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The Truth About CBD Withdrawal

If you’ve landed on this page, you must be aware of the amazing benefits of cannabidiol (CBD).

But you must also be a bit apprehensive about a possible addiction and withdrawal symptoms. after all, CBD is a cannabis extract and America knows enough about marijuana addiction.

But before we get into that, UNDERSTAND THIS: CBD, like any other substance – natural or otherwise – can have some adverse effects on your body. However, considering its benefits, its side effects are far less benign than most other substances.


The large body of studies conducted on cannabis and CBD have indicated that the latter’s benefits far outweigh its side effects.

From helping manage difficult-to-treat pain, inflammation, and tackling neuropathic pain, to alleviating anxiety, promoting sleep, curbing depression, promoting brain development, energizing the body and mind, as well as treating different kinds of more severe conditions, like seizures resulting from some specific types of epilepsy – CBD has proven to be a safer alternative than most other drugs in the market.

So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had even approved the medicinal use of CBD for epilepsy among young patients.

Apart from that, CBD has also been found to be an effective agent of curbing addiction and dependence on drugs, tobacco, marijuana, and even prescription opioids.

That does make you wonder if an addiction-buster can itself be addictive too, doesn’t it?

CBD: Not the same as its canna-cousin THC!

Interestingly, both key cannabinoids of cannabis plants – CBD and THC – have a similar molecular structure, i.e. 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. Owing to their dissimilar placement, these two organic compounds behave quite differently.

Owing to their chemical similarity with our body’s endocannabinoids, they both interact with our endocannabinoid system and its receptors.

But the similarities end there.

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Unlike THC (∆-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD’s effects are quite opposite to that of THC. In fact, most of them counter THC’s effects.

  • While THC has addictive, psychotropic, psychedelic effects, CBD counters those effects.
  • THC can cause nausea, sleepiness, extreme hunger, and a tendency to binge, whereas CBD not only counters them, it even reverses those effects.
  • THC usually lowers the user’s blood pressure, but CBD rarely does that (only when taken in very high amounts).
  • CBD is well tolerated by most people, including children and pets, whereas THC is not. Also Check our list for best THC Free CBD Oils.
  • Unlike CBD, it’s unsafe to drive or operate heavy machinery under THC’s effect.
  • Owing to THC’s unpredictable and mind-altering effects, it is illegal. Hemp-derived CBD has recently been legalized after its benefits were well-documented.
  • THC is rarely recommended medically (except in some specific cases, with permission from authorities). CBD can now be used as a superfood.
  • While CBD is a good anti-depressant, THC can further aggravate the condition. While both the cannabinoids can effectively calm nerves, THC goes a little overboard with its effects, making people a little depressed.

Is CBD addictive?

As we’ve mentioned earlier, CBD doesn’t have any psychotropic or psychoactive properties. So, it can’t technically be abused. Something that doesn’t have an alluring effect on our minds doesn’t make us crave for it.

  • According to a March 2017 study published in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, CBD’s capacity to produce dependence or result in abuse is as good as that of a placebo. This study indicated that, unlike most other addictive substances in the market (legal or otherwise), CBD’s effects on even marijuana users are not addictive.
  • Another study, published Current Drug Safety in 2011, revealed that CBD has a better safety profile compared to THC. Doses of even up to 1,500 mg/day was found to be safe and well-tolerated by humans in this research. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t impair a user’s motor or psychological functions or alter his heart rate, blood pressure, or body temperature.

On the contrary, CBD can successfully fight addictions resulting from smoking, drug abuse, opioids, marijuana, etc.

CBD Counters Addictions

  • A 2013 report, published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, revealed that CBD can help fight cannabis withdrawal symptoms in 10 days.
  • Another 2010 study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, that conducted a test on 94 cannabis users, showed that smokers of high-CBD strains had reduced attentional bias towards drug and food stimuli compared to those who smoked low-CBD strains. The researchers concluded that “CBD has (the) potential as a treatment for cannabis dependence”.
  • September 2013 study, published in Addictive Behaviors, indicated that CBD can reduce the frequency of cigarette consumption among tobacco smokers by 40% within a week.
  • According to a March 2018 preclinical study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, CBD gel applied on rats, with obvious signs of addictive behavior towards alcohol and/or cocaine, reduced their abuse, and even prevented dependence and withdrawal signs, like anxiety and impulsiveness.
  • In a May 2019 randomized controlled trial on humans, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, CBD was found to be effective in reducing cravings and anxiety from heroin withdrawal. In fact, the study that was carried out on 42 adults with an average of 13 years’ heroin addiction showed no signs of cravings when introduced to their obvious triggers.

Can CBD cause withdrawal after you stop using it?

CBD doesn’t produce addiction, dependence, or tolerance. Then it’s safe to say that it doesn’t result in any withdrawal symptoms either. In fact, CBD, when used over a long period, adjusts to the body in a way that you’d need less amount of it to have the same effect.

Owing to the residual CBD content in the bloodstream, the fresh dose merely reactivates the former, enabling users to make do with much less. This is called “reverse tolerance”.

So much so, a 2007 study, published in Neuropharmacology, revealed that repeated treatment with CBD (but not ∆9-THC) can have neuroprotective effects without producing tolerance.

Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t produce the usual cannabis withdrawal symptoms, like:

  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Profuse Perspiration
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea and/or Abdominal Pain
  • Irregular Appetite
  • Insomnia/other Sleep Disorders
  • Dysphoria (anxiety, depression, general displeasure/ dissatisfaction with life, often centered on sexual orientation)
  • Cravings (for marijuana)

These symptoms are most severe during the first week of quitting marijuana and tapers off by the end of the second week.

Does marijuana contain CBD? Does it have the same effect?

A lot of people wonder about hemp-derived CBD and its difference with marijuana-derived CBD. After all, we know all cannabis plants contain CBD.

Here are a few basic facts:

  1. Hemp-derived CBD contains less than 0.3% THC by total dry weight. Such low THC levels do not produce a high or produce addiction or withdrawal symptoms.
  2. Marijuana-derived CBD oil has high THC-content – one that exceeds the federal limit (0.3% by dry overall weight). Such high-THC strains of cannabis can produce a high, which may lead to dependence and display of withdrawal symptoms if used in excess. This is allowed to be sold only as medicinal marijuana in the US.
  3. A Medicinal Marijuana card is required to purchase CBD oil, containing such high-THC levels, and is available only in some states, where use and sale of medicinal marijuana are legal.
  4. In some cases, medicinal marijuana may be necessary to ease symptoms, such as cancer pain. The synergistic effects of CBD and THC enhance the overall effects of cannabinoids. This is known as the entourage effect.

The Truth Behind CBD’s Powerful Effects

While CBD has been proven to be effective in tackling a variety of ailments, conditions, and diseases, there is still no denying that CBD, too, can cause some adverse effects. They may include:

However, most of these side effects are caused only if you used far too much than your body requires.

Apart from this, CBD also seemed to throw up some unexpected effects when FDA-approved Epidiolex oral solution (a CBD-based medication) was administered to children suffering from rare forms of epilepsy (Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome). During the clinical trials, some patients experienced some undesirable effects, such as…

  • Liver issues
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Rashes
  • Reduced urination, etc.

These symptoms could, however, be related to their predisposed condition or interaction with other medications.

However, no signs of addiction or withdrawal associated with CBD use have been found so far – by both scientists and users alike.

The only scientifically proven relationship that CBD has with addiction or withdrawal is its power to wean patients off them, when caused by drugs, other psychedelic substances, tobacco, opioids, etc.

This is why a lot of researchers, pharmaceutical companies, as well as the medical fraternity have been looking towards CBD to become the next best alternative to replace all symptom relievers, including prescription opioids, which produce dependence, tolerance, addiction, and even withdrawal symptoms.

Ivan writes about Cannabis at The Cannabis Radar. He has a degree in Nutrition Sciences from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre. He likes to spend his spare time reading to his daughter or spending time with his wife.

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