Pregnant and breastfeeding women urged to avoid CBD by ‘concerned’ regulator after early animal research showing toxicity to unborn babies
- The Food Standards Agency (FSA) advised vulnerable people to steer clear
- No human research exists on CBD, but animal research suggests toxicity
- The agency is also cracking down on businesses which don’t comply with rules
- CBD, formally cannabidiol, is a compound of the marijuana plant
- It’s been infused into everything from oils and candles to bakery and makeup
Pregnant and breastfeeding women have been warned to avoid CBD by ‘concerned’ regulators.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) made the recommendations in light of animal research which shows CBD can be toxic to unborn babies.
The CBD market has boomed in the past couple of years. But the FSA said there is still no human studies looking into the health effects of High Street products.
As a precaution, they’ve urged all vulnerable people, including those on medication, to steer clear of the trend.
For other adults, they recommends no more than 70mg a day – about 28 drops of five per cent CBD – the first time such advice has been given.
CBD, formally cannabidiol, is a compound of the marijuana plant, and has been infused into oils, candles, drinks, bakery products, makeup and skincare.
Products don’t contain THC – the element of cannabis which makes you ‘high’.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women have been warned to avoid CBD products by ‘concerned’ regulators. CBD, formally cannabidiol, is a compound of the marijuana plant
The FSA, part of the UK government, said their warnings to vulnerable people follows research by the government’s Committee on Toxicity (COT).
Professor Alan Boobis, chair of the COT, said: ‘My committee has reviewed the evidence on CBD food products and found evidence there are potential adverse health effects from the consumption of these products.
‘We are particularly concerned about pregnant or breast-feeding women and people on medication.
‘We don’t know enough to be sure about such a risk but I am pleased with the sensible and pragmatic approach the FSA is taking.’
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THC AND CBD
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are both derived from the cannabis plant.
Together, they are part of the cannabinoid group of compounds found in hashish, hash oil, and most strains of marijuana.
THC is the psychoactive compound responsible for the euphoric, ‘high’ feeling often associated with marijuana.
THC interacts with CB1 receptors in the central nervous system and brain and creates the sensations of euphoria and anxiety.
CBD does not fit these receptors well, and actually decreases the effects of THC, and is not psychoactive.
CBD is thought to help reduce anxiety and inflammation.
In a meeting in January 2020, COT stated that research on several pregnant animals suggests harm to unborn babies if the mother is given CBD at ‘clinically relevant doses’.
As no human data exists, ‘FDA has advised caution’.
For those breastfeeding, studies have shown toxic harm in lactating rabbits and rats when the mother was given CBD.
The discussion report said: ‘Given that CBD is highly protein bound and will likely pass freely from plasma into milk, as a precaution, breastfeeding should be discontinued during treatment.
‘In general, dose selection for an older patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range.’
CBD has been touted as a remedy for anxiety, chronic pain, inflammation, sleep deprivation, and weight loss. But there is limited research on efficacy – it’s mainly anecdotal.
Despite an explosion of CBD products, very little advice has been by health officials on how much is ‘safe’.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says: ‘To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.’
The FSA, who can only comment on food and drinks products in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, has made its first consumption recommendations to be on the safe side.
Emily Miles, chief executive of the FSA, said: ‘Today, we are suggesting an upper limit of 70mg a day for everyone else [aside for vulnerable people] taking the product.’
‘CBD products are widely available on the high street but are not properly authorised. The CBD industry must provide more information about the safety and contents of these products.’
Businesses cashing in on the CBD hype have been given until March 31 2021 to submit applications for an EU Novel Food Status to sell CBD.
The move will ensure novel CBD foods meet ‘legal and safety standards’. Otherwise, businesses must take their products off the market.
Manufacturers have come under fire for making wild claims, such as that CBD can cure cancer.
However, there is strong scientific evidence for its ability to help treat some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications.
Some cannabis-based medications are available on prescription only. One example is Epidyolex, which contains a purified form of cannabidiol at concentrations much higher than you would get on the High Street
WHAT IS CBD OIL AND IS IT LEGAL IN THE UK?
Government advisers made it legal to buy CBD supplements in 2016
CBD oil is a legal cannabinoid that can be sold in the UK.
CBD contains less than 0.2 per cent of the psychoactive substance THC.
Although the oil has been thought to have some medicinal properties, including relieving inflammation, pain and anxiety, there is no conclusive science.
Suppliers in England and Wales have to obtain a licence to sell CBD as a medicine.
Manufacturers are able to avoid the strict regulation by selling it as a food supplement – ignoring the lengthy process of gaining a medicinal licence.
CBD products comes in many forms, the most popular being an oil – which users spray under their tongue – or gel tablets which melt slowly in the mouth.
Government advisers at the MHRA found that CBD has a ‘restoring, correcting or modifying’ effect on humans.
Cannabis oil, which is different to CBD oil because it contains THC – the compound that gives users a ‘high’ – is illegal under UK laws.
Billy Caldwell, from Castlederg, Northern Ireland, made headlines last April when he became the first Briton to be prescribed it on the NHS.
Cannabis oil, which reportedly has no side effects, influences the release and uptake of ‘feel good’ chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.