Misleading, unproven, or false claims associated with CBD products may lead consumers to put off getting important medical care, such as proper diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care. For that reason, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best way to treat diseases or conditions with available FDA-approved treatment options.
The FDA is working to answer questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, particularly CBD.
The FDA continues to believe the drug approval process represents the best way to ensure that safe and effective new medicines, including any drugs derived from cannabis, are available to patients in need of appropriate medical therapy. The agency is committed to supporting the development of new drugs, including cannabis and cannabis-derived drugs, through the investigational new drug and drug approval process.
Unproven medical claims, unsafe manufacturing practices
The FDA is evaluating the regulatory frameworks that apply to certain cannabis-derived products that are intended for non-drug uses, including whether and/or how the FDA might consider updating its regulations, as well as whether potential legislation might be appropriate. The information we have underscores the need for further study and high quality, scientific information about the safety and potential uses of CBD.
In addition, CBD can be the cause of side effects that you might notice. These side effects should improve when CBD is stopped or when the amount used is reduced. This could include changes in alertness, most commonly experienced as somnolence (sleepiness), but this could also include insomnia; gastrointestinal distress, most commonly experienced as diarrhea and/or decreased appetite but could also include abdominal pain or upset stomach; and changes in mood, most commonly experienced as irritability and agitation.
CBD products are also being marketed for pets and other animals. The FDA has not approved CBD for any use in animals and the concerns regarding CBD products with unproven medical claims and of unknown quality equally apply to CBD products marketed for animals. The FDA recommends pet owners talk with their veterinarians about appropriate treatment options for their pets.
The FDA is actively working to learn more about the safety of CBD and CBD products, including the risks identified above and other topics, such as:
You bet. CBD can help clear up and calm down your skin in a few ways. For one, it works by relieving stress, which happens whether you take CBD orally or topically, says Capano: “We know that mood, especially stress, can influence skin irritation—so this is kind of a one-two punch.”
The bad news: Your body metabolizes CBD through a pathway in your liver known as CYP 450, where enzymes break up potentially harmful compounds—and it’s the same pathway in your liver that metabolizes most common prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, says Capano.
For oils, creams, and other topical treatments—which are a great option for eczema, burns, or other skin conditions—“dosage depends on the concentration of the product, but generally just apply a small amount, as needed,” suggests Capano. Topicals also can help with headaches or migraines if you apply it at onset. And if getting your CBD with a vaporizer, start small. “You need less from a vaporizer and will have a very rapid onset,” she says. For this reason, she recommends trying just 2.5 mg at first.
How long does CBD take to work?
If you use CBD daily for preventative reasons and don’t need quick relief, an oral product might be for you. They take the longest to onset (read: at least an hour or two), but, says Capano, “they’re a good option for people who don’t like the taste of tinctures and want the convenience of capsules.”
Still, “less is more,” she says, because CBD is metabolized through the same pathway in your liver as many common prescription and OTC meds. For that reason, Capano recommends sticking with full-spectrum products (which contain multiple cannabidinoids and oils, vitamins, and more natural compounds) as opposed to isolate products, which are pure CBD. “With full-spectrum products, you need a lower dose—and that might prevent drug interactions,” she explains. (Drug interactions are pretty uncommon, especially at low doses, but can occur with some commonly used ones, such as SSRIs and blood thinners.) Plus, with smaller doses, you’ll avoid stressing out your liver.
“There’s some evidence out there that CBD can adversely affect a damaged liver, and there’s other evidence that shows it can be helpful—it seems to depend on the underlying cause of liver damage,” Capano adds. If you already have liver issues, talk with your doc, keep a close eye on your dosage, and be sure to monitor hepatic enzymes every three months.
It also helps cell turnover, which can improve acne prone skin and brighten your complexion. Plus, because of its potent inflammatory properties, CBD can even lessen overactive sebum production and breakouts, and can reduce the frequency and severity of eczema and psoriasis flares.
CBD oil should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.
If you’re considering using CBD oil, you should speak to your GP or other healthcare professional to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for you to do so.
A small number of patients in the UK may be prescribed a cannabis-based medicine to treat epilepsy or nausea during chemotherapy. Visit the NHS website for more information on medical cannabis.
Is it safe to use CBD oil?
Although the use of CBD is controversial, it does seem to be tolerated by most people. It has, however, caused hypotension and light-headedness in a small number of patients. As it does not contain the THC part of the cannabis plant, the oil will not induce a ‘high’.
CBD may also have the potential to help reduce acne; however, it is important to note that this research is still in its infancy.
For all the above uses of CBD, more human studies are needed to draw conclusive results.
Most large health food stores will stock ‘pure’ CBD oil. However, as it is classed as a ‘food supplement’ rather than a ‘medicinal product’, it isn’t regulated in the UK. This means you cannot know for sure that the product you buy contains the ‘active’ ingredients at the amounts listed on the label. Furthermore, the product may contain contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals and other elements. For this reason, the NHS highlights there is no guarantee that these products will be of good quality or provide the intended health benefits.