The soaring popularity of CBD cannot be denied.
In 2018, the Farm Bill Act legalized hemp-derived CBD production with THC levels no more than 0.3 percent, and the market simply took off. According to Fortune Business Insights, the cannabis market inside North America alone was US$10.18 billion. That number is projected to grow exponentially and reach nearly US$100 billion by the end of 2026. The New York Times reported that the US market for CBD is expected to reach $16 billion by 2025.
Despite its popularity, consumers do have legitimate concerns about CBD’s safety profile. Many of these concerns seem to stem from the fact that CBD is often related to and put in the same category as marijuana. However, CBD, or cannabidiol, is only one of the naturally occurring chemical compounds called cannabinoids found in the hemp flower and the cannabis plants. CBD products do not necessarily contain THC, the psychoactive compound that is responsible for creating the “high” commonly associated with marijuana.
In 2018, the World Health Organization released a critical review report on CBD that was distributed to the participants of the 40th Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. We’ve compiled and summarized what was delineated in the report about CBD’s safety profile in this piece.
CBD vs. THC
According to the report, CBD has shown markedly different effects from those of THC across a range of measures in humans and animals. It notes that in a study conducted on mice, CBD failed to produce the behavioral characteristics that are caused by THC. Some of these characteristics included hypothermia, suppression of locomotor activity, and antinociception.
In studies that used neuroimaging on both humans and animals, the effects of CBD were the opposite to the effects of THC. Unlike THC, under normal conditions, CBD did not affect blood pressure or heart rate. In animal models of stress, CBD reduced blood pressure and heart rate.
The report goes on to note that some studies have demonstrated that CBD may reduce or even antagonize some of theeffects of THC. While the exact mechanism for that is yet unclear, it may be due to how it reacts to the endocannabinoid systems CB1 antagonist.
The World Health Organization recognizes CBD as generally safe and effective
Is it Possible to Overdose on CBD?
The report notes that when CBD was tested in experimental models of abuse liability, i.e., if it is a substance that is liable to be abused, it had “little effect on conditioned place preference or intracranial self-stimulation.” Conditioned place preference refers to the motivational effects of objects or experiences. Intracranial self-stimulation refers to self-administering rewarding stimulation.
When tested in an animal drug discrimination model, CBD failed to substitute for THC. WHO concluded that CBD does not demonstrate any effects indicative of any potential for abuse or dependence.
According to the report, CBD does not produce the effects that are typically seen with cannabinoids such as THC. It also failed to produce significant effects in a human study of abuse potential. Across many open-label and controlled trials on the potential therapeutic effects of CBD, it is generally well-tolerated.
Understanding the Health Benefits of CBD
The WHO report notes that CBD has definitively demonstrated its effectiveness in helping treat epilepsy in many clinical trials. The US Food Drug and Food Administration approved a pure CBD oral solution called Epidiolex in 2018. It had completed extensive Phase III trials before being approved.
The report also notes that preliminary evidence for CBD as a usefultreatment for a number of other medical conditions also exists.
With regard to the safety of using CBD, the report says, “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. Reported adverse effects may be asa result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications. Several countries have modified their national controls to accommodate CBD as a medicinal product.
To date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
Some of the side effects associated with CBD use include irritability, fatigue, and nausea.
How Safe is CBD?
The World Health Organization has outlined several clinical trials that tested the effects, safety, and possible benefits of CBD, and concluded that it is generally well-tolerated and has a good safety profile.
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