During the college football semifinal playoff game, our Instagram account received a panicked message from a follower who was hoping to capitalize on a holiday sale… it was for a CBD vape pen.
The question was an honest one and might not be clear to consumers: is it safe to vape CBD?
Is CBD Safe?
Cannabidiol (CBD) on its own is likely safe. There does not seem to be a sufficient body of research – or even much popular suggestion, for that matter – to implicate CBD as dangerous.
The body of research supporting CBD as a health aid is also insufficient. But there is plenty of room to be optimistic – studies have demonstrated a variety of positive effects from CBD consumption. A study from São Paulo University highlighted the potential of CBD to mitigate pain reception in rats, but the authors seem to be have a vested interest in the success of the study due to patent ownership for an associated product (Genaro, et al, 2017).
Another study from the Department of Biotechnology and Bioscience, University of Milano-Bicocca, found additional positive evidence suggesting that CBD could be successfully used as therapy for chronic pain (Costa, et al, 2007).
Additional research exists with positive implications regarding CBD and anxiety (Linares, et al, 2019) and depression (Cartwright, et al, 2016; Zanelati, et al, 2010), though much more research would be needed in order to reach a confident conclusion.
Countless additional anecdotal stories invigorate the CBD supporters. We recently worked with a woman who said “it changed my life. My arthritis didn’t hurt as bad and I could finally sleep.”
While those stories are encouraging, they should be met with a healthy level of scientific skepticism, at least until the research proves out such claims.
So while the research regarding the health implications of CBD consumption is inconclusive, it certainly seems to lean in the positive direction.
Note: much of the stigma surrounding CBD consumption confuses the substance with Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which has known psychoactive properties. CBD and THC are separate compounds.
Is Vaping Safe?
Vaping, regardless of what is inhaled, can kill you. It is the process of vaping – which relies on a heated coil within the device to turn a liquid substance into vapor – that has negative effects on one’s health.
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) implicates vaping in the deaths of more than 50 young people.
Another report from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) points to exogenous lipoid pneumonia as a side effect of vaping. Though it has the potential to be fatal, it is more commonly associated with prolonged cough and fever, among other symptoms (Marchiori, et al, 2011).
Why is this happening in what was once billed as the safe alternative to smoking? It is believed that both the storage of e-liquid within a vape pen and the coil-based heating mechanism are responsible for the negative health effects. One Johns Hopkins study found that heavy metals leach into the vapor during storage. As a result, users are inhaling chromium, nickel, and lead alongside whatever they initially intended.
Additional studies found an ever wider variety of toxic metals, including arsenic, chromium, copper, and tin. Although small doses of these metals are not necessarily fatal, their heated absorption via the lung is conclusively disadvantageous.
While CBD does not seem to be dangerous, and might actually have positive effects on human health, the process of consumption matters. Vaping CBD is most certainly not safe.
Companies like who proffer CBD-based supplements should reevaluate their position on vaping the product. While we make no claims on the quality or effectiveness of the products they offer, their messaging is significantly misleading.
Products on sites like these endorse the anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, sleep-aid effects of CBD consumption. They promote health. One popular company sells products like the “Recovery Vaporizer Set” and “Extra Strong Recovery Cartridges.” Their messaging is, in no uncertain terms, negligent.
To be clear, we are not taking a moral position against vaping.
To be clear, we are not taking a moral position against vaping. If you want to vape, go for it. But you should be equipped with the full understanding of the behavior and its side-effects. If the goal is to improve health through CBD, then vaping it is not the way.
Companies endorsing the consumption of CBD via vapor are either under-informed or neck deep in the cost of supply and advertising. Even a product warning would do.
We have yet to see a site mention that inhaling vaporized CBD might cause exogenous lipoid pneumonia. That would not be good for sales.
Therefore, the onus is on us. Be a conscious consumer. Think before you act.
And return to the cornerstone question of the Good Athlete Project: Does Your Behavior Match Your Goal?