How do you know your CBD is safe?

For any drug or supplement, there may be side effects and there may be risks—the key is to determine what those side effects and risks ARE, if they are worth the benefits, can any side effects be made less risky AND if you can buy one product that is safer or of higher quality than another.
Written by 
Zora Degrandpre, MS, ND.
|Last Updated:
Safe CBD

The Bottom Line

According to the Mayo Clinic CBD is well-tolerated in most people. In addition, most of the side effects are relatively mild and do not present a real risk for most people and can be easily dealt with. For example, the most common side effects reported are dry mouth, diarrhea, a decreased appetite, drowsiness and fatigue. Drowsiness and fatigue may be the most problematic side effects—but only if you drive or operate heavy equipment, not if you are in bed and asleep.

The Benefits of CBD

CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid derived from hemp—a “cousin” of the cannabis plant. It will not get you “high”.

CBD has been used to reduce pain, depression, anxiety, act as an anti-inflammatory and help normalize sleep patterns, muscle spasms, seizures, blood sugar and blood pressure. [2], [3]

For the most part, the side effects of CBD are often the desired effects (eg. drowsiness or a decreased appetite) or easily remedied by drinking water, adding fiber to your diet or laying down for a nap.

The bigger concern, frankly, is the safety of the product that you buy. Let’s get into how you can ensure you are buying the best and the safest CBD!

How to Find the Safest High-Quality CBD

Research indicates that most people tolerate CBD very well. The side effects noted above—dry mouth, diarrhea, a decreased appetite, drowsiness and fatigue—are all relatively mild, relatively rare and generally are short-lived. You can probably avoid most of them by following the mantra: Start low and Go Slow—by starting at a very low dose and increasing that amount until you achieve your goals. Also—if you experience any side effects, stop taking the CBD.

Most of the more significant and disturbing side effects experienced by people have less to do with CBD and much more to do with contaminants like heavy metals or microbial toxins in the product. There also have been some scattered reports of changes in male fertility, interactions with prescription medications and liver damage. [4] The FDA is also concerned about issues such as cumulative exposure, the effect of CBD on children, adolescents and pregnant or nursing mothers.

So how do you make sure you are safely buying and safely using the best CBD products?

  • One of the first things you need to look for when trying to ensure the safety and quality of your CBD is the reputation of the company you are buying from.
  • Check out companies’ reputation here at LeafReport’s Brand Reviews. You can also check out the FDA’s press releases to see if the company has been issued an official FDA warning letter. [5]
  • Look at the lab reports produced by the company. Here are some points to look for in the “Certificate of Analysis” or CoA.
  • Make certain that the lab used has a state license, is ISO accredited and that the CoA is signed and dated—this information is usually found on the last page and sometimes in a header or footer.
  • Look for a “passing grade” for
    • Heavy metals
    • Pesticides
    • Microbials
    • Mycotoxins
    • Residual solvents
    • Debris
  • Look for less than 0.3% THC in the product
    • This is the legal limit for THC in any CBD product—and without seeing a CoA, there is no good proof that the product is legal.
    • This is especially important for those who cannot afford—for whatever reason—to be drowsy or over-fatigued—or for anyone for whom drug testing is a concern.

CBD may interact with some prescription medications—specifically those medications that interact with the liver’s detoxification process, particularly with an enzyme known as CYP3A4. If you are taking any prescription medications, talk to your pharmacist about potential interactions with CBD. As a very general rule of thumb, look for warnings against using a medication with grapefruit juice—these medications often also interact with CBD. A partial list of medications that may be affected when taken with CBD includes:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antihistamines
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Cholesterol lowering medications
  • Blood thinners (anticoagulants, antiplatelet drugs)
  • Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs

You should always talk to your own healthcare provider when adding CBD—or any other supplement—to your daily routine. The wide use of CBD is recent—and we are still learning a lot about it because there is still a lot we don’t know. Telling your healthcare provider may allow them a better understanding of your health needs and will help them keep track of any side effects or drug interactions.

The Bottomest Bottom Line

Overall, CBD is safe for most people to use at the dosage (potency) level most people use. Check the reputation of the company you are buying from, check out their CoAs, talk to your pharmacist and healthcare provider and above all, Start Low and Go Slow when using CBD.


References Cited

  1. (Accessed 11/20)
  2. White CM. A Review of Human Studies Assessing Cannabidiol’s (CBD) Therapeutic Actions and Potential. J Clin Pharmacol. 2019 Jul;59(7):923-934. doi: 10.1002/jcph.1387. Epub 2019 Feb 7. PMID: 30730563.
  3. VanDolah HJ, Bauer BA, Mauck KF. Clinicians’ Guide to Cannabidiol and Hemp Oils. Mayo Clin Proc. 2019 Sep;94(9):1840-1851. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2019.01.003. Epub 2019 Aug 22. PMID: 31447137.
  4. (Accessed 11/20)
  5. (Accessed 11/20)



Dr. Zora DeGrandpre practices naturopathic medicine (home visits) in rural Washington and is a professional medical and scientific writer and editor, specializing in naturopathic, functional, botanical and integrative medicine. Dr. DeGrandpre has degrees in drug design, immunology and natural medicine and has extensive research experience in cancer and molecular immunology. In her practice, Dr DeGrandpre has found the use of CBD with elderly patients and others to be safe and clinically effective. She brings to all her writing a straightforward approach that is accurate, clear and authentic.

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