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FSA urges Pregnant and breastfeeding women to steer clear of CBD products after early animal research Shows toxicity to unborn babies

FSA urges Pregnant and breastfeeding women

CBD has been in the limelight for a year now. Whether it is celebrities boasting about its alleged benefits or government officials supporting it, CBD has become quite popular amongst consumers. 

Despite the medicinal claims of CBD, some regulators have warned pregnant and breastfeeding women to avoid CBD. Recently the Food Standards Agency (FSA) made these recommendations based on the research conducted on animals which shows that CBD might be toxic for unborn babies. 

While the market is filled with CBD products ranging from skincare to wellness to health, the FSA said there is no strong evidence that backs up the medical claims of CBD or looks into the health effects of High Street products. 

In light of this, the agency has urged all vulnerable people, including those who take medication, to steer clear of the CBD trend. For other adults, they recommend no more than about 70mg a day- nearly 28 drops of 5% CBD- it is the first time that such advice has been given. 

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound of the marijuana plant, and it has been widely used in creams, tinctures, oils, capsules, candles, isolate, vape pens, and many skincare and beauty products. 

Unlike THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound of marijuana that is responsible for causing the “high” or producing hallucinations in users when they smoke weed, CBD is a non-psychoactive substance and hence, does not give a euphoria like feeling. 

The FSA, part of the UK government, said their warnings targeted towards vulnerable people are followed by the government’s Committee on Toxicity (COT). Professor Alan Boobis, chair of the COT, said that his committee has reviewed the evidence on CBD food products and discovered that there are significant adverse health effects from the consumption of these products.

Boobis further added they are particularly concerned about pregnant or breast-feeding women and people who take medication. Though they are not sure about such a risk, they’re pleased with the pragmatic and sensible approach the FDA is taking. 

In January 2020, COT stated that research on several pregnant animals suggests that if the mother was given CBD at “clinically relevant doses”, it caused potential harm to unborn babies. Since there’s a lack of human data, the FDA has advised caution. 

For breastfeeding women, studies have revealed toxic harm in lactating rats and rabbits when the mother was given CBD. 

The report said that since CBD is highly protein-bound, it can easily pass from plasma into milk, hence, breastfeeding should be discontinued if the mother is taking CBD. Additionally, dose selection for an older patient should also be cautious and should start at the low end of the dosing range. 

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CBD is widely touted for its healing properties and the ability to improve overall wellness. Many people use CBD to reduce stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation, chronic pain, inflammation, and even weight loss. It is even known to alleviate the symptoms of life-threatening diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Tourette, and epilepsy. However, there’s limited research on CBD’s efficacy- it’s mainly anecdotal. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that there is no evidence of public health-related issues associated with the use of pure ‘CBD’. 

The FSA, who can only comment on drinks and food products in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales, has made its first consumption recommendations with precautionary measures for consumers to ensure their health safety.

Emily Miles, chief executive of the FSA said they are suggesting an upper limit of 70mg a day for everyone, except for vulnerable people, taking the product. There is an array of CBD products available at the high street, but they are not properly authorized and the CBD industry must provide more information about the contents and the safety of these products. 

Companies cashing in on the CBD hype have been given time until March 31, 2021, to submit applications for an EU Novel Food Status to sell CBD products. The move will ensure that CBD foods are met with safety and legal standards, otherwise, businesses will be prompted to take their products off the market. 

Is CBD Legal in the UK?

CBD oil is a legal compound that can be sold and purchased in the UK. It has less than 0.2% of THC, the psychoactive substance responsible for causing high in users when they smoke weed or marijuana. 

Suppliers in Wales and England have to obtain a license to sell CBD as a medicine. But, manufactures are able to avoid stringent regulations by selling CBD as a food supplement, therefore bypassing the lengthy process of obtaining a medical license. 

CBD products are available in many forms- oil, capsule, tincture, cream, ointment, isolate, vape pen, bath bombs, soaps, gummy bears, chocolates, dietary supplements, and pet products.

Ivan writes about Cannabis at The Cannabis Radar. He has a degree in Nutrition Sciences from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre. He likes to spend his spare time reading to his daughter or spending time with his wife.

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