Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound that has been studied since the 1940’s and has recently found its way onto the food supplements market. It is a ‘cannabinoid’ and is so named because it was found in the cannabis plant – however, unlike the other main cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, known as THC, CBD does not produce a psychoactive effect.
In the course of studying these compounds, CBD has shown beneficial effects in humans and even led to the discovery of an internal system of neurotransmitters that cannabinoids act on – this ‘endocannabinoid system’ may explain why CBD produces the positive effects often seen in humans.
The difference between CBD and THC
Cannabis itself has been investigated in the medical field to try and establish what exactly causes the beneficial effects seen in studies over the years. In terms of science, this means isolating the chemicals inside cannabis and testing them individually for their benefits, with a particular view to isolating the beneficial effects of cannabis from the intoxicating effect of THC
CBD acts on CB2 receptors, which are found all over the body, to produce the effects now associated with CBD, such as reduced inflammation. In contrast, THC acts on CB1 receptors that are found in the brain, producing the ‘high’ associated with cannabis use.
As THC produces an intoxicating effect, it is a controlled substance here in the UK. It can be found in small amounts in Full Spectrum CBD products but is limited to no more than 1mg per container to prevent intoxication. Products found to contain more than this are removed from sale.
Potential Benefits of CBD
By interacting with the endocannabinoid system, CBD has been shown to have beneficial effects for a wide range of ailments. From CBD’s ability to reduce inflammation
, to aiding in sleep, it appears to stimulate and regulate natural processes in the body. CBD has been shown to have beneficial effects for some sufferers of:
With the potential to aid in a multitude of ways across a large number of different illnesses, CBD has become a heavily studied chemical compound – but there is much more still to learn!
Probably the largest impact CBD has had so far is in the instances of a rare form of childhood epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Studies have found that treatment with CBD has, in many cases, significantly reduced the frequency of seizures. The medication called ‘Epidiolex’ is the only CBD-based medicine to-date and is used for this purpose. It is worth noting that the starting dose for Epidiolex is 2.5mg per kilogram of bodyweight per day – working out to be much higher than the new provisional acceptable daily intake.
What Is ‘Acceptable Daily Intake’?
The acceptable daily intake, or ADI, is the maximum amount of a chemical that can be ingested daily
over a lifetime with no significant health risk. This means it is an estimate of the highest daily dose that can be taken that doesn’t give rise to observable adverse effects, as so far studied and understood.
The ADI is represented as a weight per kilogram of bodyweight per day. The old provisional ADI for CBD was set at 70mg per day for a 70kg person, or 1mg per day per kilogram. A review of recent studies has led to a revision of this figure.
The New Acceptable Daily Intake for CBD
As scientific evidence for CBD mounts, new information is assessed and included in any updated recommendations. A new paper from the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) & Committee on Toxicity (COT) puts forward a new ADI for CBD based on more recent evidence.
This estimation is based on average lifetime exposure to food products containing CBD – so CBD drinks, CBD oils, CBD sweets
, CBD baked items and CBD oral drops
. This ADI therefore doesn’t include topically administered CBD in creams or balms and doesn’t cover CBD ingested through vaping.
The provisional ADI was set at 1mg per kilo of bodyweight per day but this has now changed to 0.15mg per kilo per day. This works out to be a reduction from 70mg per day for a 70 kilogram person down to 10mg per day, based on 98% pure CBD.
So why, exactly, has the recommendation changed? There is some evidence that higher CBD intake is associated with increase in adverse effects, with concerns that accumulation in the liver could potentially cause damage.
It is important to note that the aforementioned paper highlights data gaps and resulting areas of uncertainty for pure form CBD. These uncertainties relate to severity of adverse effects in the liver, the bioavailability (or how much the body actually absorbs) of pure form CBD, effects of chronic lifetime use, vulnerable groups, CBD drug interactions and reproductive toxicity and immunotoxicity.
These data gaps are a concern and is why the provisional acceptable daily intake has changed. The paper indicates that studies were ‘sub-chronic in design’ and relatively short-term, so data on accumulation of CBD in the body over a long period of time is lacking. It is this lack of data, as opposed to any confirmation from studies, that has prompted this change in the provisional ADI.
It is worth noting that not everyone agrees the new ADI is set at an appropriate level: Dr Mark Tallon of Legal Foods Ltd. indicates this decision was made in March 2023 so fails to include newer studies, one conducted by himself and another conducted by Rayetta Henderson that address some of the concerns highlighted by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
What affects how long CBD stays in the body?
This precautionary ADI should therefore be a really safe guideline for new CBD users to follow. For those taking more than the recommended amount, it is worth knowing how long it takes for your body to clear CBD out - this is measured in something called ‘half-life’; this is how long it takes the body to eliminate half of the substance in the body. The body normally eliminates a given drug in four to five half-lives.
For CBD, this can vary depending on the form in which it is taken, with a wide window of between 1 hour and 5 days (depending on who you ask). CBD absorption can even be impacted by the food ingested around the CBD dose – for example, consuming a high-fat meal typically leads to higher levels of CBD in the bloodstream, increasing the amount of time it takes to clear from the body.
A 2018 review found that inhaling CBD causes CBD to enter the bloodstream faster but also leave the body quicker! As the exchange in the lungs is much faster than ingested CBD, which has to be absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, it can be a great way to get a quick delivery of CBD into the body.
Some medications may even impact how long CBD stays in the body – CBD is metabolised by the liver so people who take medications or have a liver condition may clear CBD from the body at a different rate, and the presence of CBD may impact the effectiveness of the dose of the prescribed medication.
What should I do if I am concerned about accumulating CBD in the body?
CBD is fat soluble and can accumulate in the body over time in fatty tissue. This means that CBD could stick around in the body for a while and things like your diet, the CBD form, how often you take it, and other factors like exercise will all impact how long CBD stays in your body.
If you are concerned about the accumulation of CBD in your body, these are things to be aware of:
- The information on how long CBD stays in the body is varied, but one National Institute of Health study indicated the plasma half-life of CBD is 18 to 32 hours – so this is how long it takes half the CBD to clear from the blood plasma. It also found that CBD is excreted in mainly faeces, as opposed to urine and sweat.
- Other information indicates the half life of between 2 and 5 days for CBD when consumed orally.
- Factors that have an impact on the speed that CBD leaves the body include weight, metabolism, whether it is consumed with food, the potency of the CBD product, the dosage and the frequency of CBD consumption.
If you want to clear CBD from your system faster, you can:
- Stop taking CBD for two to three weeks to ensure a complete clear-out
- Drink more water to encourage urination
Exercise speeds up the metabolism which will increase the speed with which CBD is processed, as well as encourage sweating which may also help rid the body of CBD faster.
- Eat plenty of fibrous food to encourage bowel movements
The New Provisional Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for CBD Conclusion
With any new product it is always wise to use with caution, particularly as CBD can interact with things like medication which could interfere with treatment for potentially serious conditions which we really don’t want to mess with!
Many CBD advocates do believe that this new ADI is on the conservative side of estimates for safe consumption, which may be supported by customers who have been using CBD products to help treat things like aches and pains and may have increased their CBD dose over time to find an effective dose for themselves.
If you are concerned about prolonged CBD use, taking a few weeks off to allow your body to clear the CBD, which may take the pressure off the liver, is a viable solution to help prevent potential adverse effects of chronic CBD use. This could mean a couple weeks of white-knuckling through the symptoms for which you would normally use CBD to treat, but should mean you are fully cleared out by the end and should be good to start up with your CBD regimen once again!
Also, keep in mind that this Acceptable Daily Intake is subject to change as more information becomes available, in particular more long term studies that would confirm either the level of danger or safety for a wide variety of dosage amounts for CBD.
If you are looking to try CBD to help improve your quality of life, be sure to take advantage of our limited-time offer of a FREE* pack of CBD Gummies
when you buy SMOKO CBD Tinctures or SMOKO CBD Gummies! (See below)
*1 per customer. New customers only.