What are the Side Effects of CBD and THC?

CBD is very well tolerated in general. However, there are some minor side effects that you could experience.

There are more than 80 chemicals found in the Cannabis Sativa plant, colloquially known as medical marijuana Nz. The most well-known ones are THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). While these chemicals are naturally derived, it’s important to note that ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it’s automatically ‘good’. These chemicals can react differently in people, and interact with pre-existing medical issues or medications.

The size of the dose, the ratio of CBD to THC, and the way the CBD is taken can result in different effects. While about one third of users report non-serious side effects, these sometimes self-resolve over time, or can be minimised by adjusting the dose of form of ingestion.

People often find the side effects are minor and not unpleasant (such as feeling drowsy) and it outweighs the problems caused by the initial reason for treatment, and the side effects of more conventional medications. For example, in cancer sufferers going through chemotherapy, CBD and THC may make them drowsy, but eliminate nausea and encourage appetite.

Possible Side Effects of CBD

  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure
  • Light headedness
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhoea

Liver injury has been noted in a specific medication called Epidiolex, and CBD can have a similar effect to grapefruit, increasing the levels of blood thinning and reducing the efficacy of prescribed medications.

Over many studies, it is agreed that the side effects of CBD are minimal, and the more worrying side effects are due to contraindications with other medications. This includes medications such as Warfarin and lithium based drugs.

Side Effects of THC

  • Increased heart rate
  • Coordination problems
  • Dry mouth
  • Slower reaction times
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety and distress
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizures and seizure-like activity
  • High THC use over long term may be connected to psychiatric outcomes

Most of these side effects are only present when high levels of THC are ingested. Your provider may reduce your dosage or can start you off on a very low dose to see if you tolerate THC well.

CBD, THC, Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding

The problem with pregnancy and breastfeeding and measuring drug effects is that a controlled study cannot be carried out. Experiments cannot happen on people if there is any likelihood of harm or negative outcomes, more so in pregnant women.

As a result, research is either anecdotal, or carried out on other animals. In zebrafish, CBD affects the health and longevity of offspring. In mice, prenatal cannabinoid exposure can cause facial malformations. Cannabinol exposure also increases anxiety in offspring and mixed behavioural outcomes in mice.

There is evidence in humans that THC crosses the placenta. While there are a number of studies that show cannabis use decreases birthweight and slightly increases the risk of NICU stay, there’s no evidence yet there’s a correlation between maternal cannabis use and long term outcomes in children.

Studies are mixed, some finding no discernible effects on infants, others finding slowed motor development in mothers who used THC daily.

Until further research is carried out, pregnant and breastfeeding women should not assume THC and CBD oil during pregnancy and breastfeeding are 100% safe. However, the risks should be weighed up against the mental and physical wellbeing of the mother.

CBD, THC, and Children

THC is not encouraged in children. It’s linked to a number of negative side effects such as increased weight and impaired brain function.

However, pure CBD is deemed relatively safe. Especially for children suffering from epilepsy, CBD could be a vital piece of improving their health. Many parents who give their children CBD do so as a last resort, after all other avenues have been exhausted. For both the parent and the prescribing doctor, the wellbeing of the child will always be the most important factor.

What Can You Do to Minimise Side Effects?

If you try THC or CBD and encounter side effects, there are some ways you can minimise these.

  • First, make sure you are taking the CBD and THC as prescribed
  • It may take time to get the dosage and ratio correct. If you’re feeling unwell, go back to the person who prescribed it to you
  • Ensure you are taking a genuine, pure product, with the active ingredients and dosage measured
  • Try taking CBD and THC in another form. For instance, CBD in the form of edibles may be more likely to upset your stomach
  • Are you taking any medications, vitamins, or supplements that could be interfering with CBD? Speak to your doctor.

Are THC and CBD Safe?

In short, yes, they are safe for the vast majority of people. Side effects, if any, are minimal and may be due to ratios or dosages needing to be adjusted. If you take a pure product as prescribed by a professional, the risk of side effects are very low.

It’s important to note that smoking cannabis is not as safe as taking prescribed medications. The strength of the plant is variable, and the smoke irritates and damages lung tissues. If you wish to take CBD or THC for a medical condition, see a doctor who can prescribe you the appropriate medication.

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