You may have noticed that cannabidiol (CBD) seems to be available almost everywhere, and marketed as a variety of products including drugs, food, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and animal health products. Other than one prescription drug product to treat seizures associated with Lennox Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome (DS), or tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) in people one year of age and older, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any other CBD products, and there is very limited available information about CBD, including about its effects on the body.
In addition to safety risks and unproven claims, the quality of many CBD products may also be in question. The FDA is also concerned that a lack of appropriate processing controls and practices can put consumers at additional risks. For example, the agency has tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products, and many were found to not contain the levels of CBD they claimed. We are also investigating reports of CBD potentially containing unsafe levels of contaminants (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals, THC).
Potential harm, side effects and unknowns
We are aware that there may be some products on the market that add CBD to a food or label CBD as a dietary supplement. Under federal law, it is illegal to market CBD this way.
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:
It really depends on what your goal is and why you're taking CBD in the first place.
The only CBD medication that is currently FDA-approved is Epidiolex, which the agency approved last year for the treatment of certain types of epilepsy. But many people swear CBD has helped with a slew of other health conditions, including back pain, osteoarthritis, even cancer.
What does the label look like?
But the challenge when considering CBD products for pets is the same as with people: lack of research. "I believe there are good products out there today, but I also don't know how to distinguish them at this time," Faught says.
There's no question that CBD is the buzzy wellness product of the moment. If you live in a state where it's currently legal, you might feel like CBD has gone from being sort of around to absolutely everywhere all at once. Coffee shops sell CBD lattes, spas offer CBD facials, beauty companies are rushing to release lotions with CBD or hemp oils in their formulas. And everyone from your anxious coworker to your arthritis-suffering dad wants to get their hands on some CBD gummies.
This is a confusing one for many people. "A lot of brands don't do a good job of clearly instructing their consumer on the dosing," says Chris Roth, CEO and co-founder of Highline Wellness. When thinking about dosing, also consider whether your CBD is full-spectrum or isolate: Full-spectrum could include other cannabinoids like cannabidivarin or cannabigerol (this is important, since "there's something called the 'entourage effect' when all together, they're more effective than any one of them alone," Roth explains), while isolate is 100% CBD. "Some people might only need 10 milligrams of full-spectrum CBD, but with isolate, even taking 80 or 100 milligrams might not have the same effect," he says.
There are several different kinds of CBD products out there, including gummies, chocolates, skincare products, and even pet treats, but CBD is not yet legal in every state. The legality of it is extremely murky, and while 33 states and Washington, D.C. have passed medical marijuana laws, and 14 states have enacted CBD-explicit medical laws, CBD is not yet legal everywhere. 4 In fact, three states in which marijuana is legal (New York, Maine, and Ohio) are now banning CBD edibles due to a lack of regulation regarding adding CBD to food products and the potential dangers for consumers. 5
Although there is a limited amount of research on CBD and its effects on humans, many experts suggest that CBD stays in your system for about three to four days before it is entirely cleared from your body, but the accuracy of this timeline is still disputed. One study found that the half-life of CBD is about two to five days. 9
What is CBD Used For?
CBD works by interacting with certain receptors in the brain and directing the body to use more of its own cannabinoids (these are already naturally produced by the human body). In a sense, the CBD tells the body how to perceive pain and inflammation, deal with anxiety, and better balance itself in general.
CBD is an abbreviation that stands for Cannabidiol, which is a chemical compound that is found in marijuana and hemp (a cousin of the marijuana plant). 2 It is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant and then diluting it with another type of oil, such as coconut oil or hemp seed oil. 3 Although CBD is found in both hemp and marijuana, the CBD extracted from hemp is most commonly used in CBD products because it contains less than 1 percent THC.
Although CBD is praised for its medicinal uses, researchers have found that the strongest scientific evidence of its effectiveness is in treating epilepsy in children. CBD has been found to reduce the number of seizures, and in some cases, even stop them completely. Studies also suggest it may be beneficial in reducing anxiety and insomnia, but according to Harvard Health Publishing, more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness in treating pain. 7