The UK Food Standard Agency (FSA) published documentation recommending how much CBD is safe for adults to consume when the CBD market started to boom.
The first recommendation by the FSA was published in 2020 at a maximum of 70mg a day for the average adult weighing 70kg. This is provided they are not on any medication, not pregnant or seeking to become pregnant, not breastfeeding, are not considered vulnerable and are above the age of 18.
Towards the latter half of 2023, the FSA updated this recommendation based on COT & ACFNP findings and published a conservative recommendation of 0.15mg/kg per day. This works out to be just 10mg daily for the average 70kg adult.
With the rise in popularity of CBD vape pens, we set out to investigate whether consumers were adhering to the FSA's recommendations.
We analysed our customers' purchasing behaviour to determine their daily CBD intake.
The total CBD of the products purchased was then divided by the number of days between the initial order date and final order date and added to the average number of days between each order:
This gave us the average daily CBD per day and it was assumed that this amount of CBD was fully consumed by the customer.
The original pool of customers was over 5000. The following selection criteria were applied to this pool of customers:
The average amount of CBD vaped by our customers was found to be 140mg per day. The minimum CBD vaping rate was 3.62mg per day. The maximum CBD vaping rate was 500mg per day.
Further statistical analysis showed that the median was 94mg per day. The interquartile range i.e. 75% of customers vape somewhere between 43mg and 200mg per day. A handful were outliers vaping near 500mg on a daily basis.
Only 2.5% of the customers adhered to a maximum of 10mg per day. 40% of customers remained within the previous FSA recommended daily intake of 70mg.
The implications of this study reveal that the majority of the CBD vapers in the UK are potentially consuming unsafe levels of CBD on a daily basis. This is assuming they are not taking CBD via any other means.
If consumers are vaping CBD and are consuming more CBD using gummies or oils etc throughout their days, then the average intake of CBD would be much higher. Thus more dangerous in the long term.
Moreover vaping is the quickest and most efficient way of consuming CBD. This means that compared to other CBD products consumers are more likely to get CBD into their blood stream by vaping for a greater bioavailability. The FSA recommendations are based on a safety factor applied as the variables that affect bioavailability is unknown.
By not adhering to FSA recommendations, consumers are increasing the risk of experiencing adverse events or health risks. We do not know how the risk increases as there is little research and data on this subject. Moreover the recommendations already have a large safety factor applied to ensure safety of the unknowns. So the 10mg/day is already very conservative. And it could be that the actual safe limit of CBD intake is much higher. We just don't know what that safe limit is yet.
There are limitations to our study. The original customer base had to be filtered so the end total number of customers analysed was 387. The consumption numbers are estimated figures based on purchase behaviour and we did not directly observe the end users’ intake. Our study does not consider CBD purchases made elsewhere, but this would further increase the numbers and show that consumers are taking more CBD than we have found.
There are a few potential reasons why we believe consumers are vaping more.
Since 40% of consumers are within the previous limits, it is likely that consumers are not aware of the new FSA recommendations.
Secondly the majority of consumers (75%) are vaping between 40mg to 200mg of CBD per day. This is in line with many studies that have found CBD dosage levels to have certain health benefits. CBD in these studies was mostly consumed orally via oils and capsules, with some as sprays and topicals. They did not consider or study vaping CBD. This could further imply that the dosage figures deduced would be lower for vaping due to the more efficient uptake of CBD into the bloodstream.
We also need to question whether keeping to the recommended daily maximum of 10mg does have any health and wellbeing benefits. Our dosage table does show that there are, but they are not the usual benefits we hear consumers are using CBD for. So this begs the question; is the FSA recommendation too conservative?
The deduced figure of 10mg does have safety reduction factors as mentioned by COT and ACFNP. It’s kind of like saying, they found people to tolerate well with 100mg daily but we will say 10x less is safe because there are still too many unknowns. Like, how does someone’s food or diet have an affect on the bioavailability of the CBD? Similarly how is it affected if someone has broad or full spectrum CBD?
It makes sense for the FSA to use safety factors as they are aiming to have the best interest of the consumers. We are sure that time and further research will lead to the FSA to revise the recommendation, but until then we will continue to urge our customers to follow the guidelines to ensure their own safety.
CBD vapers are consuming 14 times more than the current FSA recommended intake. The importance of responsible consumption of CBD safely must be iterated to consumers and further increase awareness.
More research needs to be conducted with CBD vapers and the impact it has on health benefits and health issues.
We encourage all of our consumers to read our post on consuming CBD safely written by Dr. Preet who has an extensive background in CBD.
This article was authored by: Dr M Mansoor Siddique (PhD). Dr Siddique has over eight years of experience working with CBD and CBD products.
This article was peer-reviewed by: Dr. Asim I B (PhD). Dr. Asim completed his PhD in Biomedical Engineering and has published and peer-reviewed multiple articles for world renowned scientific journals.
Disclaimer: All of our products are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. It is recommended to check with doctor before starting a new dietary supplement program. All CBD products sold have less than 0.2% THC content and abide by both EU an UK law.