CBD oil is now widely taken by people of all ages to help treat a variety of conditions. First discovered as a counterpart to the THC within marijuana, CBD is now established as a medicine used completely separately from cannabis.
Used to help treat conditions such as eczema, Parkinson’s and, perhaps most famously, epilepsy, CBD is commonly taken orally as an extract, suspended within an inert oil.
However, as when taking any kind of medication, it is common to be concerned about its safety – you should always be skeptical about things you’re putting into your body.
After all, CBD comes from cannabis, so it’s understandable to be cautious.
Let’s find out if CBD oil really is dangerous.
Firstly, What is the substance everyone is talking about
Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is taken as a medicine, but it is indeed extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant.
However, despite its immediate association with getting high, CBD is completely non-psychoactive.
While it is the least known cannabinoid within Cannabis sativa, CBD is actually very effective at engaging with your body and acting as a medicine. CBD oil actually works quite similarly to THC with regards to the way it works with your body.
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is the health system within all mammals that interacts with cannabinoids.
When cannabinoids enter your body, they interact with the ECS and trigger different effects. THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid famous for its high, binds with the CB1 and CB2 receptors – primarily the CB1 – and over-stimulates them, causing the infamous high.
However, CBD interacts with the ECS in a very different way. Instead of binding directly to the receptors, it encourages their engagement more naturally by, in a way, setting up shop next to them.
This means that the CB1 and CB2 receptors are engaged in a more gentle, calmer manner.
This allows you to get the medicinal benefits of cannabinoid interaction with the ECS without the side effects of doing so with THC.
Additionally, the different receptors are located in different parts of the body; the CB1 receptor is primarily located in the brain and central nervous system, while the CB2 receptors are dispersed more liberally throughout the body.
This means that the different receptors have different results when activated, allowing CBD to help treat a myriad of different conditions.
However, knowing the process of how CBD interacts with your body isn’t the same as knowing that CBD oil isn’t dangerous.
So, how about it? Is CBD oil dangerous? What are the side effects and possible consequences of taking it, and is there a chance you could harm yourself?
CBD Oil’s Physical Dangers
Before we look at its effects on the human body, let’s look at what CBD oil actually is; after all, you need to understand the physical properties of a substance to first determine if there are any negative effects in the medicine itself.
As its name might make obvious, CBD oil is CBD extract suspended within inert oil. The choice of oil differs depending on the brand, but it is commonly hemp oil, so as to make it as true to form as possible.
Sometimes, for the purpose of adding flavor, coconut oil is used. The only real difference between that and using hemp oil is a bit more flavor.
With regard to the danger present in the oil, there is the slightest chance you could aspirate the oil into your lungs, potentially causing some mild symptoms associated with having lipids within the lungs, but you’d have to inhale with enormous intensity whilst you drop the CBD oil into your mouth, so it’s not exactly likely.
The only other potential problem with the oil is the fact that you’re introducing cholesterol and fats in the form of lipids, but this isn’t actually an issue as the quantity per CBD oil droplet is incredibly negligible.
With regard to the CBD itself, the extract is taken directly from high CBD cannabis strains using extraction. The method of extraction most commonly involves superheated CO2, meaning that there is no chemical additives or strange chemistry in trying to remove and concentrate the CBD – it’s just CBD and CO2.
So, as a physical substance, CBD oil isn’t going to cause any negative effects.
But what about its effects on your body and your endocannabinoid System?
CBD Oil & Its Dangers
CBD interacts with your endocannabinoid system to help you recover from a variety of medical conditions. It does this by encouraging your CB1 and CB2 receptors to get to work repairing your body. However, CBD does not discriminate in its activation.
What this means is that, if you take CBD for the purpose of treating one particular condition, you will also experience the effects as if you take it for another condition – CBD doesn’t have a “skin condition only” setting, it will engage and work on everything it can possibly affect.
For example, a study published by Rodriguez et al. which explored CBD as a sleep aid found that, depending on when you administered CBD, the effects of it changed.
The study showed that, if taken in a normal period of wakefulness, such as the middle of the day, CBD acted to encourage awareness and wakefulness. However, if taken in the evening when one expects to be asleep, CBD makes it easier to fall asleep through its pain reduction abilities.
This means that, if you take CBD for a different condition, you will also need to contend with the fact that your wakefulness might be affected.
Another example is CBD’s abilities as a vascular relaxant. Jadoon et al. discovered in their seminal study that CBD acts to help reduce the tension and strain felt by your circulatory system. This is incredibly useful if you suffer from high blood pressure or other heart strains, as it lowers your effective blood pressure and puts less strain on your heart.
However, if you take CBD for a completely different reason, you might find your blood pressure is lowered as an additional consequence. The amount its lowered by isn’t usually enough to cause worry, but if you already suffer from low blood pressure, you might find this is a problem.
It’s important to note, however, that different doses of CBD oil produce different effects. A doctor might prescribe a certain dosage to treat one condition, knowing full well that it won’t be able to cause the effects of a different dosage due to the amounts.
This is because the ECS is triggered in different ways by different doses of CBD oil. To obtain the vascular relaxant capabilities, for example, it requires quite a high dosage, usually taken twice a day. If you’re taking CBD oil for the purpose of treating a skin condition – something that requires a relatively low dosage – then you have no cause to worry.
However, what about addiction? Is there any risk of addiction with CBD oil?
Is CBD Addictive?
The risk of addiction is something that always needs to be considered when taking medication. Thanks to the burgeoning opioid crisis that is severely damaging Middle America, it is very understandable why so many people are skeptical of taking any type of medication for fear of eventually becoming addicted to it.
Thankfully, CBD oil is not addictive whatsoever – in fact, neither is cannabis. Well, at least not in the way you’re probably thinking of addiction.
Addiction to drugs is generally thought of in the way that people become addicted to opioids, which is a physiological addiction. This means that the body becomes physically dependant on the substance and will experience withdrawal symptoms if it doesn’t have access to it – very similar to coffee!
However, cannabis can actually be addictive psychologically, which means that you become so used to taking it that you begin to rely on it mentally. This is more comparable to an addiction to video games or watching TV; it’s something you enjoy and use frequently, so it upsets you to not take it. This addiction is not in any way as severe as other addictions to substances, as researched by Anthony et al. in the Journal for Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology.
This holds true for cannabis because of the pleasure in the psychoactive high when taking THC, but CBD oil is entirely non-psychoactive.
This means that it is impossible to become addicted to CBD oil, as there’s nothing really there to become addicted to.
Additionally, the regular use of cannabis is not linked in any way to long-term health problems, as explored by Meier et al.’s study for the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The only possible long term effects experienced are a result of the methods of consumption, such as the dangers of smoke inhalation and combustible substances when smoking marijuana through a joint.
CBD oil alone, however, has no discernible side effects of serious consequences.
The only slight risk of taking CBD is that you might find yourself receiving medical treatments for conditions you don’t already have, but your doctor can modulate and regulate your dosage so as to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
There are still decades of research still to do before we can say we’ve fully explored cannabinoids, but all this means that, no, CBD oil isn’t dangerous.
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