best consumption method for everyone.
In this article we will give some insight on the pros and cons of edibles, in hopes that consumers can make the best informed decision on if edibles are the right method for them.
Below are the 5 Biggest Problems people report with edibles.
Why are Edibles Inconsistent?
This is one of the major problems with edibles; why are the effects so unpredictable?
Before the rise of lab testing, edibles were incredibly difficult to accurately dose during production and consumption. Due to the uneven infusion of compounds, separate doses from the same batch of edibles could produce extremely different effects.
Additionally, not knowing the starting cannabis material & infusion type of an edible makes predicting effects almost impossible. Thankfully, edible companies in legal state cannabis markets are making strides at addressing these issues.
State required lab testing is the most effective advancement in producing consistent edibles. This happens at multiple stages of the production process, making it much easier to know the overall dose and serving size of an edible.
Another step that edible companies are taking to ensure consistency in their products is the use of uniform starting materials, establishing relationships with suppliers that maintain a reliable source of quality cannabis for production.
Some companies even create strain-specific infusions to add another layer of consistency. This allows consumers to estimate the type of effects they can experience based on their reaction to the strain itself.
Lastly, many edible producers are becoming aware of the impact of the Entourage Effect on cannabis experiences, planning their recipes with these interactions in mind.
If you’re not familiar with the Entourage Effect, it is the principle that the full matrixes of compounds in cannabis (like cannabinoids, Terpenes, flavonoids, etc.) interact with each other in unique ways to produce different, nuanced effects when consumed together.
By maintaining the natural ratios of THC, CBD, minor cannabinoids like CBG and THCV, and the Terpenes that give the cannabis its scent/flavor, edible produces can keep those specific effects produced by that cannabis type more consistent in their edible product.
Producers can also add in additional Terpenes to try to control the nuance of the effects experienced, such as adding Myrcene to create a more relaxed feeling or Pinene for a more energizing effect.
While Terpenes can affect people in different ways, many of them provide more predictable effects for most consumers. Paying attention to the Terpenes types and concentrations in edibles can help you find a consistent edible with repeatable effects.
Why are Edibles Expensive?
Why are edibles so much more expensive than cannabis flower? There are several factors to consider when explaining the higher price of edibles.
The biggest reason edibles are priced so high is because of the amount of processing required to create them.
Not only must the starting cannabis be purchased from grower, it must then be infused into the ingredients of a manufactured food product to create the edible, and also be packaged and branded for sale by the edible company. All while receiving lab testing during the production process.
Each of these processing steps can add several additional costs to the bottom line of creating that edible.
Another explanation behind the increased price of edibles is the amount of specialization & expertise required to produce quality edibles.
Crafting a high-quality edible requires in-depth recipe research & development, sourcing quality ingredients, and formulating an infusion method that will deliver multiple important factors such as taste, potency, etc.
So while the price for an edible might be a bit higher than a similar quantity of flower, what you’re really getting is a high-quality, dose verified cannabis product made by food artisans with your best experience in mind.
Additionally, edibles give you much longer experience durations and even stronger effects than an equal amount of cannabis flower. So, not only is the edible a tested infused food product, it actually provides cannabis benefits beyond what flower can offer.
Why do Edibles Taste Bad?
This problem ultimately boils down to personal preference – some consumers absolutely love the earthy flavor of cannabis edibles, and for other consumers even the slightest taste of cannabis can be a deal-breaker.
There are a few simple explanations behind why edibles can pack such a strong cannabis flavor, and some options out there for those who are interested in trying edibles but don’t want to taste their weed.
The most obvious explanation behind why edibles can taste off-putting to some is that they are packed with cannabis material – especially for whole-plant infusions, where some of the chlorophyll and other plant matter can wind up in the final cannabis product and create an earthy taste.
High-quality edible makers will refine their infused butter or oil to reduce the amount of plant matter captured, but even the most rigorous refinement process can’t remove every trace of cannabis taste from a whole-plant edible.
While terpenes have the benefit of potentially helping to modulate effects, they do underscore the cannabis-reminiscent flavor in the final edible.
However, terpenes are also used in aromatherapy, cosmetics, and as food additives due to their pleasant scent and flavor, so terpenes can actually add a nice flavor to full spectrum edibles.
A cannabis flavor can be nice to some consumers, but it’s a hard line for others that prevents them from experimenting with edibles at all. For those consumers, edibles made with distillate or isolate are likely to be the best choice, as the lack of plant material in the starting cannabis product will produce less earthy flavor in the final product.
If a cannabis flavor in your edibles is a big issue for you, starting with an isolate infused edible may be the way to go – just keep in mind that when you lose the whole-plant material, you are also losing the full spectrum of cannabis compounds, which will impact the effects you experience.
Do Edibles Cause Digestive or Health Issues?
In this section we discuss…
Do edibles cause bloating, gas or heartburn?
Will edibles upset my stomach, or cause constipation?
Do marijuana edibles cause heart damage, heart disease, or impact heart rate?
Do edibles cause liver damage?
While most people are aware that there are no acutely dangerous side-effects to consuming cannabis, there can still be some uncomfortable physical sensations from eating edibles that lead many to wonder what the health risks of marijuana may be.
Aside from the potential for accidental THC overconsumption, which can certainly lead to nausea and other physical symptoms, some people may experience some digestive discomfort in response to cannabis and edibles.
However, this is more similar to lactose intolerance than a guaranteed side effect – some people are more sensitive to consumed cannabis than others, and it may not be the right fit for them personally, but it will likely not be the experience of most consumers.
More research is still needed in this area, but early studies suggest that some may be allergic to cannabis, in which case ingesting plant matter could certainly cause discomfort. It’s important to make note of your individual experiences, and take some precautions to set yourself up for a good cannabis experience.
For example, try not to eat an edible on a completely empty stomach, as the digestion of the cannabis plant material can increase the likelihood of stomach pain and gas.
Consuming on an empty stomach can also increase the likelihood of heartburn after edible consumption, so eat a fatty snack along with, or just before, your edible to help coat your stomach and metabolize the cannabis more effectively.
Some edible makers might make ingredient choices that include cannabinoid-friendly fats to help eliminate this possible discomfort -for instance, at Periodic Caramels we use housemade hemp-butter in our CBD caramel edibles to ensure that the cannabinoids have a fat carrier to help them metabolize properly with minimal discomfort.
It’s also always a good idea to ensure you’re adequately hydrated before and during cannabis use as dehydration can lead to negative physical side-effects that cannabis use would compound, such as light-headedness, stomach upset, constipation, and others. Keep plenty of water on hand for any cannabis experimentation.
Cannabis use, especially too high of a THC dose can have some temporary impact on heart rate – because THC is a vasodilator (vaso- meaning related to the blood vessels, –dilator meaning to open or enlarge) it does increase blood vessel size, which can result in an increased heart rate to maintain constant blood flow.
In certain cases, again mostly in cases of THC overconsumption, it may even feel like the heart is racing dangerously fast. However, there has never been a reported case of heart failure, heart disease, or prolonged arrhythmia directly caused by cannabis or edible use. Any heart-related impacts are temporary and should not be dangerous in normal situations for healthy individuals.
If you do begin to feel your heart racing during cannabis consumption, slow or pause your consumption, drink plenty of water, and sit in a calm and quiet place if possible to regain control of your situation and work to slow your heart rate. Mindfulness and awareness that the symptoms are temporary and not serious can often help you take charge of the situation and short circuit the negative feelings.
Lastly, there’s been a fair amount of buzz recently around the idea that cannabis, and specifically CBD, can be damaging to the liver. This is mostly the result of a 2019 research study that found liver damage in some mice who were exposed to CBD, which the media ran with as potential proof of a dark side to CBD…
The unspoken caveat here is that the experiment was designed specifically to find dangerous doses of CBD, and liver damage only appeared at astronomically high levels of cannabinoids in lab tests, far beyond what a person would ever reasonably consume.
Standard dose ranges of CBD did not exhibit negative outcomes, and in fact separate research has suggested that many cannabinoids may even be able to help protect the liver from cellular damage & prevent certain liver diseases.
More research is needed in this field as well, but as it stands right now, there is no credible research suggesting that recreational or typical medical doses of cannabinoids cause liver damage, when taken in edible form or any other cannabis delivery method. So while stomach discomfort may be a possibility with edibles, any liver damage or other acute health risks are highly unlikely.
Why Don’t Edibles Get Me high?
Earlier we discussed the fact that edibles typically produce much stronger cannabis effects than inhalation of flower – however, do you know someone who claims that edibles don’t affect them at all?
The reality is that some consumers do not feel psychoactive effects from edibles, and while science is still working to understand this phenomenon, there might be a few explanations at hand.
First, cannabis is known to have an incredibly variable effective dose range – meaning that some consumers will feel effects at 2.5mg of consumed THC, some will not feel effects until they reach the 25mg range, and some may take 250mg and still feel no effects.
Due to this wide variance in the dose at which effects are felt, it’s very hard to establish a baseline for what dose will produce certain effects.
It could be that some consumers have a very high baseline THC tolerance, so they’ve never actually consumed a high enough dose to reach their ideal effects range, so they believe that edibles cannot affect them at all.
There is also First-Pass Metabolism effects to consider – First-Pass Metabolism is how your liver filters out foreign compounds from your bloodstream before the blood circulates throughout the rest of the body. Just like standard digestive metabolism, First Pass Metabolism can be stronger or weaker than “normal” depending on the individual’s body.
Generally speaking, when an edible is ingested a majority of the active THC is wasted out by the liver before it circulates to the brain and can cause an effect, but the amount of THC that gets through this metabolism process is usually still strong enough to cause noticeable psychoactive effects.
However, it may be the case that an individual has such a strong First-Pass Metabolism that the remaining THC is too diluted to have noticeable psychoactive effects once it reaches the brain. For these consumers, even extremely high doses of THC may be filtered out by the liver, leaving edibles essentially ineffective on them.
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For consumers with these experiences, sublingual absorption may be the answer to extended oral cannabis effects – when an edible is dissolved completely under the tongue rather than chewed and swallowed, the cannabinoids enter the mucus membranes and glands of the mouth, penetrating the bloodstream directly while bypassing the liver and its metabolic functions.
If you’ve thought to yourself “why don’t marijuana edibles get me high?”, try the sublingual edible consumption method and see if you get noticeable cannabis effects from smaller edible doses taken sublingually.
Edibles, like all cannabis consumption methods, have their pros/ cons and will be a better fit for some consumers.
It’s important to consider your individual wants and needs from cannabis, examine whether or not you experience the problems outlined above when trying edibles, and decide from there what the best cannabis consumption method is for you at a given time and for a certain situation.
We hope this discussion helped shed some light on the factors behind consuming edibles and their effects. Leave us your comments or questions below!