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What are the effects of CBD? Everything you need to know

The cannabidiol or CBD is a cannabinoid found naturally in cannabis that does not produce the psychoactive effects of THC. This means that CBD does not “get you high but its properties on the body and mind are different. In this post, we review the effects of CBD on the body, as well as its possible adverse effects.

What is CBD and what are its effects?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the major components of hemp(Cannabis spp), and is also found in marijuana plants. It is classified within the group of cannabinoids, which are a type of molecules characteristic of cannabis. There are more than 70 different types of cannabinoids (1), which appear in different proportions in each cannabis plant.

The two most representative natural cannabinoids in cannabis are THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol) and THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol). THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol), the major constituent of marijuana, and CBD. which is the major component of marijuana, and CBD. THC is responsible for the most well-known or characteristic psychoactive effects (“high”) of smoking weed or hashish.

In contrast, CBD does not produce such mental effects. Moreover, CBD naturally interacts with THC and attenuates its psychoactive effects, which explains the different effects of different strains of marijuana or hashish. Thus, cannabis plants with high THC and low CBD will produce potent psychoactive effects. On the contrary, cannabis with a lot of CBD and little THC are more sedative or tranquilizing.

How does CBD act in the body?

The mechanisms of action of cannabinoids were a mystery until the 1990s. It was then discovered that THC and CBD were able to bind to specific cell receptors exerting effects in the organism, thus discovering the existence of the endocannabinoid system. endocannabinoid system system in all vertebrates (SEC).

The discovery of the endocannabinoid system posed an unknown: penguins, sardines and desert foxes, all vertebrates, were also found to have cannabinoid receptors. But it was impossible for these animals to have contact with the cannabis plant.

So, what was the biological meaning of the presence of cannabinoid receptors in these animals? From that reasoning, scientists realized that all animals naturally synthesize cannabis-like molecules, called endocannabinoids or endogenous cannabinoids.

At this point, a door was opened on the study of what specific biological functions CBD fulfilled, which had not been investigated until then.

Effects of CBD on the endocannabinoid system

Studies on the therapeutic potential of cannabis began around 1970 and focused on THC. At the time, CBD was considered an inert compound with no therapeutic effect.. The discovery of the specific action of CBD on the endocannabinoid system reactivated the interest of the scientific community in this substance.

Thus, it is only recently that the medicinal properties and applications of CBD have begun to be studied, with surprising results.

What are the beneficial effects of CBD?

Studies in vitro (in tissues, organs or cell cultures) and in experimental animals show that CBD has specific properties such as:

  • Antioxidants.
  • Anticonvulsant (antiepileptic).
  • Neuroprotective.
  • Anti-inflammatory and analgesic.
  • Antibiotic (antibacterial).
  • Immunomodulator.
  • Anxiolytic, antidepressant and antipsychotic.
Infographic on the effects of CBD
Possible therapeutic uses of CBD (infographic) as suggested by scientific studies. The use of cannabidiol for all these diseases is not approved: Consult your physician before using CBD. Informative material based on current scientific research on CBD. Cannactiva products are not medicines and are intended for external use.

Possible uses of CBD in medical treatments

Research on the properties of CBD in humans is very recent. Neurological diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease (2-4) are the most studied. There are also other areas where CBD is already being tested in humans. These are some of the main fields of research:

  • Mental Health Problems: CBD for anxiety, psychosis, substance abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (5)
  • Skin diseases: eczema, CBD for psoriasis, itching and other inflammatory skin diseases (6)
  • Chronic pain (7)
  • Treatment of symptoms associated with cancer (8)
  • Treatment of some types of cancer (9)
  • Obesity, diabetes and glycemic (blood sugar) control (10)

Most human studies have used CBD oils and, in some cases, vaporized CBD.

Is CBD already used in humans to treat any disease?

Since 2017, the antiepileptic properties of CBD have been tested in two childhood epileptic syndromes resistant to other treatments. The efficacy of CBD in Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (11) has been so evident that, both in Europe and in the USA, its medical use was authorized through an urgent procedure.

Epidiolex® is the trade name of the drug, a purified extract of cannabis oil with no THC and stable amounts of CBD. Interim results in other types of epilepsy are promising (12).

What are the adverse effects of CBD?

Side effects of CBD are, in most cases, infrequent and mild. These data come from clinical trials on healthy volunteers, in which 6 grams of CBD has been administered daily for one week or 200-300 mg of CBD for 4 months (13-14) and from research in which it has been evaluated as a drug.

Side effects of CBD are infrequent and mild.

The side effects described are diarrhea, nausea, decreased appetite or tiredness. This type of problem usually appears when high doses are administered or in people who are particularly susceptible to its effects.

What are the long-term risks of using CBD?

Animal study models commonly used to estimate these risks do not indicate that CBD produces significant long-term harms or problems (15). Moreover, the oldest studies with CBD in humans are now forty years old with no long-term negative effects reported.

Some regular users of high doses of cannabis may show moderate impairments in executive memory (the memory used to learn new concepts). But this neurological alteration disappears after a few weeks of abstinence and is related to the effects of THC. CBD, on the other hand, seems to have a protective effect against these problems (16).

Is it possible to get intoxicated with CBD?

CBD is a very safe substance even when consumed in high doses, accidentally or intentionally. Among patients under treatment with CBD monitored in long-term clinical trials, no incidence of overdose or intoxication has been reported in this regard.

In the last 40 years, only a single case of acute CBD poisoning has been reported worldwide. It was in 2020, when an American woman went to an emergency department after eating two whole packets of CBD jelly beans, and was discharged within a few hours (17).

Can CBD be used by people with liver and kidney problems?

The liver and kidney transform and eliminate drugs and other substances from the body. Hepatic and renal insufficiency appear in some people when this function is diminished for very different reasons (age, infections, diabetes…). In these cases, it is sometimes necessary to modify the CBD dosage.

Available studies indicate that it is not necessary to modify the dose in patients with renal insufficiency using CBD, even in very severe cases (18). In the case of hepatic insufficiency, this dose adjustment is necessary in moderate and severe cases (19).

Can CBD be mixed with other medications?

Yes, CBD can have drug interactions. The effects of a particular antiepileptic drug, clobazam, are known to be potentiated by the use of CBD, facilitating the occurrence of excessive sleepiness in those patients who use both drugs simultaneously. This effect is likely to be extensive to other drugs of the benzodiazepine family (drugs used in the treatment of anxiety such as diazepam, lorazepam, alprazolam…).

Available studies indicate that other drugs from very different families, such as antidepressants (bupropion), cholesterol drugs (gemfibrozil) and some others, may have some interaction with CBD. Although, in practice, its impact is likely to be less relevant. In case of taking medication, it is recommended to consult a physician before using CBD. For more information, see the post on CBD and medicines .

What doses of CBD do the studies use?

The dose of CBD used in the studies is variable, and depends on the objective or pathology to be treated. Cannabidiol should always be prescribed by a medical specialist. CBD can attenuate certain symptoms or treat certain diseases, but it is the physician who must make a diagnosis and prescribe the most appropriate therapeutic approach, based on the study of each particular case.

In most human clinical trials, daily doses between 200 and 400 mg of CBD are administered. This range of doses is used for example in epilepsy, chronic pain or control of symptoms associated with tumor diseases.

For the treatment of other diseases such as schizophrenia, researchers have used high doses of CBD up to 1000 mg per day (1 gram of CBD daily) for 7 weeks (20).

Typically, sublingual CBD oil is used. To achieve stable levels throughout the day, it is usually recommended to divide the dose into two doses (morning and evening).

Can I stop using CBD abruptly?

The existence of a withdrawal syndrome associated with cannabis is an issue that still generates controversy today. It is believed that a minority of regular users of smoked hashish or marijuana may have mild symptoms if they stop using it overnight.

In the case of CBD, it has been shown that its use can be discontinued completely at any time without any withdrawal or rebound symptoms (21).

We remind you that this is an informative article that is not intended to prevent, diagnose or treat any disease. Consult your doctor before using CBD. Its content can complement, but never replace, the diagnosis or treatment of any disease or symptom. Cannactiva products are not medicines.

  1. Andre CM, Hausman JF, Guerriero G. Cannabis sativa: The Plant of the Thousand and One Molecules. . Front Plant Sci. 2016 Feb 4;7:19. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00019. PMID: 26870049;
  2. Lattanzi S, Trinka E, Striano P, Rocchi C, Salvemini S, Silvestrini M, Brigo F. Highly Purified Cannabidiol for Epilepsy Treatment: A Systematic Review of Epileptic Conditions Beyond Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. . CNS Drugs. 2021 Mar;35(3):265-28
  3. Patricio F, Morales-Andrade AA, Patricio-Martínez A, Limón ID. Cannabidiol as a Therapeutic Target: Evidence of its Neuroprotective and Neuromodulatory Function in Parkinson’s Disease. . Front Pharmacol. 2020;11:595635. Published 2020 Dec 15. doi:10.3389/fphar.2020.595635
  4. Li H, Liu Y, Tian D, et al. Overview of cannabidiol (CBD) and its analogues: Structures, biological activities, and neuroprotective mechanisms in epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. . Eur J Med Chem. 2020;192:112163. doi:10.1016/j.ejmech.2020.112163
  5. Bonaccorso S, Ricciardi A, Zangani C, Chiappini S, Schifano F. Cannabidiol (CBD) use in psychiatric disorders: A systematic review. . Neurotoxicology. 2019;74:282-298. doi:10.1016/j.neuro.2019.08.002
  6. Baswan SM, Klosner AE, Glynn K, et al. Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders. . Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2020;13:927-942. doi:10.2147/CCID.S286411
  7. Boyaji, S., Merkow, J., Elman, R., Kaye, A. D., Yong, R. J., & Urman, R. D. (2020). The Role of Cannabidiol (CBD) in Chronic Pain Management: An Assessment of Current Evidence. . Current pain and headache reports, 24(2), 4.
  8. Good P, Haywood A, Gogna G, Martin J, Yates P, Greer R, Hardy J. Oral medicinal cannabinoids to relieve symptom burden in the palliative care of patients with advanced cancer: a double-blind, placebo controlled, randomised clinical trial of efficacy and safety of cannabidiol (CBD). . BMC Palliat Care. 2019 ;18(1):110. doi: 10.1186/s12904-019-0494-6..
  9. Pellati F, Borgonetti V, Brighenti V, Biagi M, Benvenuti S, Corsi L. Cannabis sativa L. and Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoids: Their Chemistry and Role against Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Cancer. . Biomed Res Int. 2018 Dec 4;2018:1691428. doi: 10.1155/2018/1691428.
  10. Bielawiec P, Harasim-Symbor E, Chabowski A. Phytocannabinoids: Useful Drugs for the Treatment of Obesity? Special Focus on Cannabidiol. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020 Mar 4;11:114. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2020.00114.
  11. Talwar A, Estes E, Aparasu R, Reddy DS. Clinical efficacy and safety of cannabidiol for pediatric refractory epilepsy indications: A systematic review and meta-analysis. . Exp Neurol. 2022;359:114238. doi:10.1016/j.expneurol.2022.114238
  12. Lattanzi S, Brigo F, Trinka E, Zaccara G, Cagnetti C, Del Giovane C, Silvestrini M. Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol in Epilepsy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. . Drugs. 2018 Nov;78(17):1791-1804.
  13. Cunha JM, Carlini EA, Pereira AE, Ramos OL, Pimentel C, Gagliardi R, Sanvito WL, Lander N, Mechoulam R. Chronic administration of cannabidiol to healthy volunteers and epileptic patients. . Pharmacology. 1980;21(3):175-85. doi: 10.1159/000137430.
  14. Taylor L, Gidal B, Blakey G, Tayo B, Morrison G. A Phase I, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Single Ascending Dose, Multiple Dose, and Food Effect Trial of the Safety, Tolerability and Pharmacokinetics of Highly Purified Cannabidiol in Healthy Subjects. . CNS Drugs. 2018 32:1053-1067. doi: 10.1007/s40263-018-0578-5.
  15. Land MH, Toth ML, MacNair L, Vanapalli SA, Lefever TW, Peters EN, Bonn-Miller MO. Effect of Cannabidiol on the Long-Term Toxicity and Lifespan in the Preclinical Model Caenorhabditis elegans. . Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2021 Dec;6(6):522-527. doi: 10.1089/can.2020.0103.
  16. Broyd SJ, van Hell HH, Beale C, Yücel M, Solowij N. Acute and Chronic Effects of Cannabinoids on Human Cognition-A Systematic Review. . Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Apr 1;79(7):557-67. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.12.002.
  17. Bass J, Linz DR. A Case of Toxicity from Cannabidiol Gummy Ingestion . Cureus. 2020 Apr 12:e7688. doi: 10.7759/cureus.7688.
  18. Tayo B, Taylor L, Sahebkar F, Morrison G. A Phase I, Open-Label, Parallel-Group, Single-Dose Trial of the Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Tolerability of Cannabidiol in Subjects with Mild to Severe Renal Impairment. . Clin Pharmacokinet. 2020 ;59:747-755. doi: 10.1007/s40262-019-00841-6.
  19. Taylor L, Crockett J, Tayo B, Morrison G. A Phase 1, Open-Label, Parallel-Group, Single-Dose Trial of the Pharmacokinetics and Safety of Cannabidiol (CBD) in Subjects With Mild to Severe Hepatic Impairment. . J Clin Pharmacol. 2019 ;59:1110-1119. doi: 10.1002/jcph.1412.
  20. McGuire P, Robson P, Cubala WJ, Vasile D, Morrison PD, Barron R, Taylor A, Wright S. Cannabidiol (CBD) as an Adjunctive Therapy in Schizophrenia: A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial. . Am J Psychiatry. 2018 ;175:225-231.
  21. Taylor L, Crockett J, Tayo B, Checketts D, Sommerville K. Abrupt withdrawal of cannabidiol (CBD): A randomized trial. . Epilepsy Behav. 2020;104(Pt A):106938. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.106938.

Dr. Fernando Caudevilla
Family Physician | Expert in Drug Addictions. He works in different assistance, research and training projects related to drugs, including therapeutic cannabis.

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