It can be distressing to experience vertigo, a feeling that the world around you is spinning. Severe vertigo can even impair your ability to perform daily tasks because it messes with your balance. Something as innocuous as standing up too fast can cause vertigo due to a quick drop in blood pressure.
Vertigo, though, isn’t a condition. Instead, it’s a symptom. It can happen because of underlying conditions, like multiple sclerosis or problems with the inner ear. Certain medications can also bring on bouts of vertigo.
Treatment for vertigo depends on the cause. You may be curious about home remedies, or even natural substances, like cannabidiol (CBD).
In this article, we take a closer look at CBD, whether it can help with vertigo, and potential side effects. We’ll also explore vertigo treatments, and cover when to see a doctor for vertigo.
CBD comes from the Cannabis plant. It has some potential health benefits, including relief from insomnia and pain.
CBD is similar to another cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but it doesn’t produce the same “high” THC does.
You can find CBD in many forms, including:
People looking for full-body effects to ease conditions, like chronic pain and insomnia, should stick to ingested products, like oils, gummies, and capsules. Topicals are a better option for targeted pain, like joint pain.
There are also several types of CBD:
- Isolate. This is pure CBD and contains only CBD.
- Broad-spectrum. Broad-spectrum CBD contains some cannabis compounds (like other cannabinoids), but no THC.
- Full-spectrum. Full-spectrum CBD has some THC (less than 0.3 percent for federally legal products) and myriad other cannabis plant compounds, like terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids.
Research suggests that CBD works better when paired with THC, which is why a full-spectrum product is more likely to provide benefits than isolate. This is called the entourage effect.
However, if you want to avoid THC, you’re better off with an isolate or broad-spectrum product. Still, be aware that any type of CBD may contain trace amounts of THC, which could show up on a drug test.
CBD is unlikely to help with vertigo. However, it may help with related symptoms, like nausea.
Animal research from 2016 showed that CBD reduces nausea in rats, while human studies of people undergoing chemotherapy showed that a combination of CBD and THC may help with treatment-induced nausea.
Still, the available research on CBD and nausea focuses primarily on chemotherapy-related nausea and not nausea related to vertigo.
If you have vertigo, it’s possible that CBD could make you feel dizzier. Some research on cannabis (including both THC and CBD) note dizziness as a side effect.
Another 2020 study of people undergoing chemotherapy found that, although THC and CBD together helped reduce nausea and vomiting, 31 percent of participants experienced moderate or severe dizziness, disorientation, or sedation.
There’s also research that CBD may lower blood pressure, which could potentially worsen vertigo.
A 2017 study found that participants who took 600 mg of CBD had lower blood pressure than the placebo group. However, the study was very small, with only nine male participants.
The World Health Organization considers it safe to take CBD. But it’s possible to experience mild side effects, like:
- appetite changes
- weight changes
Despite the short list of side effects, it’s crucial to talk with your doctor if you’re taking any medications and considering taking CBD. It’s possible for CBD to interact with certain medications, like those that come with a grapefruit warning.
Additionally, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sends out warning letters to CBD brands misrepresenting or mislabeling their products, the organization doesn’t regulate CBD products in the same way it does with prescription medications.
That means not all CBD products are safe to take, because they might not contain what’s on the label.
A 2021 study that looked at Poison Control Center cases between 2019 and 2020 found that reports involving CBD-containing products are increasing. Reported side effects from these cases include dizziness, vertigo, and nausea. Researchers suggested that this increase may have to do with inaccurate or fraudulent labeling of CBD products.
This is why, if you do decide to try CBD, it’s crucial to go with a company that has products tested by a reputable third-party lab and provides up-to-date certificates of analysis (COAs).
Treatment for vertigo typically depends on the underlying condition causing the feelings of dizziness. For instance, if medication is causing your vertigo, your doctor may recommend a different one.
Treatment also depends on the type of vertigo you have.
- Peripheral vertigo. Peripheral vertigo is caused by an issue with your inner ear, which is responsible for your balance.
- Central vertigo. Central vertigo involves your brain.
Depending on the type and cause, your doctor may recommend:
- medication to help with acute vertigo episodes
- exercises or physical therapy to improve balance (for people with permanent inner ear conditions)
- avoiding vertigo triggers
- surgical treatment (only as a last resort)
In people with benign positional vertigo, head rotations (such as the Epley maneuver) can help reposition calcium deposits that may be causing problems in the inner ear.
It’s time to see a doctor for vertigo if it:
- isn’t going away
- happens frequently
- happens with other symptoms, like:
- loss of consciousness
- vision problems
- tingling or weakness in your body
- slurred speech
- problems walking
- chest pain
There’s no evidence that CBD can help with vertigo. In fact, it may make vertigo worse for some people.
If you’re experiencing frequent episodes of vertigo, consider talking with your doctor. It may be a sign of an underlying condition that requires treatment.
Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.