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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.

Marijuana, 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.

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].

What Is CBD?

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 psychoactive 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.

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.

Does CBD Make Your Eyes Red?

THC has become a lot more commonplace in society over the last few years, but that doesn’t mean you want to be considered a stoner just because you use CBD. Even though having red eyes isn’t dangerous, it’s understandable that you’d like to know whether smoking CBD or using this cannabinoid any other way is likely to make your eyes red. In this guide, learn whether CBD will make your eyes red, and discover some of the key differences between smoking THC and smoking CBD.

Why do some types of Cannabis sativa products make your eyes red?

Since the dawn of stoner culture, having red eyes has been considered a telltale sign that you’ve recently partaken of reefer. Despite the fact that the average cannabis smoker has no idea why weed makes your eyes red, their bloodshot, swollen eyeballs have either been exhibited as objects of pride or desperately hidden from law enforcement officers.

Why does Cannabis sativa make your eyes red, though? Many cannabis smokers would guess that weed smoke gets in your eyes and makes them irritated. If that’s the case, however, why don’t cigarettes or campfires do the same thing?

To find the answer, we need to turn back time to the early days of the medical marijuana movement in the United States. Despite the fact that American culture was far more averse to cannabis then than it is now, voters and thought leaders were swayed by the evidence that medical weed could help with serious conditions. The first medical marijuana patients in California and other early-adopter states sought help with chemotherapy-induced nausea, terminal illnesses, and, in some cases, glaucoma.

Glaucoma is an ocular condition that causes swelling in the eyeballs. Somewhat ironically, glaucoma can make your eyes red, but there’s nothing funny about the fact that this condition gradually damages your optic nerves and can even cause you to go blind.

At the root of glaucoma is increased intraocular pressure, which is in turn caused by ocular hypertension. Wherever it occurs in your body, high blood pressure can wreak havoc and lead to severe medical conditions, and in the case of glaucoma, hypertension can take away your sight.

Early advocates of medical marijuana treatment for glaucoma didn’t recommend weed because it gets you high and makes you forget about your painful, swollen eyeballs and deteriorating optic nerves. On the contrary, they suggested that glaucoma patients ingest cannabis because of its documented vasodilatory properties .

Because THC makes your veins expand, it can reduce intraocular pressure and help with glaucoma. By widening the capillaries in your eyes, however, marijuana also allows blood to flood into your peepers, making your red ocular capillaries stand out more than usual. THC is such a potent vasodilator, in fact, that it can make your eyes positively swell with blood.

So no, your eyes don’t get red after you smoke weed because you got smoke in your eyes or you have the munchies. It’s for the same reason that cannabis helps with glaucoma—THC is a vasodilator that increases blood flow throughout your body.

Does CBD make your eyes red like THC?

If THC makes your eyes red because it is a vasodilator, does CBD do the same thing? To answer this question, we’ll need to take a look at research into the cardiovascular effects of CBD and the anecdotal evidence that has amassed around this subject.

It can’t be denied that quite a few CBD users have noted eye redness after smoking CBD or ingesting this cannabinoid in another way. In some cases, these symptoms can be attributed to ingesting CBD products that also contain THC, but certain red-eyed CBD users swear that they ingested CBD isolate or other product types that only contain cannabidiol without THC.

However, the available evidence on CBD and intraocular blood pressure seems to conflict with this anecdotal testimony. While clinical research has been conducted into the potential vasodilatory effects of CBD , research indicates that this cannabinoid might increase intraocular blood pressure , not lower it.

Unfortunately, only a very limited amount of research has been conducted into the vasodilatory properties of CBD, and as with all arenas of science, studies must be replicated to confirm their results. So far, the evidence on CBD and intraocular pressure is too limited to reach any firm conclusions. Based on what we do know, however, it’s extremely unlikely that smoking CBD or ingesting this cannabinoid any other way will make your eyes red.

Lots of things aside from CBD can make your eyes red, however. Allergies, illnesses, and other factors can irritate your eyes, and vasodilators aside from THC can also increase ocular blood flow. These alternative factors might help explain cases in which people who used CBD experienced eye reddening despite the fact that this cannabinoid does not share the vasodilatory properties of THC.

Other differences between smoking CBD and THC

While the eye redness associated with THC usually occurs in tandem with this cannabinoid’s intoxicating effects, THC doesn’t make your eyes red because it gets you high. If you want to avoid getting high and keep your eyes from getting red at the same time, however, you might want to try smoking CBD instead of THC.

Unlike THC, CBD won’t get you high no matter how much CBD-rich hemp flower you smoke. This means that smoking CBD also won’t make you hallucinate, panic, or develop delusions of grandeur. Even smoking CBD long-term won’t result in psychological or physiological addiction since this cannabinoid isn’t habit-forming, and CBD also won’t give you the munchies.

In general, smoking CBD is a much more relaxing, mild, and centering experience than smoking THC. While THC provides you with an initial rush of euphoria, this sense of intoxication can alter your mental state and lead to addiction.

Smoking CBD, on the other hand, offers all the delicious aromas and flavors of Cannabis sativa without getting you high or leading to dependence. Even better, CBD doesn’t appear to have any serious side effects , so you can enjoy this cannabinoid without worrying about damaging your health.

As if all these advantages weren’t enough, you’ve learned in this guide that CBD also won’t give you red eyes. Smoke CBD flower content in the knowledge that you won’t feel high and that no one will accuse you of getting high based on the color of your eyes.

Will smoking CBD make your eyes red?

There are tons of different factors that might make your eyes red after using CBD even though this cannabinoid isn’t a vasodilator. By law, CBD flower must contain less than 0.3% THC, but for some people, this tiny amount of THC might cause enough vasodilation to make your eyes slightly red. Plus, you might be allergic to certain terpenes, flavonoids, or other compounds in hemp flower, and you might just be the kind of person whose eyes are sensitive to smoke.

So, we won’t guarantee that CBD flower won’t give you red eyes even though there doesn’t appear to be anything in this type of hemp product that will increase ocular blood flow. THC is such a great ocular vasodilator that it’s used for glaucoma to this day, but CBD doesn’t share these qualities. If you have any lingering questions about CBD making your eyes red, contact us at any time, and check out the other guides in the Secret Nature blog for excellent educational materials on all things CBD.

Red eyes are the telltale sign of a stoner. Does smoking CBD cause the same easily recognizable effect? Find out if CBD makes your eyes red in this guide.