CBD, also known as cannabidiol, has grown in popularity over the past couple of years. Many people are trying it for a variety of symptoms from joint pain to anxiety to insomnia. Before starting CBD, you should consult your physician.

CBD is one of over 100-plus cannabinoids that may be extracted from the cannabis plant. Hemp plants are cannabis plants that contain less than 0.3 percent THC.

THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that gives the “high” sensation. Both CBD and THC work with our own bodies’ endocannabinoid system.

With this brief understanding of CBD, the next question new potential users ask is “Is CBD safe?” The majority would say “yes.” However, it is important to note that CBD is not FDA regulated.

What we do know from studies of Epidiolex the only FDA-approved cannabis product, is that CBD in high doses in mice studies have caused liver enzymes to be elevated. This is documented in an MDPI report, “Hepatotoxicity of a Cannabidiol-Rich Cannabis Extract in the Mouse Model,” April 2019.

I had a firsthand experience with this concern a few weeks ago. A gentleman and his wife in their early 40s stopped by my tent in Bluffton to see our CBD products. As, we spoke, I asked him if he was currently using CBD products, and he quickly replied “Yes.”

Encouraged by his response, I asked what products he is using and would he consider trying a local brand? He shared that he was using oral drops that he had purchased locally and on the internet.

When I asked how many milligrams he is currently taking, he said he is taking 100mg per day. This was shocking to me and very concerning, so I asked why he was taking such a high dose.

He said it was because he was 6-foot-2 and more than 200 pounds -and he needed to take a large oral dose because he’s a big guy.

I immediately informed him that studies have shown taking high doses of CBD – such as the 100mg he’s taking – would lead to elevated liver enzymes.

He and his wife were visibly shocked by this information, as just days prior he had bloodwork at his doctor’s office and was informed by his physician that he had elevated liver enzymes. The doctor was unable to determine the cause of this abnormal blood work.

The man was told to avoid NSAIDs such as Aleve, ibuprofen, Advil, and alcohol and to drink plenty of water. He told the doctor that he drinks a large amount of water and doesn’t take any over the counter medications. However, he did not tell his doctor he was taking CBD. And the doctor didn’t ask.

My customer was relieved to learn his liver enzymes will naturally correct themselves with a much lower dose of CBD.

It is always best to “start low, go slow” with all oral products. It is not recommended to base your CBD dose off on your body mass index (BMI).

It is advised to inform your physician of your CBD use and dosing. Most people find oral dosing between 10mg and 50mg per day to be adequate. Should you find yourself taking more than 50 mg per day, it would be best to reevaluate your CBD product.

This dosing suggestion does not apply to topical products, as they are not absorbed into the bloodstream as oral products.

Cynthia Groff, CCMA is the owner of Sativa Health Products on Hilton Head Island. SativaHealthProducts.com