The hospitalization of a child has raised questions about the safety of CBD oil. Is your CBD oil-contaminated?

A breaking story on June 2019 first published by Philip Ghezelbash at RXLEAF discussed how some recent report has called into question the safety of CBD.

“An eight-year-old boy from Washington state was recently hospitalized and his case was published in the medical journal, Clinical Toxicology. Like many other parents of children with severe seizures, his mother and father were desperate to find a way to control his condition. After giving him CBD his parents noticed a decrease in frequency over a nine to ten-day period. Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, the boy had 14 seizures in 24 hours. This frequency was much higher than usual and was, of course, troubling,”

The side effects, in this case, were very apparent in the young child!

“During this time, the boy’s parents reported dilated pupils, agitation, and a variety of other abnormal symptoms in their son. Fortunately, he eventually returned to normal. However, the question remained: why did this happen? And more importantly, why did the CBD oil work at first, and then cause sudden adverse effects? Was it the CBD oil that caused these side effects, or something else?”

Side Effects of Low- Quality CBD Oil in the Young Child Included the Following:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Agitation
  • Increase in seizures within 24-hours

“The concentration of cannabinoids depends on the cannabis used during the extraction process. Both full spectrum extract (oil containing other cannabinoids and terpenes) and CBD isolates are available. Your condition and needs will dictate which version you purchase,”
adds RXLEAF.

Cannabidiol (CBD) extract is quickly gaining popularity as a natural alternative for managing pain, inflammation, and a variety of medical conditions, including epilepsy. However, recent reports have called into question the safety of CBD. Stories like this have surfaced regarding the compromised quality of some CBD oils.

Finding out whether your CBD oil is safe for either yourself or your pet should be a simple process. Today, with the unsanctioned medical use of CBD- based products containing a variety of oils, supplements, gums, and some with a very high concentration of extracts, we should all become familiar with what the safety norms are, and what to look out for when purchasing a safe, high-quality CBD oil free of contaminants that may be hazardous to our health.

Today, with all our latest research and reviews, you’ll become familiar with CBD dosing and safety standards, about the purity and consistency of CBD oil, and most importantly, about any safety precautions you or your pet should take when consuming CBD oil.

Firstly, here’s what Harvard had to say about CBD Oil Safety.

“Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD is currently being mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting. If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor — if for no other reason than to make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking,” adds Dr. Grinspoon, MD, Harvard Health Publishing.1.

Before going into depth as to whether there any potential side effects when consuming CBD oil, let’s briefly discuss CBD oil’s health benefits. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “CBD oil may have the potential to kill certain cancer cells, and stop tumor growth in blood vessels. It also may help with chemotherapy side effects in both human and pet. Hemp contains other natural compounds like terpenes and flavonoids. That said, limonene, which is a terpene, has been found to have anti-cancer properties. CBD can be converted to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) under experimental conditions; however, this does not appear to occur to any significant effect in patients undergoing CBD treatment.” 2.

The World Health Organization goes on to explain that CBD in humans has no potential for abuse or dependence. That said, CBD has shown large scale benefits for numerous health conditions in people and pets.

What is CBD Oil?

“Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. It is a 21-carbon terpenophenolic compound which is formed following decarboxylation from a cannabidiolic acid precursor, although it can also be produced synthetically,”
via WHO.

CBD does not cause a “high” and is a compound of hemp and cannabis. CBD is derived from the hemp plant, yet it can also come from the marijuana plant. CBD hardly ever contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the compound that gives marijuana its “high” effect. High-quality CBD is non-toxic and considered safe for pets and humans alike.

There are almost no side-effects, apart from those coming from a low-quality CBD oil that may contain contaminants. It’s always best to look out for the compromised quality of some CBD oils.

Benefits of CBD Oil

A recent 2019 study by the University of Korea, demonstrates that the CBD anti-cancer protein shows potential in killing tumor cells. The researchers tested the synergistic effect of CBD with cancer-destroying protein called TRAIL. (TNF related apoptosis-inducing ligand.)

The study concluded that TRAIL and CBD created apoptosis separately in colorectal cancer cells. The researchers also found that, together, both reduced cancer cells a lot.

“To the best of our knowledge,” they wrote, “this is the first report that cannabidiol induces significant TRAIL-induced apoptosis of colorectal cancer cells,” noting that earlier reports suggested that a different protein response was responsible for cancer-cell death.”
via MDPI Journals.    

“The recent increase in the number of CBD products may be because of both recent changes in state law, and because the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp — defined as cannabis and cannabis derivatives with very low concentrations (no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis) of THC — from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. However, CBD products are still subject to the same laws and requirements as FDA-regulated products that contain any other substances.” via FDA. The FDA is working on learning more about the safety of CBD and CBD products. More specifically: The safety of CBD use in animals (e.g., species, breed, or class) including pets.

The FDA has also tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products, and many were not found to contain the levels of CBD they claimed to have. We have also heard reports of CBD potentially containing contaminants (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals); we are looking into this. Some cannabis products are also being marketed as pet food and health products for animals. The FDA has not approved cannabis for any use in animals and recommends pet owners talk with their veterinarians about appropriate treatment options for their pets.” via FDA 2019.

Because not enough research has been done on the long-term use of CBD in people and pets, it’s important to look at and examine all the safety reviews and reviews on Amazon and other websites before purchasing CBD oil.

That said, because CBD has numerous therapeutic benefits, keep in mind that NOT ALL CBD OILS ARE OF THE SAME QUALITY. Some CBD oils may not have been derived from regulated sources. That means that it could contain harmful substances or contaminants that may harm you or your pet. For example, there are a number of different things you should to choose the best CBD oil for your dogs. It is only with time and more research that the long-term benefits and potential safety issues will come to the surface.

Blood Pressure and CBD Oil

High doses of CBD oil may potentially drop blood pressure resulting in lightheadedness and possibly dizziness. It’s always best to consult with your doctor for the best advice prior to purchasing a CBD product. That said, the positive side of CBD oil use is that it may be good for patients with high blood pressure. CBD, together with regular exercise and a healthy diet, helps to regulate hypertension.

A 2017 study by Dr. K Jadoon on CBD and its effects on blood pressure demonstrated the following:

“CBD reduced resting systolic BP (-6 mmHg; P<0.05) and stroke volume (-8 ml; P<0.05), with increased heart rate (HR) and maintained cardiac output. Subjects who had taken CBD had lower BP (-5 mmHg; P<0.05, especially before and after stress), increased HR (+10 bpm; P<0.01), decreased stroke volume (-13 ml; P<0.01), and a blunted forearm skin blood flow response to isometric exercise. In response to cold stress, subjects who had taken CBD had blunted BP (-6 mmHg; P<0.01) and increased HR (+7 bpm; P<0.05), with lower total peripheral resistance,”
via PubMed.

The study concludes that “acute administration of CBD reduces resting BP and the BP increase to stress in humans, associated with increased HR. These hemodynamic changes should be considered for people taking CBD. Further research is required to establish whether CBD has a role in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders.”

Contaminants in CBD Oil May Include:

  • Heavy metals
  • Pesticides
  • Molds


According to a clinical study published by the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists “Synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) are psychoactive substances that are gaining popularity for their availability and lack of detection by standardized drug tests. Although some users may perceive SCs as safer alternatives to marijuana, some SCs are more potent and result in more severe toxicities.”

The study explains that “Synthetic cannabinoids may be perceived as a safer alternative to marijuana; however, SCs can be more potent at the cannabinoid receptors and in turn have greater toxicities. Limited information is available on the metabolism of SCs; however, cytochrome P450 pathways may be involved, which could result in drug interactions and unpredicted adverse effects. Toxicity with SC use is not just related to its effects, but also to additives that may taint these products and enhance their effects. Health care providers should be aware of the range of toxicities related to SC use, and tainted products such as these agents are not detected on routine drug screens.” 4

Synthetic Cannabinoids (SC), according to research, may result in the following health conditions:

  • Fatal Coronary artery thrombosis
  • Arrhythmias
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Seizures
  • Acute tubular necrosis
  • Intracranial hemorrhage
  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Agitation

There have also been some deaths due to synthetic cannabinoids being tainted with brodifacoum. SC’s contribute to the largest groups of psychoactive substances and came about in 1965 when they were used for experimentation purposes. Studies demonstrate and note the importance that CBD consumers understand that “SCs are not a part of standardized drug tests,” via College of Psychiatric and Neurological Pharmacists.

“It is important to note SCs are not a part of standard drug tests. However, data from US poison control centers indicate calls regarding SC exposures more than doubled from 2906 calls in 2010 to 6959 in 2011.

Serious adverse health events linked to the ingestion of SCs have been reported. Reported SC toxicities include but are not limited to agitation, anxiety, drowsiness, tachycardia, hypertension, nausea, and vomiting as well as other serious adverse clinical effects, such as psychosis, stroke, seizures, and cardiac complications. Additionally, between March and April of 2018, there was an outbreak of severe bleeding events in patients who had ingested SC products tainted with brodifacoum (a rodenticide) with a majority of cases occurring in Illinois. Synthetic cannabinoid products have an unpredictable nature due to unregulated manufacturing processes and variability of ingredients. Considering the diverse toxicity profile of these compounds, it is important to identify the scope and severity of the public health threat posed by SC use as described in the literature, including recent bleeding events with tainted SC products. To our knowledge, this is the first published review of SC toxicities to include recent coagulopathies associated with tainted SC use.”

That said, CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. “Reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications,” adds WHO.

According to a 2018 CBD oil study published by Karger,” the cannabinoid CBD, a non-psychoactive isomer of the more infamous tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is available in a growing number of administration modes, but the most commonly known is CBD oil. There are currently dozens, if not hundreds, of producers and sellers of CBD oils active in the market, and their number is increasing rapidly. Those involved vary from individuals who prepare oils on a small scale for family and (Facebook) friends to compounding pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, and licensed cannabis producers.”

The biggest dangers are the growing availability of CBD oil products. Because the most common form is the administration of a CBD oil for medical conditions, consumers need to understand what they are purchasing so as to avoid contaminants and possible side effects.

A high-quality CBD oil should have no side effects and no risk of “getting high” so consumers can take a larger dose to help with medical issues. Higher doses pose the possibility of higher doses of contaminants, thus the need to purchase only the highest-quality CBD Oil. This is not a product that you want to save money on.

Cannabis oil has no smell and can be used in all settings like the office or at home. Dosing is simple, with a few drops required. This preferred method of CBD oil ingestion has further developed this already popular market into a billion-dollar industry with CBD products like gum, oral capsules, tinctures, liposomal products, CBD products for pets (like treats) and skin creams. Apart from these other products, the rise in the popularity of vaping has meant that there are specific products in the market for those looking for the best cbd vape oils.

The Karger study also discusses the long-term use of a high-dose CBD oil and how the effects on children’s brains have not been researched. “The fact that the maximum CBD content in an oil is limited by the THC present in the herbal material used makes it attractive to add an additional amount of purified CBD to boost the percentage advertised on the label. Unfortunately, the Novel Food Catalogue of the EU states that “extracts of Cannabis sativa L. in which CBD levels are higher than the CBD levels in the plant source are novel in food” This means that enriching a natural hemp extract with pure (often synthetic) CBD makes it a Novel Food product, with the consequence that it must undergo significant safety assessment prior to being marketed.

However, it is still unclear in many EU countries if extracts with no added CBD also fall under this regime.” That said, the study suggests that it may be difficult to set up a legal pipeline for the production and sale of CBD oil because some countries allow for different activities regarding the cultivation, processing, and extraction of hemp.

There are also numerous entrepreneurs that have set up shop across multiple countries, with hemp cultivation taking place in one country, hemp extraction in another country, lab testing in a third country, and finally with sales in multiple other countries. This makes it harder to control the quality of a CBD product because consumers have to question where the product actually originated from, and who is responsible for the final product quality. Quality control measures also come into play in a big way.

The final take is that all CBD oil consumers worldwide need to do the following when purchasing a CBD product:

  • Examine the analytical testing of the final CBD products by certified third-party labs. This is so important to guarantee the safety and composition of CBD oils.

That said, CBD consumers may still have another problem!

Cannabinoid Analysis Issues

There are numerous methods for the analysis of cannabinoids, yet there is still no standard agreed upon an analytic method that is used to test accuracy and suitability. That said, here are the problems today that cannabinoid analysis faces:

  • No general accepted guidelines or certifications to see how reliable these CBD labs are.
  • Cannabinoid analysis can be different between labs.
  • This is true for exact samples that have been tested several times.
  • Business to business issues with CBD quality or the value of the intermediary CBD product.
  • Trust issues with consumers not understanding what’s on a CBD product label.
  • Inaccurate CBD levels may have a higher CBD level than stated on the product.

Another interesting study in the Netherlands on Dutch CBD oil demonstrates this!

“In this study, 46 different cannabis oil samples were collected directly from patients and analyzed for cannabinoid content. The obtained samples were home-made (n = 29) or purchased from a (web) store (n = 17). For 21 of the 46 products (46% of all samples), label information was available on CBD/THC content, so that the claimed content could be compared to the analyzed content as determined in the study. Results are shown in Table 1. In many cases, the analyzed cannabinoid content strongly differed from the claimed content on the label, while in 7 samples no cannabinoids (CBD or THC) were found at all. Such deviations were found in home-made as well as commercially obtained products,” via Karger.

Analysis of Dutch cannabis oil samples obtained from actual patients, comparing the claimed cannabinoid content on the product label with lab results measured in the study

Chart Credit: Karger

To sum it up, these studies concluded that it’s not clear whether some CBD consumers are aware that they’re buying a CBD product that may yield a higher THC content, thus having psychoactive properties. The effects of a too high THC content resulted in intoxication, panic attacks and disorientation. For more on this study, visit Karger.

Best Advice on How to Choose a CBD Oil

Before purchasing a product, consumers would be wise to take into account the following factors to choose the best CBD oil for their needs:

  1. CBD consumers should ask for proper and accurate labelling and dosage instructions.
  2. CBD consumers should examine each CBD product and reflect on what each CBD product does and does not contain.
  3. Examine where and how it was manufactured.
  4. Analyze the potential therapeutic effects
  5. Analyze the risks with the product by understanding the exact composition. Just because others are purchasing it, does not mean it’s right for you!
  6. What out for misleading labels.
  7. Look out for harmful contaminants which may be potentially deadly.
  8. Research the third-party labs associated with your CBD product.
  9. Ensure that CBD products are used responsibly by both pet parents and people.

That said, although evidence does support that there are minimal or no side effects from a high-quality CBD product, consumers need to consult with their physicians prior to purchasing CBD products. This will ensure that they purchase the highest quality CBD products that are effective for their specific health requirements.

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