CBD Oil: Is It Safe and Effective?

Over the last couple of years, we have seen the popularity of CBD skyrocket. More and more people are using CBD, which is short for cannabidiol, and even celebrities are swearing by it. Gwyneth Paltrow, for example, has already featured it on her lifestyle website. Jennifer Aniston has been quoted as saying that “CBD helps with pain, stress, and anxiety.”

CBD, a chemical compound found in cannabis plants like marijuana and hemp, is now being used as a remedy for a variety of medical conditions. Aside from pain, stress, and anxiety, CBD is also used as a sleeping aid, as well as a treatment for acne and seizures caused by two rare forms of childhood epilepsy.

From all indications, many people are now embracing CBD as a cure-all. The question is, are natural CBD oils and other cannabidiol products safe and effective?

Can CBD Make You High?

One of the biggest safety concerns about CBD oil is the fact that it comes from cannabis plants like marijuana, which makes people conclude that using it can make you experience psychoactive effects.

The truth is, CBD is nothing like its cousin, THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. THC, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, can change a user’s spatial and sensory perception; CBD does nothing of the sort.

It’s also worth noting that most CBD products get their cannabidiol content from hemp, which the 2018 Farm Bill has effectively excluded from the Controlled Substances Act. It also helps that hemp has much higher concentrations of CBD than marijuana.


The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a critical review essentially giving CBD a thumbs-up. Aside from being a promising treatment for a variety of ailments, CBD, says WHO, is also well-tolerated. Its safety profile is good and is not in danger of being abused by its users.

CBD For Anxiety

So far, Epidiolex is the only FDA-approved CBD drug out there, and its application is limited to the seizures caused by Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

CBD, however, is showing promise as a treatment for anxiety, too, with several scientific studies attesting to its efficacy.

A 2011 study showed that CBD reduced the anxiety levels of people who were about to participate in a simulated public speaking test.

There’s also research showing the efficacy of CBD in reducing anxiety in people with SAD, PTSD, OCD, and other mental disorders.

CBD has also proven helpful in the case of a 10-year-old girl with PTSD who, after receiving CBD, experienced lower anxiety and improved sleep quality.

Epidiolex-CBD Medication With FDA Approval

The US Food and Drugs Administration thinks CBD is safe and effective enough to use, at least for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, which affect younger children. The drug called Epidiolex contains a highly purified form of CBD and has been FDA-approved since June 2018. It is, in fact, the first drug to get approval as a treatment for Dravet syndrome.

FDA approvals only come after extensive clinical testing. The manufacturers of Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals, took nearly 20 years of research and clinical trials to comply with all of the FDA’s requirements.

With the FDA’s stamp on Epidiolex, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that more prescription uses for CBD will meet regulatory approval in the future.

Possible Side Effects

In many respects, CBD is being presented as medicine, and like all medications, there are possible side effects. Come to think of it, many health supplements that claim to be herbal and natural can also have side effects.

Let’s take the case of Epidiolex, the only FDA-approved CBD drug. While it was still in the clinical trial phase, the drug was administered to its young participants in high daily doses for 14 weeks.

For the first few weeks, the participants complained of tiredness, decreased appetite, and gastrointestinal issues. The side effects, however, subsided once they lowered the dosage.

The Epidiolex clinical trials also reported that the participating children also showed elevated liver enzymes. The subjects, however, have also been found to be taking liver-damaging prescription drugs. It’s not clear whether CBD directly elevated their liver enzymes, or if it was a result of CBD’s interaction with the prescription drugs they were taking.

CBD Is Generally Safe and Effective

Considering how long it took to approve Epidiolex, it may take some time—and a ton of scientific studies and clinical trials—before the FDA gets to approve another CBD-based drug.

However, the fact that it got approval means it really does have therapeutic properties and is generally safe. And while clinical trials reported some possible side effects, the results remain inconclusive to this day.

To stay on the safe side, the best thing you can do is consult with your physician before using CBD in any form. That way, you can receive advice on possible contraindications and side effects, among other things.

About the Author

Lauren Klesser is the Content Marketing Strategist for Half Day CBD, a thoughtfully-curated brand of organic hemp-derived products like CBD oils,  CBD vape and CBD  gummies, which are designed to help manage pain, anxiety, stress and sleep issues. In her spare time, she plays axe throwing and escape games with her family and friends.

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