CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a hemp-based chemical. When mixed with a carrier oil like MCT it preserves CBD before transforming into a commercial product. CBD contains only trace amounts (.3%) of THC, the psychotropic substance that produces the feeling of a “high.” But does CBD have any health risks? Let’s find out.
CBD interacts with a vast cell-signaling system within the human body called the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system contains critical receptors that play an important role in numerous functions, from combating inflammation to relieving pain.
The FDA and CBD oil
Although CBD is widespread in pharmacies, gas stations, and online stores, CBD products don’t have much backing on the federal level.
The FDA has only greenlit one CBD-based drug to treat pediatric epilepsy, Epidiolex. It is a highly purified pharmaceutical-grade version of CBD and the production takes place under rigorously controlled conditions.
It’s quite different from what you would find in public avenues. Public marketplaces have CBD, which is unregulated and may contain harmful additives, such as pesticides and heavy metals.
Moreover, there’s no sure way to ascertain these products’ dosing because scientists believe CBD concentration is not the same as advertised on the labeling.
Even with Epidiolex, researchers identified one prominent risk: liver damage. However, researchers also believed that this risk could be contained if the drug was taken under medical supervision. Some experts also suggest that CBD’s link with liver toxicity is dubious at best (more on this later).
Aside from Epidiolex, the FDA has stated that no other CBD product has undergone extensive human clinical trials to determine its safety, efficacy, and dosing, among other things.
Because of these reasons, the health regulatory authority has also prohibited CBD companies from peddling their products as cures or treatments for particular diseases. The FDA sent warning letters to many companies who were found guilty of this behavior.
Why do people use CBD oil?
Although CBD science is still inconclusive, preliminary studies conducted on animals suggest that CBD may play a role in managing chronic pain, reducing anxiety and depression, curbing the effects of chemotherapy, controlling epileptic seizures, as well as providing many other therapeutic benefits.
The World Health Organization published a critical review which boasted of CBD’s excellent safety profile. Unlike marijuana, the WHO states that CBD doesn’t have any potential for substance abuse and has mild and manageable side effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, some side effects of CBD include:
- Appetite suppression
- Dry Mouth
Potential risks with CBD oil
Harvard Health has reported two of the most concerning issues with CBD use:
- CBD can interfere with the drug action of certain medications similarly to grapefruit juice
- CBD is a health supplement. Therefore, the FDA doesn’t test it the same way it tests for pharmaceutical drugs.
In line with the FDA, Harvard researchers warn that the CBD industry’s lack of regulation may lead to inconsistent quality of CBD products. Some manufacturers have taken measures to address these problems. For instance, some CBD companies publish third-party test lab results to inform their consumers of accurate CBD concentrations and stake of other contents in their CBD formulations.
However, there are still some bad eggs that don’t support independent lab testing. This leaves many consumers at a dangerous disadvantage, with no sure way of knowing what they’re taking is actually pure CBD or something entirely else.
Since a large proportion of CBD consumers take CBD with other over the counter medications, many are at an increased risk of interaction exposure. Drug-drug interactions are detrimental to a person’s health in many ways. They cause harmful side effects and affect the overall absorption and efficacy of the drugs in questions.
The liver produces an important enzyme called CYP34. CYP3A4 is involved in a variety of chemical reactions that break down drugs and toxins in the body.
Grapefruit has been found to hinder the enzymatic activity of CYP3A4 and cause metabolic disruption, allowing drugs to accumulate in the liver and causing liver toxicity.
Researchers hint that CBD might have similar effects to Grapefruit, which is a cause for serious concern, especially considering CYP3A4 enzymes metabolize 60% of the drugs in the market. It is best to consult your doctor before using CBD to prevent dangerous interactions between agonist and antagonist drugs.
CBD’s Interaction with Other Medications
Studies indicate that CBD may interact with the following medications:
- Blood Thinners: A report published showed a significant interaction between Epidiolex and warfarin, a popular anticoagulant. This is dangerous because it can lead to fatal-level bleeding in some individuals.
- Anti-Epileptic Drugs (AEDs): Even though Epidiolex is the approved drug for epilepsy, inaccurate dosing can aggravate epileptic seizures instead of curbing them.
- Chemotherapy: CBD can interfere with chemotherapy drugs, reducing their bioavailability and consequently lowering their efficacy.
Other research has suggested that CBD may interact with the following medications:
- Antidepressants and Anti-anxiety Medications
- Cold or Flu Medications
- Blood Pressure Medications (Beta Blockers)
It’s important to consult a physician before taking Epidiolex or self-medicating with any form of CBD. A doctor is in the best position to analyze your medical present and past and provide medical advice accordingly.
Is CBD a risk factor for Your Liver?
An article published in Forbes claimed that CBD could have the same damaging effect on the liver as alcohol. However, proponents of CBD later debunked this claim. They said that it was based on a dubious study, of which mice, instead of humans, were participants. Any study conducted on animals cannot be equated to human physiology. This is a common principle of scientific research.
Moreover, the mice ingested .25% of CBD per their body weight, which is unrealistic. No human is supplementing with this much, which calls into question the authenticity of the study.
Unless extensive human clinical trials are conducted to confirm whether CBD is safe for human consumption or not, CBD remains in the grey zone, between the good and bad. The World Health Organization has, however, put in a good word for CBD, claiming the compound has an excellent safety profile and isn’t known to cause any adverse side effects.