Study: CBD does not cause liver damage

Source: fooddive.com

Dive Brief:

  • CBD products do not cause liver damage when taken orally, according to a new study from Validcare. The seven-month analysis evaluated the impact of CBD on liver health through clinical trials involving 839 participants. 
  • The study was conducted at the FDA’s request to inform the federal agency’s developing regulatory approach to CBD products. Twelve CBD industry companies helped fund the study, provided certificates of authenticity and recruited survey participants.
  • Stakeholders ranging from policymakers to food manufacturers have been eager for the FDA to clarify its stance on CBD, which is currently not regulated for use in products.

Dive Insight:

Despite CBD’s popularity and increasing ubiquitousness, questions still linger regarding the safety and long-term impact of using the hemp and cannabis-derived substance.

Since hemp is now legal and CBD is becoming more mainstream, the FDA has come under pressure to clarify its stance on the ingredient so manufacturers eager to capitalize on the growing demand can develop products that can be sold. 

A summer 2019 study involving mice suggested that there may be a link between CBD and liver damage. Critics pushed for a human study, like Validcare’s, saying there are differences between how CBD functions in mice versus humans, and most people would not ingest the level of CBD provided to rodents in the study.

The results of the study are likely good news for players in the CBD industry who may have been fearing heavy restrictions, should the results have raised red flags.

There are still plenty of other health-related questions about CBD to tackle. These stem from the relative newness of the ingredient and the lack of long-term research on side effects or how it may interact with medications. As a result, the FDA has cracked down on CBD-containing products making health claims or statements about what the ingredient can accomplish. 

Consumers are showing increasing eagerness to add CBD to their daily regimens, with 40% saying in March 2019 that they would try CBD, according to a study by High Yield Insights. The ingredient got a boost during the COVID-19 pandemic, as consumers sought ways to relax, ease tension and improve sleep quality. 

The lack of FDA regulations around CBD has not stopped companies from planning and creating products. These include completely new offerings and reimagined versions of existing ones. Unilever-owned ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s was the first to hint at the possibility of adding CBD to some products after hemp cultivation was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill. Soon after, Mondelez’s CEO announced that the company is exploring CBD snacksSmoothie maker Bolthouse Farms has also expressed interest in developing a CBD-infused line of its drinks, but progress has been slow due to regulatory ambiguities, said the company’s vice president of marketing.

Drink makers seem to be leading the charge when it comes to getting CBD products on store shelves. Ocean Spray’s Lighthouse incubator launched a line of sparkling CBD water called CarryOn, while Constellation Brands’ Canopy Growth launched its own bubbly CBD beverage, Quatreau. Truss CBD USA, a partnership between Molson Coors Beverage Company and Canadian cannabis grower Hexo, has also debuted a sparkling CBD drink called Veryvell in the U.S.

With the number of states legalizing cannabis increasing and a new administration that appears more favorable toward the substance, momentum around CBD is gaining speed. Manufacturers have little reason to stop making CBD products to satiate growing consumer demand, but the FDA has a critical role to play in determining how many of them will come to market. 

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