March 13, 2024 | Uncategorized | By Dave McShane

UK Potential Side Effects of CBD

As CBD usage surges in the UK, understanding its potential side effects becomes crucial. This article explores CBD’s physiological and psychological impacts, long-term effects, and possible withdrawal symptoms.

By debunking misconceptions and advocating for safe usage, we aim to equip readers with comprehensive knowledge. The content relies on credible sources, ensuring informed and authoritative coverage.

Let’s delve into CBD’s potential side effects within the UK context.


Key Takeaways


  • While CBD can sometimes lead to digestive issues such as nausea, diarrhoea, changes in appetite, and weight changes, these side effects are typically mild and temporary.
  • CBD can interact with other medications, altering their effectiveness and causing unwanted side effects. Categories of drugs that can interact with CBD include blood thinners, anti-seizure medications, and sedatives.
  • There may be long-term effects of CBD usage, including potential hormonal disruption, immune system suppression, and liver damage. However, these effects may not occur in all individuals, and further research is needed to understand them fully.
  • CBD can potentially lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms, including psychological dependence, anxiety or restlessness, nausea or changes in appetite, and changes in sleep patterns. It is important to note that CBD is non-psychoactive and non-addictive, but these symptoms may occur in specific individuals.



Understanding CBD: A Brief Overview

The United Kingdom’s understanding of Cannabidiol (CBD), a compound derived from the cannabis plant, is vital for comprehending its potential side effects. There are many chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in the cannabis genus of plants. Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychotropic cannabinoid found in cannabis, CBD does not cause the ‘high’ associated with marijuana because it is psychoactive.

Due to its diverse pharmacology, research into this compound has shown a range of potential therapeutic applications. CBD has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-nausea, anti-psychotic, and anti-anxiety properties. Notably, CBD has been approved in the UK to treat some types of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. However, it’s crucial to remember that research into CBD studies is in its infancy, and its many potential health benefits remain uncovered.

Though CBD’s legal status has changed in many jurisdictions, it remains under strict regulation in the United Kingdom. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) regulates its sale as a medicine, ensuring that only high-quality, safe, and effective products are available to consumers.



Legal Status of CBD in the UK

In the United Kingdom, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) regulates and sells CBD as a medicinal product. CBD’s legal status within the UK is complex, but it generally requires compliance with specific regulations to be marketed and sold legally.

Regulations for CBD in the UK


  • Controlled Substance Regulations: CBD is deemed legal in the UK provided that the contained THC level is below 0.2%, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Any CBD product containing more than this limit is considered a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
  • Novel Food Regulations: According to European Union guidelines, which still apply in the UK, CBD products are considered novel foods. This means they require a pre-market safety assessment and authorisation before being sold.
  • Medicinal Claims: Any CBD product that makes therapeutic claims must be licensed under the MHRA. Without this license, the product is considered an unlicensed medicine and is illegal to market.


Understanding these regulations is essential for consumers and sellers of CBD products in the UK to ensure they are within the legal boundaries.



Common Forms of CBD Consumption

While acknowledging the various regulations that govern the use of CBD in the UK, it is also essential to explore the common forms of CBD consumption. These can range from edibles and capsules to oils and topical applications.

Edibles, generally gummies or chocolates, offer an easy and discreet method of CBD consumption. Capsules, on the other hand, are tasteless and odourless, providing a convenient way of controlling dosage. They are typically preferred by consumers who wish to incorporate CBD into their daily vitamin or supplement regimen.

CBD oil, a highly concentrated form, is usually taken sublingually (under the tongue) for a rapid onset of effects. People also choose to add CBD to their food or beverages. Topical applications, like creams and balms, are used for targeted relief, especially for skin conditions and muscle or joint pain. These are applied directly to the skin for localised effects.

Vaping is another common form of CBD consumption, although it carries potential respiratory risks. The onset of CBD when vaping can be felt almost immediately, making it suitable for those seeking quick relief.

Each form of consumption offers unique benefits, and the choice largely depends on the individual’s preference and health goals.


Water-soluble CBD is highly versatile and can be added to most drinks.


Physiological Impact of CBD

Regarding CBD’s physiological impact, potential side effects vary among users and are typically contingent on factors such as dosage, method of consumption, and individual health conditions. While generally well-tolerated, CBD can lead to several physiological responses, some of which might be undesirable to specific individuals.

  • Dosage-related impacts
  • Low dosages of CBD might not yield any noticeable effects, while excessive dosages could potentially lead to side effects like drowsiness and diarrhoea.
  • Best practice involves starting with a low dose and increasing the amount of CBD over time, observing the body’s reactions closely.
  • Consumption method-related impacts
  • Different methods of CBD consumption (topical, oral, sublingual) can influence how quickly and intensely the effects are felt.
  • Each method has its absorption rate, affecting the CBD’s bioavailability.
  • Health condition-related impacts
  • Pre-existing health conditions can influence how an individual reacts to CBD. For example, people with liver disease may need to use lower doses.
  • Consult your doctor before starting CBD, especially for those with chronic conditions or those taking other medications.



Psychological Effects of CBD Usage

Following the exploration of physiological aspects, it is essential to delve into the psychological effects of CBD usage, as these can hold significant implications for users. Research indicates that CBD can have a profound impact on various aspects of mental health.

CBD has been hailed for its potential in managing anxiety disorders. Studies show it can alter how your brain’s receptors respond to serotonin, promoting general well-being. This impact can be beneficial for individuals suffering from social anxiety or panic disorders.

Promise has been shown when treating depression with both CBD and CBG, with their ability to act on the brain’s receptors for serotonin. This neurotransmitter regulates mood and social behaviour.

However, it is essential to note that while CBD is generally considered safe, it can cause side effects relating to appetite, fatigue, and a dry mouth. Also, interactions with other medications have not been well studied and remain a concern. As such, potential users should consult a healthcare professional before starting any regimen involving CBD.



Potential Allergic Reactions to CBD

Despite its numerous benefits, CBD may cause allergic reactions in some individuals. While the compound is generally well-tolerated, its interaction with the immune system can occasionally trigger unwanted responses.

In the context of CBD allergies, it’s essential to focus on three key areas:

  • Reactions to CBD itself:
  • Some people may have a sensitivity or allergy to CBD itself, though this is relatively rare. Symptoms can include skin rashes, hives, or itching.
  • Reactions to carrier oils:
  • CBD products often contain carrier oils, like coconut or hemp seed oil, which some individuals may be allergic to. Reactions can vary from skin irritation to more severe anaphylactic responses.
  • Reactions to additional ingredients:
  • Many CBD products contain other ingredients, such as flavourings or preservatives, that can also cause allergic reactions. 

These potential allergic reactions underscore the importance of careful product selection when using CBD. Always choose products from reputable manufacturers, and consult with a healthcare provider before use, primarily if you have known allergies or sensitivities. Understanding the potential risks can help ensure a safe and beneficial CBD experience.



Digestive Issues Related to CBD

CBD’s potential impact on the digestive system is another significant aspect to consider when discussing its side effects. While many users report positive effects, such as reduced inflammation and pain relief, some may experience digestive discomfort.

This discomfort often manifests as nausea, diarrhoea, or changes in appetite and weight. These symptoms are typically mild and temporary, subsiding as the body adjusts to the compound. However, lowering the dosage or discontinuing use may be advisable if these issues persist.

The reasons for these side effects have yet to be fully understood. Still, they may be related to CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is crucial in regulating digestion and appetite. It is important to note that everyone’s ECS is unique, and thus, reactions to CBD can vary greatly.

Consumers’ digestive issues related to CBD use should not be overlooked. Users are encouraged to monitor their symptoms, adjust their dosage accordingly, and consult a health professional if necessary.

As with any supplement, it is essential to approach CBD use with informed caution, taking into account all potential risks and benefits.



CBD Interaction With Other Medications

While it is generally considered safe, CBD can interact with other medications, altering their effectiveness or causing unwanted side effects. These potential contraindications are mainly due to how CBD is metabolised in the body, specifically, its interaction with cytochrome P450, an enzyme system involved in metabolising over 60% of prescribed drugs.

CBD can inhibit the enzyme system, slowing the metabolism of certain drugs, which can lead to higher levels of these substances in your system and potentially cause side effects or amplified effects of the drug.

Here are common categories of drugs that can interact with CBD:

  • Blood Thinners: CBD can enhance the effect, increasing the risk of bleeding.
  • Example: Warfarin
  • Anti-seizure Medications: CBD could affect how quickly the body breaks down these drugs, affecting their effectiveness.
  • Example: Clobazam
  • Sedatives: CBD may amplify the effects, increasing drowsiness or sleepiness.
  • Example: Benzodiazepines

Therefore, consult with a healthcare professional before starting CBD, especially if you’re taking other medications. The impact of CBD varies from person to person due to factors such as dosage, individual metabolism, and the type of medication used.



Long-Term Effects of CBD Usage

The long-term effects of CBD usage, particularly in the UK, remain under extensive scientific examination for their potential implications on health. As the popularity of CBD products continues to rise, it is crucial to understand any possible adverse effects that may arise from prolonged use.

Potential Long-Term EffectExplanation

Hormonal disruption Some studies suggest that CBD might interfere with the endocrine system, causing hormonal imbalances.

Immune System Suppression CBD is known for its anti-inflammatory properties; however, chronic use could suppress the immune system.

Liver Damage: A few animal studies have evidenced that high doses of CBD might harm the liver over time.

It is important to note that these potential effects may not occur in all individuals. The body’s reaction to CBD is complex and varies from person to person, influenced by factors such as dosage, product quality, and individual physiology. More robust, long-term human studies are required to understand the implications of CBD usage over extended periods entirely. As with any substance, moderation and medical consultation are advised for safe, beneficial use of CBD.



Dependence and Withdrawal Symptoms

As well as the potential long-term effects, another crucial consideration is the possibility of dependence and withdrawal symptoms associated with CBD use.

While CBD is not traditionally addictive, some users may develop a psychological dependence, mainly if they use it to manage mental health conditions like anxiety or depression.

The potential dependence and withdrawal symptoms associated with CBD usage can be categorised into three primary areas:

Psychological Dependence:

  • Regular usage of CBD to manage mental health conditions may lead to a psychological reliance on the substance.
  • Users might experience anxiety or restlessness if they abruptly stop using CBD, indicating a potential psychological dependence. 

Physical Symptoms:

  • While rare, some users may experience physical withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, or changes in appetite.

Impact on Sleep:

  • Some users have reported changes in their sleep patterns after stopping CBD usage, including insomnia or vivid dreams.


It’s important to note that these symptoms are not universal and can vary significantly among individuals. As with any substance, moderation and mindful usage are critical to minimising potential side effects. It is advisable to consult with your doctor or nurse before starting your journey with CBD products.



Misconceptions About CBD Side Effects

How, then, do misunderstandings about CBD side effects arise, especially considering the potential psychological and physical symptoms we’ve previously examined? The crux of these misconceptions often lies in the confusion between CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, and THC, the psychoactive ingredient associated with the ‘high’ of recreational cannabis use.

By conflating these two distinct compounds, many erroneously assume that CBD consumption will result in intoxication, addiction, or severe physical distress. However, extensive research in the UK and globally has consistently demonstrated that CBD is generally well-tolerated, with a side effect profile vastly different from that of THC.

Furthermore, another common misconception is that CBD is a ‘miracle cure’ devoid of any adverse effects. While CBD exhibits potential therapeutic benefits, it is vital to acknowledge that, like any substance, it can potentially cause side effects, particularly when taken in large amounts or combined with certain medications.

Misinformation can also stem from anecdotal accounts shared online without appropriate context or understanding of an individual’s unique physiology and health status. 



Ensuring Safe Use of CBD Products

Understanding the potential side effects and the importance of dosage, quality, and individual health factors is crucial to ensure the safe use of CBD products. Each body reacts differently to CBD, hence the importance of understanding your body’s needs and limitations.

Here are some fundamental guidelines to ensure safe usage:


  • Dosage:
  • Start with a low dose and gradually increase until you achieve the desired effects.
  • Be aware of the CBD concentration in your chosen product.
  • Quality Assurance:
  • Always look to purchase from reputable sources. 
  • Look for products that are organic and free of pesticides and heavy metals.
  • Individual Health Factors:
  • Speak to your doctor, especially if you are currently using any other medication or have underlying health issues.
  • Monitor your body’s reaction to CBD and adjust usage as needed.



Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Public Perception of CBD Usage in the UK?”

Public perception of CBD usage in the UK is generally positive, with many acknowledging its therapeutic benefits. However, misconceptions persist due to a lack of comprehensive understanding and clear regulatory guidelines on its use.


Are There Specific Demographic Groups in the UK More Prone to CBD Side Effects?”

While comprehensive UK-specific data is lacking, global studies suggest no specific demographic groups are more prone to CBD side effects. Effects can vary individually, independent of age, gender, or ethnicity. Further research is necessary.


Has there been any Recorded Increase in CBD Usage in the UK Over the Past 5 Years?”

Figures published by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis state that the UK has seen a significant increase in CBD usage over the past five years, with an estimated 1.3 million daily users in 2019, compared to 125,000 in 2017.


What Are the Economic Implications of CBD Consumption and Its Side Effects in the UK?”

Economic implications of CBD consumption in the UK encompass healthcare costs related to side effects, potential tax revenue from sales, and job creation in the burgeoning CBD industry. However, precise data is currently limited.


Does the UK Government Have Specific Resources Dedicated to Addressing Cbd-Related Health Issues?”

Yes, the UK government provides resources through Public Health England and the National Health Service to address potential health issues related to CBD, including research, educational materials, and dedicated healthcare services.




In conclusion, while CBD has potential therapeutic benefits, users should be aware of possible side effects, both physiological and psychological. Long-term effects remain under investigation.

The occurrence of dependence and withdrawal symptoms is rare but worthy of consideration. Misconceptions about CBD side effects need to be addressed for informed usage.

Ensuring safety involves abiding by UK regulations, consuming approved products, and seeking professional medical advice. Further research is essential to substantiate the safety and efficacy of CBD.