There are many misconceptions about CBD, and even plenty about cannabis in general. People wonder what it is, where it comes from, if it is safe, and whether it is an addictive substance.
Most people know that CBD is found in the cannabis plant. There is actually quite a lot of debate around whether marijuana itself is addictive, but without fully concrete evidence on either side, it’s quite hard to say. That being said, even if marijuana is addictive, it might not be the CBD that is causing the addiction.
With the popularity of CBD food supplements growing and growing, would-be consumers are wondering whether CBD could cause an addiction. After all, you’re supposed to take food supplements on a daily basis, and this might not actually be a good idea if they do cause addiction.
So, let’s take a look at the ins and outs of whether CBD, and whether it could potentially cause an addiction.
What is CBD and Where Does it Come from?
In case you are completely new to CBD, you might be wondering what it really is. If you already know a bit about it, feel free to skip ahead to the nitty gritty.
Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, is a compound known as a cannabinoid. These are compounds that can all be found in the cannabis plants. Originally, they were developed as a means to help the cannabis plant thrive, as a way to deter predators. Imagine that a herbivorous mammal took a bite of the cannabis plant’s leaves – the psychoactive high that it experienced would put it off for good!
The psychoactive high that is commonly associated with marijuana comes from a cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This is perhaps the most notorious compound found in the cannabis plant.
So what about CBD? Cannabidiol does not actually cause intoxication – it is completely non-psychoactive. As a result, it cannot cause a high. This is why many people use it as a food supplement; it does not cause mental impairment, but it might have positive effects on our health.
Another common error people make is to assume that all cannabis is marijuana. The ‘cannabis’ umbrella actually holds a number of different plants, including Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and hybrid plants of both. Hemp is also a member of the cannabis family, albeit a member that contains little to no THC.
Manufacturers of CBD supplements make their products using hemp. This ensures that less than 0.2% THC is in the final product, as per the legal standard. Furthermore, hemp is legal to grow in many countries like the UK, while marijuana is (obviously) not.
Is CBD Oil Addictive or Dangerous?
Firstly, let’s deal with the question of whether CBD is dangerous. Since the industry for CBD supplements is unregulated, you might be at risk of buying a substance that is not in fact CBD, or that was produced cheaply and contains harmful substances. This is quite unlikely nowadays, but it is possible.
However, if we’re talking about real, properly produced CBD oil, then no, it is not dangerous. According to a report from the World Health Organisation – perhaps the world’s most trusted authority on health – CBD is generally safe and well-tolerated in humans. The WHO deemed CBD to be non-toxic, meaning that it cannot harm you.
High doses in excess of 1000 mg per day have been well-tolerated in people. Furthermore, what little side effects do exist are not major and are unlikely to cause significant harm. The side effects of CBD oil consist of:
- Dry mouth
As you can see, these are not severe and are certainly manageable. Diarrhoea is the most troubling side effect, but it is not experienced by everyone.
Is it addictive, though? Well, the WHO don’t seem to think so. Although their report did conclude by saying that more human trials are needed to concretely define the effects of CBD, they did also state that CBD appears to be non-addictive.
This is quite a grey area. Technically, anything can be addictive – it doesn’t have to be a substance. Gambling, gaming, and other activities can all become addictions. Something is defined as an addiction when an individual seeks it out repeatedly, regardless of any harmful effects that it may be having.
In terms of substances, drugs tend to be addictive when they have an impact on our brain’s reward system. For example, caffeine creates an energy spike and makes us feel uplifted and happy, and cocaine has a similar effect. In fact, sugar is even quite strongly addictive, as it causes a positive feeling.
CBD is quite strange here, because it doesn’t directly cause positive feelings. It might make us feel better and healthier, and it may even cause an increase in the production of anandamide (also known as the bliss molecule). Since anandamide makes us feel happy, CBD can indirectly have an impact on our mood. But since CBD is not causing these effects directly, it is hard for it to be addictive.
Basically, if you listen to the World Health Organisation, then CBD is neither dangerous nor addictive.
Just because CBD is not addictive does not mean that you won’t experience withdrawal if you take too much of it and suddenly stop. People often associate withdrawal with an addiction, but this is not necessarily the case.
CBD works by influencing your endocannabinoid system, a system which regulates many functions within the body. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) works using molecules called endocannabinoids, similar to CBD and THC except we produce them ourselves. These endocannabinoids act like messengers, passing information around the body. CBD can encourage us to produce more endocannabinoids, helping the ECS to work even better.
When you take CBD regularly, the body might stop producing as many of its own endocannabinoids. This only happens if you take the CBD for a very prolonged period of time, but it is something to be aware of.
If you were then to stop taking CBD, you might feel slightly ill. This is because an endocannabinoid deficiency has taken effect, and that can leave you feeling a little under the weather. It probably won’t be serious, so don’t panic if you start to feel nauseated and sick for a few days. CBD withdrawal is not too serious.
How to Take CBD Oil Safely
If you want to take CBD oil, there are some things to be aware of. It is non-addictive and certainly safe, but that does not mean that you should rely on it all the time.
The body is a miracle of nature, and often we can sort out minor ailments and problems by ourselves. When we can’t, CBD is a great supplement to help us get back on track, but it’s a good idea to take a tolerance break every now and then. This means stopping use of a substance – in this case CBD – in order to let your body get used to not using it.
With the many benefits of CBD and the lack of side effects, there’s really no reason not to give it a go!