CBD Might Not Be As Safe as You Believe

CBD Cannabidiol

According to a recent case study, using too many herbal supplements sent a woman to the hospital. The report reveals that she had a dangerously erratic heartbeat after taking high doses of CBD and berberine.

A new study published in Heart Rhythm Case Reports highlights how dangerous the improper use of herbal supplements can be.

An herbal supplement is a product manufactured from plants that are used to treat diseases or sustain health. Herbal supplements have been used for thousands of years.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most popular ingredients in herbal supplements today. CBD is a chemical present in marijuana. CBD lacks tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component in marijuana that causes a high. Aloe Vera, flaxseed, and peppermint oil are among other popular herbal supplements.

Herbal supplements are now widely used by American consumers. They are not, however, suitable for everyone. Herbal supplements are controversial since they are not subject to strict monitoring by the FDA or other governing bodies.

This means that although they may be natural, it does not necessarily mean they are safe. A new case report published by Elsevier in Heart Rhythm Case Reports, an official publication of the Heart Rhythm Society, is an example. It describes a patient who suffered dizziness and fainting after using hemp oil containing CBD, CBG, and berberine supplements and was diagnosed with severe cardiac arrhythmia.

“More and more people are taking herbal supplements for their potential benefits. Yet their ‘natural’ character can be misleading since these preparations can have serious adverse side effects on their own or if combined with other supplements or medications,” said Elise Bakelants, MD, Department of Cardiology, University Hospital of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland. “Their use should not be taken lightly, and dosing recommendations should always be respected.”

The study examines the case of a 56-year-old woman who was admitted to the emergency department after experiencing dizziness and fainting without warning. She was diagnosed with a life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia after an ECG showed short runs of torsade de pointes, a rapid heartbeat originating in the ventricles, and a markedly prolonged QT interval, which means the heart’s electrical system takes longer than normal to recharge between beats.

Rhythm Strip Torsade de Pointes

Rhythm strip showing short runs of torsade de pointes and a markedly prolonged corrected QT interval. Credit: Heart Rhythm Case Reports

Aside from the patient’s low blood pressure, her physical examination and blood work were normal. The herbal supplements she was using to help her cope with a tough work-life balance were identified as the culprit by the doctors. She had started a four-month routine of taking six times the recommended quantity of hemp oil and had recently added berberine to the mix. During her hospital stay, all supplements were discontinued, resulting in a steady drop in her QT interval, which stabilized after five days. Her ECG remained within the normal range at her three-month follow-up, and she reported no additional bouts of dizziness or fainting. With no other possible causes, her return to normalcy clearly supported the hypothesis that the supplements were to blame for the arrhythmia.

The popularity of herbal supplements has grown rapidly in recent years, especially those containing CBD (cannabidiol). Available without a prescription, CBD has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antiepileptic, analgesic, anxiolytic, antipsychotic, and immunomodulatory properties. Supplied as raw material or as ready-to-use products (e.g., cosmetics, tobacco substitutes, scented oils), it does not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which causes the psychotropic effect of cannabis. Therefore, it is not subjected to scrutiny by drug regulatory agencies. Berberine, found in the roots, rhizomes, and stem bark of many medicinal plants, is frequently used in traditional Chinese and ayurvedic medicine to treat infections, diarrhea, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Widely perceived as harmless natural substances, the preparation of herbal supplements is largely unregulated. The exact composition can vary greatly from one distributor to another, and these substances’ pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties are not well known. There are limited data on their effectiveness, toxicity, and potential for interactions. As a result, it is not always possible to foresee their negative consequences.

Dr. Bakelants cautioned patients and physicians to be aware of possible side effects, respect dosing recommendations, and consider possible interactions with other medications, particularly in patients with underlying cardiac disease or those already taking QT-prolonging medication.

Reference: “Harmless herbs? A case report of acquired long QT syndrome and torsades de pointes in a patient taking herbal supplements” by Marion Déléaval, Haran Burri and Elise Bakelants, 1 May 2022, Heart Rhythm Case Reports.
DOI: 10.1016/j.hrcr.2022.03.018

9 Comments on "CBD Might Not Be As Safe as You Believe"

  1. “CBD Might Not Be As Safe as You Believe” … “She had started a four-month routine of taking six times the recommended quantity of hemp oil and had recently added berberine to the mix.”

    The headline should more correctly be, “Take stupid amounts of anything, get dangerous results” As exemplified by this Wikipedia article on Water intoxication, “Water intoxication, also known as water poisoning, hyperhydration, overhydration, or water toxemia, is a potentially fatal disturbance in brain functions that results when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is pushed outside safe limits by excessive water intake.”

  2. BooBoo Kitty | June 14, 2022 at 9:53 am | Reply

    “This means that although they may be natural, but it does not necessarily mean they are safe.”

    The quality of journalism and editorial scrutiny found in this article, not only in linguistic content, but in substance, is a bit lacking, IMO. Maybe they had too many alcoholic drinks.

  3. Kristina Etter | June 14, 2022 at 9:59 am | Reply

    “CBD Might Not Be As Safe as You Believe” … “She had started a four-month routine of taking six times the recommended quantity of hemp oil and had recently added berberine to the mix.”

    Is CBD really the culprit here? Seems things were going just fine until she added berberine. The headline should read – Berberine Possible Trigger for Arrhythmia When Combined with High Doses of CBD

    • Whi Sitekdaley | June 14, 2022 at 10:35 am | Reply

      Thank you Kristina. I was going to comment the same, and you caught it first.

      CBD need not be in the headline at all. Berberine has known effects on the heart, so people with heart disease take it, but effects include causing low blood pressure and torsade des pointes – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5478780/

      One person got sick taking an herb known to cause that sickness, while also taking CBD. This is not news-worthy, and it’s written to mislead readers by attacking CBD. Why, scitechdaily, why?

  4. The statement that CBD comes from Marijuana itself is not a correct statement. CBD comes from hemp, a natural plant. Some have genetically bred Hemp to have high THC content and this is the “marijauna” plant, that also has CBD. Hemp powered the sails of the ships that crossed the Atlantic to the US, it produced the fiber on which the declaration of independence is written, the ignorance surrounding it is what caused it to be banned and now it is back. Articles like this push to put us back in ignorance. CBD is in fact not regulated by the FDA, that does not mean CBD is bad, that means there is allowance for bad actors. If someone made a poisoned vitamin C tablet does that mean Vitamin C itself is bad? No. The FDA is stuck in its own regulations, it made CBD a prescription medicine due to its proven effects to help epilepsy. Now it can’t make it a supplement (like Vitamin C for instance). This paradox the FDA now finds itself in is an issue. Human studies are challenging as they are massively expensive and no one can spend that since it is a natural substance and can’t be patented, so we are stuck with synthetic pharmaceuticals that can do human trials (look at all the side effects in the commercials) and steer clear of natural herbal things that can’t be patented simply due to money but are better for us and less harmful. Let us remember the FDA gave us Opium and doctors prescribed it, now we have an opiod crisis…the government is not always right, it is run by money and power, that is why pharmaceuticals run things and CBD is natural and they can’t patent and make the money, period. Synthetic CBD is coming and will be patented and suddenly it will be ok…But the government is always right, hey just hang out in this fake house while we test a nuclear bomb, we promise you will be ok…..this article uses small instances to slam a benficial natural substance…sure, not everyone reacts perfectly to it, but then again not everyone reacts perfectly to a lot of thing, allergies for instance, but don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, and the bathwater is really not dirty at all so maybe keep that too, and throw out articles like this that are misleading.

  5. The 10th Man | June 15, 2022 at 7:35 am | Reply

    This sounds like the wack job pulled on Saccharine. My poor Granny had to go black market. Someone paid this site of shills to plant this one out there. Its good that you all held them accountable.

  6. John C. Tokalenko | June 16, 2022 at 4:59 am | Reply

    This is hilarious! The same people who told you “safe and effective” and now deny all the deadly effects are insisting you believe natural products will make you sick or even kill you.

  7. Weird. Who would have thought it you take something that has no side effects on your heart, then add something that is known to cause heart issues, you may have heart issues. Who would have thought.

    Maybe try it again without being stupid?

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