Believe it or not, in 2017 the World Health Organisation determined that CBD is not addictive or open to abuse and that it carries a good safety profile. But that doesn’t mean there are no risks at all.
Obviously we don't want to scare you off, but you should be aware that even on the mild side of things, CBD can cause fatigue, irritability or headaches when taken above the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 70mg per day. Other less desired effects can include nausea or even diarrhoea in some cases. Sounds lovely right?
There is also evidence that persistent daily doses above the RDA can bring with it an increased risk of liver toxicity, due to the accumulative effects of CBD in the body. If you are on other medication it is really important to check with your doctor or pharmacist before diving straight in.
Having said all that, CBD taken responsibly is generally well tolerated by most people and can in turn support a range of health benefits without noticeable or troublesome side effects.
The Power of Hemp
Hemp is renowned for being one of the most effective phyto-remedial plants on the planet, which essentially means it will suck up all the good stuff (and the bad) from the water, soil and air within its reach. The “not so good” can include a whole range of "nasties" including hydrocarbons, heavy metals and pesticides to name a few. None of which are any good for us and if present in a finished product above safe thresholds, can impose some pretty serious health risks.
Some brands claim their products are organically sourced which sounds fantastic and is what a lot of us want to hear. Remember though, these products still come from a natural source so they may, depending on their origin, contain a variety of harmful impurities or contaminants.
CBD products are supposed to comply with general product safety regulations, but independent testing has shown the presence of potentially harmful impurities in a significant number of products being sold in the UK today.
A product’s Certificate of Origin, helps anyone buying CBD products to better understand the provenance and therefore the quality of their CBD, yet only a handful of companies are open enough about these things.
“Certified THC Free”, oh really?
CBD products that contain unknown or undisclosed levels of “controlled drugs” known to have psychoactive effects such as THC, have potentially dangerous implications for us in a range of settings such as driving a car or operating machinery. Manufacturers therefore have a responsibility and duty of care to ensure their products do not contain “controlled drugs” above the legal limits. Sadly, many products in the UK continue to fall way below the mark.
Whilst CBD alone is not psychoactive and therefore not “controlled”, a product containing CBD must not exceed 1mg combined of any other 'controlled' drug derived from Cannabis. According to the UK Home Office, these so far include THC, THCa, THCv and CBN - and they are all present in Hemp in tiny amounts.
If a product has been analysed with sufficient levels of sensitivity by an independent & accredited laboratory, a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) should then be made available. This should clearly verify whether or not a product is within the legal limits.
A CBD brand claiming their products are “THC Free” or “THC not detected” could simply imply that they haven’t looked hard enough for it and that the accompanying CoA is misleading and possibly not worth the paper it was written on.
UK Law, Generally Speaking
All CBD products sold in the UK are subject to product safety rules including clear labelling of ingredients and product usage in line with published FSA guidelines. Not complying with these basic requirements means a company would be subject to enforcement by the Trading Standards Agency.
CBD Companies making claims about their products should also bear in mind that no medical claims should be made about any CBD products, unless they have been approved for medical use by the Medicines & Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). There are very few medicines containing CBD approved at this level in the UK and you won’t find them online or in shops.
Cosmetic products containing CBD
In the UK & EU, CBD like any other recognised cosmetic ingredient is legal if a product meets Article 3 of the EU Cosmetics Regulations.
Manufacturers of any cosmetic products must appoint a 'Responsible Person’ to notify the EU through the Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP) before a product can be placed on the market, demonstrating clearly that a product is safe and presents no risk to human health.
Separately, cosmetic products containing CBD cannot contain any amount of a “controlled drug” and must not come from cannabis resin or broad-spectrum CBD oil. As such, only a pure form of CBD isolate is approved for use in cosmetic products. In order to maintain compliance, manufacturers can only use CBD isolate derived from Hemp leaf that has been cultivated from a seed on the EU approved catalogue.
Food Supplements & Beverages
In recent years CBD became widely available in many forms across a booming and somewhat self-regulating industry. This has made it increasingly difficult for regulators to keep up and for Local Authorities to effectively enforce guidelines in order to protect us.
To complicate things, ingestible CBD products have recently been classified as Novel Foods throughout the UK & EU. That is quite the upgrade from a humble food supplement and means that any brand wishing to sell them must align their products with a valid Novel Food Application before 31st March 2021. Otherwise they risk their products being removed from the market.
Great News for Consumers
The re-classification of CBD as a Novel Food is of huge benefit to anyone already using CBD products or thinking about trying them. Compliant products will carry a level of assurance across a wide range of important factors often overlooked such as a product’s provenance, quality and general safety profile.
For confidence, check to see if the product you are considering trying is aligned with a Novel Food Application that meets all the set criteria for a legal and safe product to be on the market.