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The real concern when it comes to side effects, says Capano, is whether or not the CBD in your medicine cabinet is legitimate. You first need to find out if it’s even real CBD, as synthetic can be dangerous. Then look into how the plants are grown, how the product is manufactured, and what quality-assurance tests the brand conducts to ensure safety and the elimination of pesticides, chemicals, microbes, and molds. “It’s an unregulated industry, and there’s a lot of great branding and marketing out there, but unfortunately transparency is rare and not knowing what you’re getting is common,” warns Capano. “Usually that risk just means wasting your money, but it could be harmful, if there are dangerous chemicals in there, for example.” Contact the company with these questions; any reputable brand will be willing to provide customers with all these details.

Though they’re both found in a cannabis plant—meaning either hemp or marijuana—using CBD (full name: cannabidiol) is a far cry from smoking weed. Like THC (or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is a cannabinoid—a molecule that helps the functioning of our endocannabinoid system, which regulates our mood, sleep cycle, inflammation, immune response, and more. But unlike THC, CBD isn’t intoxicating. “In other words, CBD can’t get you high,” says Alex Capano, chief science officer for Ananda Hemp, a Kentucky-based health and wellness brand specializing in CBD products.

What are the side effects of CBD?

If you’re in a big city, you’ve likely seen CBD all over—from chic pop-up shops to your corner bodega. If you’re in a small town, you can probably find it in a brick-and-mortar shop too, as lots of small, independent pharmacies are carrying CBD products now. But if you do have trouble tracking it down in person, you can easily order online and have it shipped to any state (since U.S.-grown CBD is legal nationwide per the Farm Bill). But keep in mind: “There are so many online retailers, you have to do your homework,” says Capano.

Get ready to kiss that nagging knee or back pain goodbye. Along with improvements in sleep and mood, chronic aches are the main reason people are turning to CBD. That’s because cannabidiol is an anti-inflammatory agent. In other words, it helps reduce the inflammation causing the pain, rather than reducing your perception of pain. “Percocet will just make you feel like you don’t have pain while CBD will get at the root cause,” explains Capano. CBD also helps nix pain because it’s an antioxidant itself, increases our own natural antioxidants, and works on serotonin receptors.

All that being said, if you’re taking CBD for a condition like anxiety or epilepsy, the potential drawbacks are generally milder or less of a nuisance than the side effects you might expect from traditional medical treatments.

CBD oil contains CBD mixed with an inert carrier oil, such as coconut oil or hemp seed oil. The bottled oil, called a tincture, is sold in various concentrations. There are also CBD capsules, CBD gummies, and under-the-tongue CBD sprays.

There have also been suggestions that CBD may aid in the treatment of cannabis and nicotine addiction. Further research is needed.

Health Benefits

Potential drug-drug interactions with CBD include:

CBD oil may reduce the risk of heart disease by alleviating hypertension (high blood pressure) in certain people, suggests a 2017 study in JCI Insight.  

In all but a few studies, lower doses of CBD (10 milligrams per kilogram, mg/kg, or less) improved some symptoms of anxiety. Higher doses (100 mg/kg or more) exhibited virtually no effect.