Your Guide To CBD Vaping: Safety, Side Effects And More

While the prevalence of cigarette smoking has significantly decreased over the past two decades, the use of vaping has been steadily increasing. A 2020 scientific paper from the JAMA Network estimates that approximately 5.66 million adults in the United States engage in vaping[1]. Notably, the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that over 2.5 million high school and middle school students are involved in vaping[2].

While the risks of traditional cigarettes are well-documented, there is less awareness regarding the potential dangers of vaping, particularly when it involves cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is often promoted in the wellness community as a natural remedy for addressing symptoms of anxiety and depression, managing pain, and improving sleep. However, the positive aspects of CBD use can contribute to confusion regarding the health and safety implications of vaping this cannabinoid. In the following discussion, experts delve into the scientific aspects of how vaping CBD affects the body and provide insights into whether it is a practice to embrace or avoid.

Understanding CBD Oil: Unraveling Its Uses and Safety Concerns

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is among the various naturally occurring cannabinoids found in cannabis sativa and hemp plants. The extraction of this cannabinoid from the plant and its dissolution in carrier oils, such as sunflower, hemp, or olive oil, gives rise to what is commonly known as CBD oil. This versatile oil can be ingested orally, applied topically, added to foods, beverages, and other edibles, and even utilized in e-cigarettes.

CBD oil has been associated with a range of potential benefits, including support for mental health, improvement of sleep quality, pain relief, and reduction of inflammation. Its legality hinges on its source and adherence to specific state regulations. At the federal level, CBD derived from cannabis plants remains illegal. However, CBD derived from hemp plants containing less than 0.3% delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by dry weight is deemed legal.

The safety of vaping CBD comes under scrutiny when considering the additional elements involved. Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Rochester’s Department of Medicine and a leading researcher on cigarette smoke-mediated lung inflammation and CBD vaping, emphasizes that when vaping CBD, individuals are not only inhaling the CBD oil but also other chemicals for flavor and often nicotine. Both of these additives pose their own set of dangers.

Vijay Iyer, M.D., an interventional cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, firmly asserts that CBD vaping is unsafe. He points out that while CBD use by itself doesn’t seem to have a direct effect on heart function, vaping itself is detrimental. Dr. Iyer cautions against falling for gimmicks such as vaping vitamins, sometimes combined with CBD to attract health-conscious consumers.

The adverse effects of vaping, whether CBD or any other substance, primarily impact the lungs and heart, correlating with lung disease and heart disease, as explained by Dr. Iyer. Vaping irritates the inner lining of the lungs and may impair the production of nitric oxide in the blood vessels, a substance crucial for maintaining vessel relaxation and reducing blood pressure. The compromised ability of blood vessels to relax can lead to clotting and constriction, raising blood pressure levels.

Dr. Rahman further emphasizes that the chemicals used in e-cigarettes with CBD oil, including flavorings and nicotine, have their own detrimental effects on the lungs. Nicotine, known for its addictive properties, is not only commonly included in CBD vaping products but also heightens the risk of cardiovascular, respiratory, and gastrointestinal disorders. Therefore, while CBD itself may have potential benefits, the method of delivery through vaping raises serious concerns about health and safety.

Potential Side Effects and Health Risks Associated with CBD Vaping

According to experts, individuals who regularly engage in vaping CBD oil may not immediately notice its harmful effects. Dr. Rahman highlights that the initial side effect of vaping CBD is often a sense of relaxation. However, both experts emphasize that despite the initial feelings of relaxation, vaping poses serious health risks that can manifest over time. Below are some of the potential health risks associated with regular CBD vaping:

  1. Popcorn Lung (Bronchiolitis Obliterans): This condition involves the accumulation of scar tissue in the lungs, obstructing airflow. Dr. Iyer explains that popcorn lung is irreversible and results in progressive lung damage, leading to symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
  2. Lung or Heart Disease: Vaping is known to damage blood vessels, increasing the risk of developing lung and heart diseases, according to Dr. Iyer.
  3. Compromised Immune Health: While other forms of CBD consumption, such as topical application or ingestion through food and beverages, are associated with immune health support, studies indicate that vaping CBD may decrease immune health.
  4. Death: Although specific data on vaping-related deaths is limited, between March 2019 and February 2020, at least 68 individuals reportedly died due to lung injuries caused by vaping[3].

CBD Regulations and Challenges with Counterfeit Products

Dr. Rahman underscores that the current regulations surrounding CBD are fraught with loopholes, making it easy to bypass safety standards. His research reveals that CBD oil in e-cigarettes often contains additional ingredients, including MCT oil, which is used for flavor preservation and may cause acute lung toxicity when vaped, as well as THC. The addition of THC is sometimes done to enhance the user experience, even when the product packaging does not indicate the presence of THC.

Dr. Rahman advocates for clearer regulations on CBD, especially concerning vaporization. Currently, consumers have no reliable means of confirming the contents of CBD vaping products, emphasizing the need for improved transparency. A 2019 study from Virginia Commonwealth University found that four out of nine tested CBD vaping liquids contained a synthetic cannabinoid compound called 5F-ADB, which is illegal in the U.S. due to its association with deadly overdoses and is found in some synthetic cannabis products like Spice, K2, Black Mamba, and Crazy Clown[4]. The lack of clarity in CBD regulations raises concerns about the authenticity and safety of products available in the market.

Exploring Healthier Alternatives to CBD Vaping, as Recommended by Experts

Encouraging news comes from Dr. Rahman, who suggests that quitting CBD vaping can facilitate the healing of the lungs, mitigating much of the damage caused by previous vaping habits. He emphasizes the remarkable restorative capacity of the lungs, particularly when injuries are minor, stating, “The lungs are a beautiful system and can heal as long as the injury is minor.” However, he adds that severe damage poses challenges to the healing process, underscoring the importance of discontinuing CBD vaping as soon as possible for optimal lung recovery.

Both experts emphasize that the issue lies not with Diamond CBD oil itself but rather with the act of vaping. Consequently, they advocate for healthier alternatives, such as using CBD oil topically or incorporating it into oral consumption through foods, beverages, and gummies.

For those who vape CBD to achieve a sense of relaxation, both experts recommend adopting healthier stress-relief methods. These alternatives include meditation, exercise (even a short walk), and yoga. If managing chronic pain is the goal, Dr. Iyer suggests exploring the application of a CBD cream directly to the affected area as a potential alternative. However, he cautions that even topical CBD products lack clear regulations. To ensure safety and efficacy, consulting with a healthcare provider is the safest approach. By seeking professional guidance, individuals can address chronic pain and collaboratively develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to their specific needs.

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