What is CBD? (Cannabidiol)

What is CBD? CBD or Cannabidiol is a naturally occurring chemical compound or ‘cannabinoid’ found in cannabis and hemp plants. Along with CBD, the cannabis plant contains between 70-100 other cannabinoids.

Most people have heard of THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the psychoactive cannabinoid that gets people high. After THC, CBD is the second most abundant cannabinoid and is generally considered to be non-psychoactive.

Cannabinoids function as part of the endocannabinoid system; the body’s complex network of chemical compounds (endocannabinoids) and receptors which are constantly working to bring the body into homeostasis and optimum functioning.

This system regulates everything from mood, memory, the immune system, pain signalling and inflammatory response.


There are a multitude of studies that demonstrate the benefits of cannabidiol in both humans and animals. Most of these studies conclude that CBD is safe to use and has almost no major side effects.

The review paper by the NCBI suggests that Cannabidiol is safe and non toxic and even “high doses” up to 1500 mg/day are well tolerated.

Safety and side effects of cannabidiol – Bergamaschi et al

The paper does goes on to say that some studies reported that this cannabinoid can induce some side effects, including inhibition of hepatic drug metabolism, alterations of in vitro cell viability, decreased fertilization capacity, and decreased activities of p-glycoprotein and other drug transporters.


CBD can interact with other pharmaceuticals

This is because it inhibits the activity of some liver enzymes called cytochrome P450. This family of enzymes metabolizes most of the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat humans. If you are taking pharmaceutical drugs we strongly suggest you discuss these issues with your health professional to discuss any potential complications.

To put these risks into perspective, eating grapefruit has a similar effect on these same liver enzymes.

CBD can cause a dry mouth due to the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in the inhibition of saliva secretion

CBD can cause a slight drop in blood pressure sometimes resulting in a feeling of lightheadedness immediately after taking it. If you are taking any medication for blood pressure please ensure you discuss this with your doctor before taking CBD.

CBD can cause drowsiness when taken in higher doses. You should avoid driving or operating machinery if you feel affected in this way.

CBD can sometimes cause diarrhea

CBD can cause a decreased appetite.   

In recent clinical studies, most side effects were described as mild or moderate and went away after some time.