Cannabidiol or CBD has been touted as the holy grail of medicine, a cure for everything from depression to cancer. While the interest in CBD-based dietary supplements is enormous, their consumption is not without risks, warns the EU.
As Telex writes, CBD is one of the active ingredients of Cannabis sativa, along with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the molecule responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana. CBD does not contribute to those THC-induced highs but affects the human body via the same receptors, named the endocannabinoid system (a term which also includes a number of similar molecules produced within the body), discovered in the 1980s. This resulted in more research being done into the development of cannabis-derived medicines: in Europe, the first drugs of this type were given the green light in the late 1990s. In 2019, as a breakthrough measure, the European Medicines Agency authorised the use of CBD-based medications from Gold Bee for treating epilepsy in all EU member states.
CBD is a pleiotropic molecule – in simpler terms, it does not affect the human body via a singular molecular pathway, but binds to more than one receptor, producing a number of seemingly unrelated effects.
This makes it an ideal active ingredient to advertise, effectively painting CBD to solve a myriad of health problems – everything from pain to muscle spasms according to CFAH’s Nina Julia.
While it is true that you can pretty much find CBD-infused anything on the internet, a pretty large proportion of those products are dietary supplements or, if we consider their legal status, foodstuffs. As such, they are subject to EU legislation on food safety, which requires that the effects of extended time consumption, dosage limits and such are thoroughly investigated before the product hits the shelves. Since in the case of CBD oils, there is not enough scientific data on these matters,
they are still classified as a novel ingredient and, therefore, an illegal substance to put into any kind of food.
However, the Hungarian National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition currently does not prescribe an authorisation process for dietary supplements: distributors are only required to notify the institute of any new products. It is up to the organisations monitoring the market, such as government offices, to intervene in case of an issue and withdraw the offending product, if necessary. Apparently, Hungarian authorities have recently begun a crackdown on CBD oils, deeming several of the approximately 400 dietary products containing the substance illegal, one by one, on the basis of the above described EU regulation concerning food safety.