The jury’s still out on cannabis oil (CBD) for pets (and humans) in spite of its increasing availability in South Africa and around the world.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the regulatory body responsible for protecting public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, this week issued warning letters  to 15 US companies for illegally selling products containing cannabidiol (CBD). These companies’ websites indicate that most if not all of them sell CBD products for pets as well as people.

Safety concerns

The FDA said that due to a lack of scientific information, it cannot conclude that CBD is generally recognised as safe. So far the FDA has approved only one prescription drug containing CBD. “The FDA recognises the significant public interest in cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, particularly CBD. However, there are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing CBD. The agency is working on answering these questions through ongoing efforts,” it said.

“The FDA is concerned that people may mistakenly believe that trying CBD ‘can’t hurt’. We have seen only limited data about CBD’s safety and these data point to real risks that need to be considered.”

Risks included the potential for livery injury, inhibition of sperm growth and development, decreased circulating testosterone, diahorrea and loss of appetite, changes in alertness, abdominal pain and irritability and agitation.

“It’s important to talk to your doctor or veterinarian about the best way to treat diseases or conditions before resorting to CBD,” the agency said. In any case, a diagnosis is always preferable before home treatment as many diseases display the same symptoms.

CBD is marketed as oil drops, capsules, syrups, food products, and topical lotions and creams.

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