Weed is known for causing red eyes, but what about CBD? We take a look at how this cannabinoid affects the body, and whether it causes this side effect. Is CBD responsible for red eyes? Why does THC cause this effect, and what are the fundamental differences between these two cannabinoids?
Does CBD Cause Red Eyes? Scientifically Explained
Most of us are familiar with the “stoner” stereotype that’s so commonly portrayed in movies and on T.V. shows. It’s usually a long-haired slacker burnout with bloodshot eyes that look like they’ve fallen victim to a spray or two of concentrated pepper spray.
Despite the cliché, however, red, watery, inflamed eyes are indeed one of the most common side effects of cannabis use. But that side effect is commonly associated with marijuana that’s high in THC.
So what about cannabidiol? Does CBD cause red eyes too? In a nutshell, no, it doesn’t. But of course, the answer isn’t quite as simple as that. Keep reading for all you could ever want to know about cannabis, marijuana, THC, and whether CBD causes bloodshot eyes.
Cannabis, CBD, and Bloodshot Eyes
There is little denying that cannabis has the potential to help ease a litany of medical conditions and symptoms. Of course, cannabis plants can differ wildly in terms of their chemical profile. As far as effects on the human body are concerned, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are typically regarded as the two compounds that are best known to influence our physiology.
As far as red eyes in particular, however, THC seems to be the sole culprit. When THC enters the body, it lowers blood pressure and thereby dilates blood vessels. This includes tiny blood vessels that rest behind the eye.
When the vessels dilate (widen), blood flow to the eyes increases rather substantially. This helps to lower built-up pressure and is coincidentally the reason why high-THC cannabis is often used for glaucoma. And that goes for any THC consumption. Things like high-THC edibles and oils will produce equally bloodshot eyes as smoking can.
Things like high-THC edibles and oils will produce equally bloodshot eyes as smoking can.
Unfortunately, the increased flow of blood to the eyes also results in the red, puffy, watery, irritated-looking eye look that’s become so stereotypical of marijuana users over the generations.
CBD does not produce these same kinds of effects, so if you’ve been asking the question ‘does CBD cause red eyes,’ the answer is a fairly resounding ‘no.’ Of course, users could still experience watery eyes from a reaction to the smoke (or some other allergen), but it shouldn’t be the CBD itself that’s causing the irritation.
[If you’re still learning the basics of cannabis, read on below to find out more about what CBD is, what type of cannabis it comes from, and how it differs from THC].
CBD: What Is It?
Although there are hundreds of compounds in marijuana, CBD is one of the main components. As we discussed above, CBD is short for cannabidiol. CBD is found in most strains of cannabis, though in differing amounts.
For example, in potent, THC-heavy strains, CBD may only be present in trace amounts. In high-CBD strains, however, it can account for as much as 20% or more of the plant’s dry weight.
CBD’s chemical structure is quite similar to that of THC. The difference lies in one critical element: CBD contains an extra combination of hydrogen and oxygen. This subtle change enables CBD to work without disrupting cognitive processes.
By most accounts, CBD is cited as safe to use in a variety of forms. A recent report by the World Health Organization corroborates this by stating that CBD “exhibits no effects indicative of abuse or dependence potential.” The report also says, “there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
How CBD Works
The body must keep processes such as temperature, mood, memory, and movement in balance, which is called homeostasis. The endocannabinoid system, also known as the ECS, plays a massive role in this endeavor.
The ECS is abundant in both the peripheral and central nervous systems. It consists of a network of receptors and endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that are made in the human body. The cannabinoids that are found in cannabis plants are called phytocannabinoids. CBD and THC, of course, are both phytocannabinoids.
While THC directly binds to endocannabinoid receptors, however, (thereby galvanizing cognitive changes), CBD acts in a more indirect manner. CBD doesn’t appear to bind directly with any receptor. Instead, it seems to influence a variety of receptor-independent pathways and ion channels to produce a range of beneficial effects.
The dilation of blood vessels is not included among this ‘range of beneficial effects.’ For this reason, we can more or less dispel the myth that CBD causes red eyes.
So CBD Doesn’t Cause Red Eyes… But is it Legal?
After the passing of an updated version of the U.S. Farm Bill back in 2018, many people assumed that CBD became fully legal in the United States. This was because the Farm Bill legalized hemp, which is a distinct cultivar of cannabis that contains high levels of CBD and minimal THC.
The exact legal implications of CBD use under the Farm Bill are a little more complicated than this general assumption. The reality is that hemp-derived CBD products are widely available in most parts of the United States – even in states that do not have medical cannabis programs. Due to their lack of intoxicating effects, consumers use CBD products for their potential therapeutic benefit rather than as recreational substances.
Due to their lack of intoxicating effects, consumers use CBD products for their potential therapeutic benefit rather than as recreational substances.
Individuals are finding that CBD may be an alternative option for things like stress, anxiety, pain, and trouble sleeping. The FDA-approved drug Epidiolex, which is a CBD-based prescription-only medication, is used to treat epilepsy.
Marijuana, on the other hand, is still, of course, a Schedule I substance in the USA. Its use and possession is barred by federal law. However, many individual states have chosen to legalize it in some form or another.
Some states, for example, allow only for the medicinal use of marijuana. Other states permit recreational use. Users must keep advised on the particular laws of their state.
The Science Behind Cannabis and Red Eyes (CBD Isn’t the Culprit!)
A fascinating presentation by Dr. Denise A. Valenti highlights the opposing effects that THC and CBD appear to have on intraocular pressure of the eye (IOP).
In the presentation, Dr. Valenti states that while cannabis is often used to lower pressure in the eye, this is only due to the presence of THC. CBD, she argues, actually works to “spike the pressure in the eye.”
Her claims were further backed up by a 2008 human study that examined the effects of various THC and CBD doses on six glaucoma patients. The results of the study showed that while a 5 mg dose of THC lowered intraocular pressure, a 40 mg dose of CBD actually raised it, while a 20 mg CBD dose had no effect.
While the specific physiology for these reverse IOP effects is not well-understood, it is quite clear that when it comes to red eyes, CBD and THC appear to have opposite effects.
Getting the Red Out
If you do have red eyes from cannabis use, rest assured it’s not too complicated to resolve. Methods for both the avoidance and mollification of marijuana-induced bloodshot eyes include proper hydration and the use of quality eye drops. Or, changing strains from a high-THC strain to a high-CBD/low-THC one may do the trick as well.
All in all, we hope that this article has helped to address the question of whether or not CBD causes red eyes. If you want to use cannabis but aren’t too keen on the irritated eye look, the responsible consumption of quality CBD products may provide an opportunity to experience beneficial effects without suffering from puffy, watery, red eyes.
Can CBD make your eyes red?
In the collective imagination, cannabis is associated with red eyes and a cerebral high. Marijuana smokers can even be easily identified by their red, ringed eyes, euphoria, and drowsiness. The only problem is that red eyes are a side effect of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Unlike THC, cannabidiol (CBD) does not cause red, inflamed, watery eyes. This side effect usually occurs after consuming a product with a very high THC content.
You’re probably wondering why CBD doesn’t make your eyes red like THC, even though both cannabinoids come from the same plant. Why one and not the other? What is the difference between THC and CBD? Why does THC cause red eyes and what can be done about it? All the answers to your questions about CBD and red eye can be found in this article.
Why is CBD not responsible for red eyes?
Therapeutic cannabis can relieve many pains, alleviate stress and anxiety, and help you get a good night’s sleep. Indeed, it is able to affect mood, appetite, pain, sleep, and many other parameters to regulate your body. But when it comes to red eyes, THC is the only molecule responsible.
This is because THC lowers blood pressure and dilates blood vessels, which causes small blood vessels to appear in the eyes. This high blood flow is manifested by red, irritated and watery eyes. A look often associated with cannabis smokers.
That said, CBD is a cannabinoid that does not act like THC. CBD doesn’t cause that rush of blood to the eyes, so it’s not responsible for red eyes. But the difference between CBD and THC does not end there. To fully understand, it seems essential to know the fundamental differences between these two molecules.
The difference between CBD and THC
Hemp lovers have always consumed THC. This molecule, naturally present in cannabis plants, causes psychoactive effects that are highly appreciated by some people, yet illegal. Without human intervention, cannabis has a THC content that predominates over CBD. In some countries, THC can be used for medical purposes. Although THC is still prohibited in France because of its psychoactive effects, its potential should not be underestimated, nor should we stigmatize consumers who may find it a source of relief.
Over time and genetic crossbreeding, some varieties with high CBD content have emerged. Today, products marketed with CBD do not contain THC. They are therefore completely devoid of psychoactive and euphoric effects. CBD allows you to relax, relieve physical pain and sleep well, without altering your physical and mental state, and without any danger to your health.
How does CBD work on the body?
At first glance, THC and CBD look very similar. But if you take a closer look at them, the way they work and their effects are totally different. One of the biggest differences is the chemical structure of CBD, which contains an extra combination of oxygen and hydrogen. This extra layer allows the multiple benefits of cannabis to be enjoyed without disrupting cognitive abilities.
From scientific research, we know that CBD is intimately linked to the endocannabinoid system. Thus, it regulates the body in a beneficial and non-aggressive way. Among these beneficial effects, we can mention the regulation of sleep and mood, the relief of physical pain and mental tension. The dilation of blood vessels and the appearance of red eyes are not part of the effects of CBD.
Why do THC users have red eyes?
As previously explained, the main reason why THC users get red eyes is because of the dilation of blood vessels, especially the blood flow to the eyes. The higher the level of THC, the greater the effect.
The eyes can also become red from tobacco smoke, which is often very irritating. Smoke that enters the sinuses can also make this problem worse. This explains why smokers of cannabis in joint form have red eyes much more easily.
CBD and red eyes: beware of scams!
You have consumed CBD and you have red eyes? You should ask yourself questions about the origin of the product you bought. If your CBD came from a friend or an uncertified seller, you may have consumed THC without your knowledge. In fact, if you have experienced a cerebral high, a great euphoria and an almost uncontrollable urge to sleep, you can be sure that you have taken cannabis with THC.
Normally, all CBD products that you can find on the internet or in a physical shop are subject to numerous quality controls and must meet very strict European standards. By going through a reputable and certified seller, you are guaranteed to get a product rich in CBD and totally free of THC. To conclude, always be vigilant about the origin of the products you consume to avoid unpleasant surprises.
How to get rid of red eyes?
However, if you have been consuming THC or using CBD with tobacco, you probably want to get rid of those unsightly and slightly painful red eyes. To relieve the inflammation and get back to healthy eyes, here are some tips:
- Use eye drops: Putting a few eye drops in your eyes will quickly and effectively relieve the inflammation, while reducing the red, irritated appearance.
- Consume vasoconstrictors: Certain foods such as chocolate, coffee, and salt help counteract the dilation of blood vessels by narrowing them.
- Be patient: Red eyes never stay red for long. Sometimes all it takes is a little rest to make red eyes go away. In the meantime, avoid exposure to screens and sunlight for a few hours, as this may make the condition worse.
Are red eyes bad for my health?
Red eyes are unsightly and sometimes painful, but they are not dangerous to your health. As long as it doesn’t prevent you from going about your daily business, there’s nothing to be alarmed about. However, if this problem persists and does not seem to be improving, you should see a doctor to find out what is causing the problem. As a reminder, it is very unlikely that CBD is responsible for the appearance of red eyes.
Is CBD completely legal?
Yes, CBD is completely legal as long as the finished product does not contain THC and it meets all the current European standards. CBD is not considered a narcotic, doping or psychoactive product. The French law authorizes its marketing under certain conditions: the cultivated cannabis plants must not contain more than 0.2% THC and the finished product must not contain any. THC, however, is still illegal in France. Its marketing and use can be punished by law. All the more reason to choose your CBD products carefully!