Fake CBD Oil Is Making People Sick—Here’s How to Prevent It From Happening to You

Photo: Stocksy/Lumina
CBD oil, a marijuana-derived ingredient, lends itself to a wide range of health-improving uses, such as fighting seizures, alleviating period cramps, and helping you to de-stress. However, as with essential oils, honey, and all products that you put in or on your body, it's crucial to make sure the substance is reliably sourced and of high quality, since sometimes seemingly healthy products are actually loaded with harmful fillers. Unfortunately, CBD oil is the latest target of this anti-wellness practice: A fake version containing synthetic compounds—not authentic CBD—ultimately made dozens of people really sick.

As of January, 52 people had become ill as a result of a CBD poisoning outbreak in Utah, and 31 of those people sought treatment at the emergency room, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those affected by the synthetic CBD experienced symptoms that real CBD is commonly used to treat: nausea, vomiting, seizures, and anxiety.

The CDC notes this is a prime example of why states should regulate products labeled as CBD, which currently does not happen—a dangerous prospect given that there's a growing demand for CBD products in the wellness and beauty markets.

But some leaders in the industry—like Lord Jones, CAP Beauty, and CW Hemp—claim to use standards to ensure their items are effective and safe. For Joel Stanley, founder and chairman of CW Hemp, that means manufacturing in the company's FDA-registered facility, employing qualified scientists and engineers, only using the highest-quality ingredients, and having total control over every aspect of production. But, no matter where you shop, Stanley says there are three important questions to ask before purchasing CBD oil from any company.

1. Does the company manufacture its own products?

While Stanley says CW Hemp has the unique ability to observe its entire supply chain, from seed to finished product, because its plants are grown domestically, such is not the case for many other purveyors. "A lot of companies are buying not only their raw materials but sometimes their finished products from 'fly by night' suppliers that are in this to make a quick dollar," he says. "We've noticed that many of the people and companies in the industry today have no experience formulating, manufacturing, or supplying products for human ingestion. There certainly are reputable brands out there, but you have to be careful."

2. How does the company source its cannabis?

According to Stanley, hemp in particular is a "phytoremediative plant, meaning it pulls up a lot of the compounds, including the toxins and heavy metals, in the ground it's planted in"—AKA things you definitely don't want in a product you ingest.

3. Does the company have its own extraction process?

"This is very important," Stanley says. "A consumer should be able to ask a manufacturer for batch-testing results that will show potency and purity."

When it comes to the unregulated CBD (which, again, is all CBD), it's crucial for you to do the research. To ensure your goal of relieving your anxiety and pain doesn't exacerbate your symptoms or result in a surprise trip to the emergency room, keep these guidelines in mind before you hit that "purchase" button.

Here's how to make a super-simple CBD drink. Or, find out if having CBD oil in your mascara could give you lust-worthy lashes.

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