Updated on December 6, 2018.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Medical marijuana has been used for more than 3000 years by humans. Many studies support the therapeutic effects of its main active ingredients like cannabidiol (CBD) — but this doesn’t mean it’s void of side effects. The good thing about CBD side effects is that they’re minimal when compared to those of other synthetic pharmaceuticals.
Here’s a brief outline of nine common side effects of CBD, as well as how to mitigate them.
1. Low Blood Pressure
Taking a high dose of CBD can cause blood pressure to drop. This could happen a few minutes after the CBD gets into the bloodstream. As a person’s blood pressure starts to fall, they may start feeling lightheaded. Patients who are already taking blood pressure medication should consult with a doctor before also using CBD.
To deal with low blood pressure due to the consumption of CBD oil:
Take a few deep breaths to increase the flow of fresh oxygen into the blood and heart
Take a natural stimulant to restore blood pressure to its normal state
Drink a hot cup of tea or coffee to reduce this effect
Cannabidiol calms the nerves, and it’s a very effective treatment for insomnia along with other sleep-related ailments. This means that if a person takes high doses of CBD at once, or several small doses throughout the day, they could start feeling sleepy during the day.
Avoid using indica strains that have higher THC and can cause drowsiness
Try a technique called micro-dosing
much smaller doses of medical marijuana to reduce the sedative effect
Take a little caffeine — about 50 to 100 mg — which is equivalent to a cup of coffee
Avoid driving or operating machinery shortly after taking medical cannabis
3. Redness in the Eyes
Users may notice they have red and dry eyes after using marijuana. This is because THC reduces blood pressure, causing blood vessels of the eyes to dilate. While this is one of the reasons it’s suitable for treating glaucoma, red and dry eyes are never desirable.
To reduce redness in the eyes:
Use eye drops made for reducing redness, which are available over-the-counter or via prescription
Drink at least eight glasses of water daily — proper hydration will minimize eye redness
Use a strain that has a higher level of CBD, which can reduce the effect of THC
4. Hunger Pangs or Increased Appetite
For some patients, the use of CBD can increase their appetite. This is desirable for those who want to improve their poorly developed appetite, but everyone may not want this effect. To reduce the impact of cannabinoids on their appetite, patients should:
Use a strain high in CBD and low in THC
Look for strains that can serve as an appetite suppressant to avoid eating more and gaining weight
Stay away from high THC strains that can stimulate the part of the brain that activates the appetite
5. Dryness in the Mouth
Some patients experience a dry mouth or “cotton mouth” after taking medical marijuana. For patients using medical cannabis for the first time, the dry mouth effect may be shocking — but this can easily be handled.
Take these steps to prevent a dry mouth:
Have some water or ice nearby just in case the mouth hurts or gets dry
Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco because they can increase the dryness caused by taking CBD
Reduce consumption of drinks like tea that contain a high amount of tannin
6. Feelings of Depression
This effect is quite uncommon, but it may still occur among a few medical cannabis users. In fact, many people take cannabis to treat depression. Users who experience any form of depression should take the following steps:
Avoid allowing stress-inducing situations to cause feelings of depression
Take smaller doses at a time
Try using an indica-dominant strain or one that has a higher concentration of CBD
Users taking high doses of CBD usually experience lightheadedness. This CBD side effect is brief, and it’s caused by a sudden reduction of blood pressure. While this effect can be a bit scary, patients should not panic.
First, take a break. Then, sit down in an upright position. Next, take a few deep breaths to increase the oxygen supply in the blood. Finally, reach for a hot cup of tea or coffee.
While taking CBD can help regulate the performance of the endocannabinoid system, it may cause diarrhea in some patients. Diarrhea may occur due to a high dosage or poor cannabidiol tolerance.
To combat diarrhea, patients can:
Reduce their daily dose of CBD
Take smaller doses at a time instead of one large treatment
Consult a doctor for a brief examination
9. More Tremors in Patients With Parkinson’s Disease
Patients with Parkinson’s disease should be aware that the associated tremors may increase slightly after taking CBD. This, however, does not mean using CBD to treat Parkinson’s disease isn’t safe. Cannabidiol is still safe and effective for people who have Parkinson’s disease.
To reduce the tremors connected with this condition, patients can:
Take smaller doses of CBD
Use a strain that has a higher concentration of CBD than THC
Consult a physician before starting any CBD treatment
Talk With a Marijuana Doctor to Learn More About CBD Side Effects
Overall, consuming a marijuana strain with a higher concentration of CBD than THC and taking smaller amounts at a time can help mitigate many of the side effects people experience when using CBD products. To learn more, find a reliable marijuana doctor to consult with.