CBD has a reputation for being safe, which is why so many people are starting to take it. As of 2017, 250,000 people were using CBD oil to maintain their health. The Cannabis Trades Association UK (CTAUK) have suggested that that figure is up from 125,000 in 2016, meaning that approximately 1,000 new users flock to CBD each month. Are these figures cause for concern?
Furthermore, CBD is gaining publicity here in the UK, with advertisements in shop windows and even news segments on cooking with CBD oil played on the radio. With this very sudden rise in attention, many people are wondering whether CBD is dangerous in any way. In this article, we aim to answer the question of whether CBD oil is dangerous.
First of All: What is Toxicity?
In order to understand whether CBD is actually safe or not, you need to know a little about toxicology. By definition, toxicology refers to a branch of science concerned with the nature, effects, and detection of poisons.
When assessing drugs, pharmaceutical or otherwise, a toxicology report must be established to determine whether it is safe and in what quantities. The government does not actually regulate CBD oils, so these reports don’t really exist for these products.
However, reputable CBD sellers will publish third-party lab testing results on their websites.
Third-Party Lab Reports
Lab reports for CBD oils will often detail whether the oil contains fertilisers, pesticides, or heavy metals. It is surprisingly common for oils to contain small amounts of things like lead, but it is usually in negligible quantities.
The lab report will detail how much of each compound is within the oil, and a quick google of the substance can tell you how much is considered an ‘acceptable limit.’ Usually, the trace amounts of chemicals that sneak their way into CBD oils are well below the acceptable limit, meaning that they are safe for consumption.
A CBD oil is, therefore, safe as long as you can determine these chemicals in third party lab reports. Don’t buy from a company that can’t provide lab reports, as that could actually be dangerous.
What the WHO Has to Say
While toxicology reports don’t exist for specific CBD oils, the World Health Organisation did actually publish a report on cannabidiol based on the thirty-ninth meeting of the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence.
Section 5 of this report, published in November of 2017, is all about the toxicology of CBD. The WHO extensively reviewed the toxic potential of CBD and found that it has a relatively low toxicity. They do note that not all avenues have been explored, and more data will have to be collected, but studies so far deem it safe.
In animal and in vitro studies, the WHO found that:
- CBD has no effect on embryonic development (with limited research)
- It has no effect on a wide range of physiological and biochemical parameters, and has no significant effects on animal behaviour except at an extremely high dose (in excess of 30 mg/kg every day for 90 days in monkeys).
In the report, they also note that CBD failed to show a potential for abuse or dependence, and that it is generally well-tolerated in humans with a “good safety profile.”
In short, CBD is generally non-toxic as a substance.
How Much CBD Would it Take to Kill You?
An established toxicity level is known as an LD50, with LD standing for ‘lethal dose.’ Taken in huge quantities, pretty much anything can kill you – water is lethal if you drink enough in a short period of time.
There is a rumour in the cannabis community that marijuana cannot kill you. Marijuana is still illegal, though, so this article is focusing on CBD, but it is worth noting here whether cannabis as a whole is lethal. A 2016 report for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in America investigated the LD50 for cannabis. The research organisation Americans for Safe Access (ASA) claimed that there is no known LD50 for any form of cannabis in humans.
In fact, current ASA estimations suggest that a human would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times the amount of cannabis contained in a typical marijuana cigarette (defined as 0.9g) in order to experience fatal consequences. For reference, this means consuming 1,500 lbs of cannabis within a 15-minute period to induce a “theoretically lethal response.” In other words, whole plant cannabis can’t really kill you.
But what about CBD alone? The USA’s government has a compiled a Toxicology Data Network which lists the toxicity levels for CBD.
Three separate LD50s have been determined for CBD, spanning over a 70-year period:
- In 1946, the LD50 for CBD in dogs was determined to be in excess of 254mg per kg of body weight when administered intravenously.
- In 1975, an LD50 was established in mice at 50mg per kg of body weight, again when administered intravenously.
- In 1981, the LD50 for CBD was determined to be 212 mg per kg of body weight when administered intravenously in monkeys.
More recently, Current Drug Safety published an article in 2011 which looked at toxicity levels of CBD in rhesus monkeys when administered orally. It was determined that doses over 200 mg per kg of body weight were fatal in some monkeys, which experienced respiratory and cardiac arrest. 300 mg per kg of body weight resulted in “rapid death.”
For reference, a relatively average-sized human is 75kg. As a result, it would take around 18,750 mg of CBD consumed within a short time period to induce fatal effects. CBD is usually taken in quantities of no more than 100 mg at a time – and that’s spanning the course of one whole day.
So, Is CBD Safe?
To date, there has not been a concrete LD50 established for cannabis or CBD in humans. However, the animal studies so far suggest that it would be extremely high, and human studies conducted by the WHO suggest that CBD is safe, well-tolerated, and non-addictive.
Based on this, it is clear that CBD is not a dangerous substance, meaning that the enormous number of people taking CBD do not appear to be at risk as a result of consuming their supplements. If you were on the fence about CBD, we hope this might have changed your mind.