CBD Oil Side Effects: Is Cannabidiol Good or Bad for Your Kidneys?

cbd side effects on kidneys
By Nick Congleton Updated March 8th

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

The kidneys serve an extremely important role in the body, removing toxins and waste products. They also work to maintain a healthy balance of key minerals in the blood, like sodium, calcium, and potassium. These vital organs also produce hormones used in the creation of red blood cells, help maintain blood pressure, and improve bone health.

The endocannabinoid system is distributed throughout the entire body, including the kidneys. While science isn’t exactly certain how CBD interacts with the kidneys, there is some evidence that CBD can be beneficial or harmful, depending on the circumstances.1

In this article, we take a look at the possible side effects CBD oil may have on kidneys, in order to answer the question, “Is CBD bad for your kidneys?”

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What is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabinoid produced naturally by the cannabis plant. While THC is the most popular cannabinoid and is well-known for producing the intoxicating effects of cannabis known as the “high”, CBD is non-intoxicating

CBD has many reported benefits, like alleviating pain, inflammation, and anxiety. Many of these benefits are supported by plenty of anecdotal evidence, though additional scientific studies are called for.

CBD oil is a tincture that combines concentrated CBD extracted from hemp or cannabis plants with a carrier oil. Those oils are usually coconut-based MCT oils, but they can be hemp or olive oils. CBD oil is made using a concentrate, meaning it has a higher concentration of CBD than what’s naturally found in the plant. 

Depending on how the CBD was extracted, it could be full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or an isolate. Full-spectrum extracts contain all the cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant, including THC (though typically in concentrations of 0.3% or lower). These offer the full benefit of the entourage effect

If you want or need to avoid THC for any reason, a broad-spectrum extract may be more suitable since it contains almost all of the cannabinoids and terpenes of the plant (but is stripped of THC). CBD isolate is pure cannabidiol that has been isolated from the rest of the plant material. This option isn’t common for oils. Isolates are typically used to infuse other products with CBD without imparting any taste or smell from the plant.

Does CBD Oil Have a Beneficial Effect on the Kidneys?

Does CBD Oil Have a Beneficial Effect on the Kidneys

Because all cannabis, including hemp, was federally illegal until 2018, it was difficult for scientists to conduct studies using the plant. As a result, there isn’t much research on CBD oil and kidney disease (and there's even less on how THC may affect the kidneys). 

A 2019 study looked at the effects of CBD on patients suffering from kidney disease. The study found that patients using CBD were up to three times more likely to experience a greater than 30% reduction in pain when compared to the placebo group.2

A 2008 study found that CBD was able to help limit kidney damage and toxicity caused by cancer treatment in mice. There was also evidence that CBD improved kidney function. While these results are promising, further study is needed to understand how the benefits may translate to humans.3

There is a growing body of evidence that the body’s endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating healthy kidney function. Not only are endocannabinoid receptors found throughout the kidneys, scientists have been able to unravel some of the roles that these receptors play in overall kidney function. This has led some researchers to conclude that non-intoxicating cannabinoids, like CBD, may be beneficial in treating kidney disease.4

In a review of current research on cannabis and the kidneys, experts concluded that cannabinoids, like CBD, may be beneficial in treating symptoms of kidney disease and don’t seem to pose a risk to healthy kidneys. The researchers did caution against smoking cannabis, however, because of the risks associated with inhaling smoke.5 And given the important role kidneys play in the body, patients with kidney disease should always consult with their physician or nephrologist before adding cannabis to their daily routine.

Can CBD Oil Have a Harmful Effect on the Kidneys?

Can CBD Oil Have a Harmful Effect on the Kidneys

A lack of research and inconsistent findings have made it difficult to make definitive claims whether CBD is bad for your kidneys. 

A 2018 study looked at the impact of medical cannabis (but not CBD exclusively) on patients with chronic kidney disease. The study found that there was no change in kidney function in healthy people using medical cannabis. There did appear to be a sharper decline in kidney filtration rates for patients who already had chronic kidney disease, but the reasons aren’t fully understood, and the study encouraged further exploration.6

In a review of existing research on cannabinoids and the kidneys, researchers found strong evidence that the endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in regulating kidney function. They found that cannabinoids could either disrupt or promote regular function of the ECS. This seems to support existing evidence that cannabis may have different effects on different individuals. Until further research can be conducted, and because of the way cannabinoids interact with the ECS, many practitioners view CBD is a lower-risk option than THC for patients coping with kidney disease.

Regardless, the guidance of a qualified medical practitioner or nephrologist can help patients understand how and if cannabis should be added to an existing treatment regimen.

In one instance, synthetic cannabinoids may have been linked to the development of kidney disease in an otherwise healthy individual. The researchers concluded that more research and caution were necessary.7

Another study reviewed results from animal studies on the potential toxicity of CBD.8 While researchers found the potential for serious negative effects, it is worth noting that many studies conducted on animals use doses of CBD far beyond anything people would use. For example, a study linking CBD to constipation in mice administered the equivalent of 3,321 ten milligram doses of CBD, literally thousands of times more than the average consumer adult human is likely to consume in a given day.

How Do Other CBD Products Affect the Kidneys?

How Do Other CBD Products Affect the Kidneys

Most of the research conducted on CBD and the kidneys isn’t specific to one form of CBD or another. Most of these studies looked into the effects of the endocannabinoid system on a small scale or evaluated the effects of any CBD product on patients suffering from kidney disease. 

Either way, they didn’t examine the differences between CBD oil, flower, and edibles or the differences between full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. Research is needed  to explore these variations further.

It should be noted that smoking comes with its own inherent risks, whether smoking CBD, THC, or tobacco. So while further study is needed, patients with a kidney condition may wish to stick to non-smoking methods of CBD consumption.

CBD Oil For Kidneys: Dosages

CBD Oil Dosage For Kidneys

There is no official medical guidance on CBD dosing, and no clear research stating which doses work best for specific conditions. 

It’s important to remember that CBD was only legalized federally in 2018. The state of medical understanding around CBD is still in its earliest stages. Those seeking to use CBD for medicinal purposes are able to consult with their doctor for guidance. But those without a medical card are, unfortunately, left to rely on consumer testimonials, brand advertising, and common sense. 

Before starting with any cannabis product, take the time to speak with a licensed healthcare professional about your condition, your treatment goals, and any other medications you may be taking. If your physician gives you the go-ahead, they can recommend a method of consumption and starting dose. 

In general, it’s best to start with a dose that might seem too low and slowly work your way up. Begin with a lower-concentration product or try for between 10 mg and 20 mg of CBD per dose when starting out. You can test how you feel with that dose and take a second dose as needed. The risks associated with CBD are considered to be far lower than those found with THC, but it’s still important to use caution and take steps to avoid any unwanted effects.

There’s an enormous variety of well-made, great-tasting CBD edibles, and licensed brands clearly label the CBD concentration in each piece. Typical edibles contain between 10 mg and 20 mg of CBD per piece. This is a suitable starting point for many beginners (but keep in mind that 10 mg of THC could still be overwhelming, especially for newer consumers). Like cannabis edibles, CBD edibles might take longer for you to feel the effects. That’s why it’s important to space out your doses. Wait at least 2 hours before taking another dose, and consider limiting total CBD intake to 40 mg per day to start.

Vaping isn’t as easy to regulate dosage, so it may be best to start with vape cartridges that have a lower concentration of CBD (and little to no THC). Start with one or two puffs at a time. You should feel the effects within a few minutes.

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is a highly-concentrated form of cannabis that’s most commonly used for medical purposes. Due to its multiple patient-reported benefits, some manufacturers have started making a CBD version of RSO, though it’s not as common as the high-THC variety. RSO usually comes in a syringe, and CBD concentrations can range from 600 mg to over 2000 mg. Because RSO is highly concentrated, it’s not typically recommended for beginners. If you insist on trying RSO, it’s best to start with the smallest amount possible to carefully control your RSO dosage.

Topicals provide localized relief, making them ideal for muscle soreness but not so great for anxiety or – in this case – kidney problems. 

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CBD Oil Side Effects to Watch Out For

CBD is generally considered a safe substance to use when accurately dosed. Most people tolerate it very well. And while there are stories about people having issues with CBD products, those are generally linked to low-quality, untested products with inaccurate labeling. To help avoid undesirable side effects of any medication, including CBD, make sure you are purchasing products from licensed dispensaries and reputable brands with third-party lab testing and a certificate of analysis (COA). 

Some people may still experience side effects related to CBD. While they’re usually mild, it is worth looking out for them and contacting your doctor if you have any concerns. Feelings of tiredness and sleepiness are most common and generally aren’t cause for concern (and may even be the reason you’re taking CBD).

Common side effects of CBD include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Headaches
  • Weight changes (usually associated with appetite)

CBD also may interact with some medications. It’s always important to consult your physician before adding something new to your routine. If you experience the above side effects or are concerned about CBD interacting with existing medications, consult your physician. 

Bottomline: Does CBD Oil Help or Hurt the Kidneys?

The research on CBD for kidney conditions remains unclear, and there is yet no definitive answer whether CBD is good or bad for the kidneys. The only result researchers agree on is that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating the kidneys, and CBD can affect the ECS. 

There is evidence that CBD can help alleviate the symptoms typically associated with kidney issues, like pain and inflammation, but precisely how CBD affects the kidneys requires further research. 

As such, the decision to use CBD in conjunction with other treatments for chronic kidney disease is best made with the support of a qualified medical practitioner who understands your condition and any medications you may be taking.


1.  Park F, Potukuchi PK, Moradi H, Kovesdy CP. Cannabinoids and the kidney: effects in health and disease. American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology. 2017;313(5):F1124-F1132. doi:https://doi.org/10.1152/ajprenal.00290.2017

2.  Ho C, Martinusen D, Lo C. A Review of Cannabis in Chronic Kidney Disease Symptom Management. Canadian Journal of Kidney Health and Disease. 2019;6:205435811982839. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/2054358119828391

3. Pan H, Mukhopadhyay P, Rajesh M, et al. Cannabidiol Attenuates Cisplatin-Induced Nephrotoxicity by Decreasing Oxidative/Nitrosative Stress, Inflammation, and Cell Death. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 2008;328(3):708-714. doi:https://doi.org/10.1124/jpet.108.147181

4. Tam J. The emerging role of the endocannabinoid system in the pathogenesis and treatment of kidney diseases. Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology. 2016;27(3). doi:https://doi.org/10.1515/jbcpp-2015-0055

5.  Rein JL. The nephrologistʼs guide to cannabis and cannabinoids. Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension. 2020;29(2):248-257. doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/mnh.0000000000000590

6. Nesbitt H. American Society of Nephrology | Kidney Week - Abstract Details. www.asn-online.org. Accessed November 26, 2021. https://www.asn-online.org/education/kidneyweek/2018/program-abstract.aspx?controlId=3017229

7. Park F, Potukuchi PK, Moradi H, Kovesdy CP. Cannabinoids and the kidney: effects in health and disease. American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology. 2017;313(5):F1124-F1132. doi:https://doi.org/10.1152/ajprenal.00290.2017

8. Huestis MA, Solimini R, Pichini S, Pacifici R, Carlier J, Busardò FP. Cannabidiol Adverse Effects and Toxicity. Current Neuropharmacology. 2019;17(10):974-989. doi:https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159X17666190603171901

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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